Niki Jacob - Advertising Art & Design Instructor

We all have our ways of teaching our children how to talk, read, and walk. Each parent has their own individual style for teaching their own children, some can help, and some can hinder. The biggest question is, “How do you know how to help your child develop when you have no formal training?”

To start out to guess it would be a good idea to explain that I have an brother who is four years my elder. As a child my mother would read to my brother, show him colors, and begin to make sounds with him. For instance when we saw a cow outside the car window, she would ask him “what sound does a cow make?” As I lay in her belly at night she would read to my brother before he went to bed, I was getting all the benefits of Dr. Seuss before I was even born.

In a recent discussion with my mother I found out a few things that makes more sense of why I have the learning disabilities that I do. She showed me colors, read books to me, and showed me all the sounds that animals make. However, it seems that I had no patience; I would constantly try to keep turning the page.

When I was 4 years old my father had broke his back from an accident at work. Soon after I started stuttering, I could hardly get any words out. My parents were told that because my father was in the hospital for several months that I traumatized myself into stuttering. I have questioned that answer my whole life.

During the 1970s preschool was not a required school for children. Therefore, it wasn’t until kindergarten that my teachers started to find out that there was more going on with my stuttering and lack of patience. Soon after school started, I was immediately enrolled into speech classes and tutored for a comprehension problem. However, the tutoring would only last for one group of sessions; I was there for only a couple of months. As my mother explains it, I learned easily and that my comprehension was not a big deal. Nevertheless, I spent my entire elementary years in speech classes for “non-influences”.

During my elementary years, I was teased a lot because of my stuttering and this seemed to follow me through to high school. By the time I reached high school age, I was very withdrawn and barely attended school without my parents’ knowledge. I had no interest, no involvements, and was in trouble a lot. My parents had a very hard time with me, but no one thought why my grades were failing and why I hated to go to school. I hated reading, hated math, and hated anything that dealt with school itself. I escaped through art; this was the only class in high school I never missed.

It wouldn’t be until 14 later that I married and decided to go to college that all my struggles began to resurface. My husband, who is a music teacher turned guidance counselor, would help me with my general education classes. We would sit for hours, arguing on why I do not understand something or why I read something wrong. Nevertheless, I persevered until my daughter began to develop learning problems when she started pre-school. My daughter, who has PKU, has her very own metabolism doctor, and with his help we decided to make an appointment for my daughter to see a nuero- psychologist. What we found out was that she had a tracking and teaming problem with her eyes which led to her having difficulty in reading and comprehension. As I talked with her doctor, he explained that many of times this comes from a parent, that it was hereditary. As my husband has no learning disabilities whatsoever, I decided it was time for me to get tested.

The results were interesting, I have the exact tracking and teaming problem that my daughter had, but I also have ADHD along with the non-influences problem. Altogether this would result in someone having a very difficult time reading and comprehending anything that was put in front of them. As my daughter was very young, her tracking and teaming problem were able to be fixed within a couple of months. However, the damage to me was done so long ago that it was irreversible, and the only thing to do is to learn how to deal with it.

As a new parent you hope to gain all the guidance from your parents as you learn how to raise your own child. What I learned was to make sure I follow through with every problem my child encounters, and not to simply blow it off, as my parents did. As I talked with my mother she explained to me that, back then, people really didn’t know much about comprehension problems or certain disabilities. She explained to me that unless you have a severe disability that you were just thought of as a troubled child, and no one thought that there was an underlying problem.

I am glad that we live in the world today where a tracking and teaming problem, or a comprehension problem, is not that big of a deal and there are ways to help the child. I would hope that if my disabilities were dealt with long ago that I would have a love for reading, but because it is so difficult for me to even read one paragraph I cannot stand even pick up a book, any book. However, my child is being taught the exact opposite, all of her simple disabilities were dealt with at an early age, and today she strives as one of the top students in her class. She has a love for science, and reading and one day wishes to be a scientist. Sometimes she even helps me.