Life hurdles – by Jenny Foster
When Ewan was 6 he was diagnosed with a learning difficulty you will all be familiar with called dyslexia. In general it affects his ability to read and write and has a knock-on effect with all of his schooling.
The dyslexia in itself is a major life hurdle for Ewan and puts him in difficult situations everyday but I never expected it to have a detrimental effect on his health. That was until he was diagnosed with Type1 diabetes.
You might be asking yourself what the Dyslexia has got to do with the Diabetes and vice versa. Surely they are two separate issues, dealt with in completely different ways? One with extra support during lessons and the other with medication. Well that was my way of thinking too until just recently.
Last Thursday Ewan had a blood glucose reading of 24.2. It was out-of-the-blue, in the middle of the night. We managed it as we always do but he awoke in the morning with a similar high. Having just started a new year group and class at school I decided to keep him at home until I got things settled and agreed with his teacher to bring him in at morning break. Not being able to pinpoint why he had this sudden high was a little frustrating but everything soon became all too clear.
When it was time to get dressed and leave for school I found Ewan in a heap on the floor of his room in floods of tears. He was scared and frustrated and the tears just kept on coming. It transpired his next lesson was English and he was going to be sitting a reading assessment, for someone with Dyslexia this presented him with some major hurdles to jump.
What followed was the realisation that his anxiety about the assessment could well be the cause of the high blood readings and then two very long hours of calming him down, getting him to school, meeting with the special educational needs co-ordinator and arranging some support for him to get him through the assessment.
I was left feeling exhausted and thinking about all of this upheaval for a minor, in-class reading assessment that has no bearing on his future – and he is only 10?! You should by now see where I’m going with this…
In 6 months time Ewan will be sitting his Year 6 SATS and there’ll be various assessments over the next few years before he starts in 4 years time to study for his EBaccs!! (Come back GCSE’s all is forgiven!!). Managing his anxiety and stress, as well as getting the right level of support for his dyslexia has suddenly become crucial for his future health.
The change to EBacc’s and the return to an end-of-year exam instead of 2 years of assessments and course work could not be worse for Ewan. The format relies heavily on him having a ‘good day’. Even without dyslexia and diabetes to consider, this is a tall order!
While I will never doubt his enthusiasm or determination to succeed, the vicious cycle of him worrying about his capabilities to complete the exam, then the stress and anxiety increasing his blood glucose levels, in turn making him hyper and potentially very unwell makes me wonder whether having a good day, at just the right moment will ever happen for him?
Only the future will tell.
I would love to hear from other parents of children with Type 1 and other people with Type 1, who have additional needs to understand how they have learned to cope with one in order to help the other. Leave your comments below.