Marco was a typical preschooler. He was a happy, capable child, with great verbal ability. He spoke in full sentences at an early age, and he knew lots of words, especially words related to cars and trucks. By the age of two, he knew the difference between a pay loader and a backhoe, and he was sure to correct anyone who got it wrong. But no matter how hard we tried, he couldn't learn the names of the colors or his phone number. And while we spent hours reading together, he just wasn't interested in the letters of the alphabet.
We gave him another year in preschool, hoping it would give him a head start, the time he needed to grow.
At the age of six, Marco started kindergarten. He loved school. He had a lot of friends and he was happy—but oh so active. He could never sit still or resist temptation. If he saw a mud puddle, he was the one who jumped in it. He was the one who'd usually end up sitting in the penalty chair.
And there were so many things he couldn't do. He couldn't tie his shoes. He didn't know the days of the week or the months of the year. He still couldn't recite the alphabet. When his sister was born, he called her "that baby" for weeks. At first I thought it was just a case of sibling rivalry, but when I asked him the names of the children in his class, he simply didn't know. While he wasn't able to name the day of the week or the child sitting next to him, he was able to tell us all about the Roman Legions—complete with details about the armor they wore, the weapons they used, and the battles they fought. There were just so many contradictions.
His grandfather insisted there was nothing to be concerned about, Marco was just "all boy." And then Marco's kindergarten teacher suggested that he be evaluated because she noticed the same things I did. I called the principal and asked for an evaluation. I was hoping for guidance, but what I got was a lecture about parents pushing their children too hard, expecting too much. I hung up the phone feeling like a bad parent. I also questioned myself: did I expect too much from Marco? Just because I was a reader at his age, should I expect him to be a reader and writer too? I didn't pursue an evaluation, and Marco limped along through kindergarten. On the last day of school, Marco's teacher looked at me and let out a deep sigh. She said, "I hope it works out for Marco next year."
Read about Marco's diagnosis.