A Learning Process
Molly Humphries has dedicated her life to the health and wellness of the public as a cookbook writer, and to the success of her daughter, Helen, who was diagnosed with dysgraphia and discalculia. With the help of Beyond Speech in Little Rock, this family is creating their own learning curve.
By Amy Gordy, Photography by Brian Chilson
SAVVY: HOW MANY CHILDREN DO YOU HAVE?
MOLLY HUMPHRIES: My husband, Matt, and I have two children: Helen, 6, and David, 2.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? Experiencing both of my children growing everyday. From the time I found out I was pregnant with each of them, I was amazed at their growth. They hit these fun markers in life like rolling over, walking and talking. They continue to amaze us with their little personalities. Helen’s determination and love for others is breathtaking, and David is just hilarious.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO AS A FAMILY? We enjoy our annual family vacations to the beach with our friends, and traveling to see the Razorbacks play! We also love being at home. We have a wonderful home full of natural light and a great yard, so we try to utilize it as much as possible.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER HELEN’S LEARNING IMPAIRMENT? I noticed small things when Helen was in preschool. I honestly didn’t think too much about getting specialized help (although the teachers suggested it). I felt that she was too young for intervention. When Helen was in kindergarten I noticed her handwriting compared to the other children was very different. Her teachers addressed this with me along with some other concerns about her reading, and we agreed that Helen could benefit from some early intervention. I called a very dear friend of mine, Caroline Crow. I think I was about in tears and just needed her expertise on what to do next. Caroline is a speech therapist and had opened her own business, Beyond Speech, just a few years before. Caroline set up a time the next week to test Helen. She was very quick and efficient with the testing process. A week after that, we met with Caroline at her office to discuss the results and create a plan.
WHAT IS HELEN’S DIAGNOSIS? Helen was diagnosed with dysgraphia last spring. This fall, she had a full evaluation performed by Dr. Sabine Falls at Access and was diagnosed with dysgraphia and discalculia.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER FAMILIES WHO RECEIVE A SIMILAR DIAGNOSIS FOR A CHILD? 1. Do not be afraid to ask for help. You are your child’s BIGGEST advocate! 2. Begin to build a positive team of people around you and your child. You should be able to fully trust this team with your heart and your words. My team is made up of my husband and family, other mothers that have children with similar learning journeys, teachers, administrators and specialists. 3. Gather all the facts. Have your child tested. Talk to everyone that has been teaching your child. Plan follow-up meetings and stick to them! 4. Know and understand that all children learn differently. If your child’s development concerns you, then ask for help. My daughter is learning at a different pace, and with some subjects in a different way than other students. This is not a disability to me. This is a journey to figure out how Helen learns best.
WHAT ARE SOME OBSTACLES YOU HAVE FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM? One of the recent obstacles we faced was the anxiety Helen began to experience this fall. She didn’t want to go to school in the mornings and would often complain of a stomachache or try to go to the nurse’s office. After having our pediatrician check her out and told that everything was OK with her physical well-being, I began to question other areas that could be affecting her mood leading to her anxiety. Dr. Falls tested Helen and discovered the discalculia diagnosis. We also discovered her anxiety was before and during math class where she was having a difficult time understanding the material presented. The school immediately began math tutoring, and Beyond Speech incorporated the language of math into her therapy sessions. Since implementing these changes, Helen’s confidence and independence at home has improved, her anxiety at school has decreased and she is happy to go to school!
DESCRIBE THE CARE AND SUPPORT YOU HAVE RECEIVED AT BEYOND SPEECH. HOW HAVE THEY BEEN ESSENTIAL TO YOUR CHILD’S PROGRESS? Beyond Speech has been instrumental during this process from the very beginning. Caroline and her team have been at every meeting we have had with the school, and she was with us when we met with Dr. Falls. Caroline has been the bridge of communication that we needed in order to navigate this road. I don’t understand it all, and Caroline was able to walk me through it! The summer reading program at Beyond Speech was very beneficial to Helen and helped her keep up with her reading techniques! The team at Beyond Speech is available to us whenever we have questions or need to find a different approach to Helen’s learning process. It has been the best experience for us! We are very lucky to have this team of professionals!
WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STORY? I want readers to know that we are in this together. It is OK to reach out for help when your child is struggling. There is nothing to be afraid of and the answers are just a question away! Together we can begin to find the best way to teach our children, which is a learning process in itself for all of us.