The first six weeks of school had passed and I was a bit annoyed going into my parent/teacher conference. I had a million things on my plate and this was one of the “must do’s” that I simply did not have time for. But I made time. So there I was standing outside the door of my son’s 3rd grade classroom. His teacher this year is a no nonsense woman and she holds nothing back. Did I say nothing? She holds less than nothing back! She hit me right between the eyes with the fact that my son may have some learning issues and launched into her examples while I sat there stunned. I am not even sure what she said after the first 10 minutes. I just sat there, staring into space and trying to digest it all. She suggested I get some testing done on him. I stumbled out of her room in a state of shock and immediately went into panic mode. I sat there in my car for about two minutes and then the tears began to fall. I felt helpless, just an overwhelming sense of helplessness! What was I going to do to help my sweet baby boy?
About 5 minutes into the tears, the single mom in me kicked in…..I dried my tears because I simply did not have time for a pity party at the moment and I had work to do. My background is in child care and I have worked at several private schools in my past and even took a contract position as a Director of Admissions at a special needs school. So…… I began to call places that I knew of. I knew the testing and diagnosis process. I have even held parents hands while their children were being tested. But to my horror and dismay, everyone was booked for 6-12 weeks out.
Frustrated as all get out, I called two very close friends, both have special needs children. Both have cried on my shoulder about services and testing. A part of me felt so guilty making the call. My son was not in a wheelchair or carrying a diagnosis and stigma. But I still called. And I spilled the beans to each one of them. And as I did, the light at the end of the tunnel came on. They do not know each other but they both said, “You can do this!”; “This is a world you know how to navigate.” And you know what? They were right. Over the next few hours I prayed and asked God for guidance and then I took out my phone again and began to look for resources and contacts that could help me in less than 6-12 weeks. The next call I made was to Betsy De Vega, owner of The Knile Center. We texted back and forth for a few minutes and in the end I set an appointment for 3 days later. I then gathered myself together and called my son’s father and calmly told him what was going on.
3 days later, we walked into the Knile Center’s new location in Sugarland and we were greeted by her friendly staff and made to feel at home. My son loved the place immediately and I knew he was relaxed. I am not sure if it was because his father and I were with him (he loves that) or he was out of school early or what but I could tell that he was calm and there was no sign of him being anxious.
Betsy came out and greeted us warmly. Then she got down to my son’s eye level and explained to him that she would talk to mom and dad first and then she would come out and get him. We went in and voiced our concerns with her and she walked us through what she would be testing him on and reassured us that it would all be ok. Then it was our son’s turn. We paced for an hour while he tested. We did not talk to one another. We were literally on pins and needles the entire time. The office staff just smiled and offered drinks and assured us that the testing time was normal and all was well. But when it is your kid behind closed doors, nothing seems right, nothing sounds right and no one can seem to reassure enough to relax you. We both let out a sigh of relief when he came out and Betsy asked us to come back in. I handed my son my phone so he could play games while we talked to Betsy.
What she told us was no surprise. First I cried and in a few moments we were all crying. Most of the tears, at least for me were relief. Unknowns are hard for any human being and unknowns about your children are especially difficult to digest. While our son had some weak areas she did not see any “Red Flags” as she calls them. His father and I continued to cry as she laid out a plan for us to help our son cope with his weak areas.
I will never forget as long as I live the compassion and love in Betsy DeVega’s eyes as she spoke with us. “No child is perfect she said and 3rd grade is the hardest year of all.” There was such sincerity in her voice. As a parent who came for guidance and testing, what I appreciated more than her ability to pin point issues and the thoroughness of her testing was the care and concern she showed us as parents.
If you are the parent that just found out that something may be wrong or you are feeling that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that there may be an issue call the Knile Center. Betsy has over 20 years of experience in assessing children and working with them one on one or getting them the help they need to be successful. The Knile Center stands alone in the Houston area as a school for non-traditional students and excels at turning learning issues into successes. Parents, education coaches, and students all have something great to say about the approach the center uses to open the door to a love of learning for the students.