Hi I am Karen, and I have been asked to chat about myself, before P.A.L.S. and today. If it was still before PALS I would not be here, standing in front of you all. I learned very early in life to be invisible. I remember never feeling like I could excel and if people did not know I had problems reading and writing maybe they would not judge me. (Bet I was the real one judging myself).
Life before P.A.L.S. – well back then, as my kids would say: I hated going to school and just wanted to disappear. Remember piano lessons – just quit showing up, and my parents got mad for the wasted money, but just let me quit. Dance and choir were much the same.
I come from a family where I am the youngest. The oldest child excelled, and the brothers in between left their reputation, one that I was labelled with the first day of each new grade. (We call this growing up in a small town). I feel that I grew up when the system just pushed you through. Teachers and parents seemed not to notice or did not know what to do to help.
I graduated from grade 12, but my self-confidence was lacking. I didn’t think there was anything I could do. I worked at different jobs, but whenever there was a situation where I was tested for job skills my anxiety was really debilitating for me. Even if I knew all the work. It was like an exam and I just thought “NO WAY.” The weird part is that I am a strong worker and hands on learner. All anybody ever had to do was show me what they wanted and I could do it.
I was lucky to meet and marry a wonderful man, and I became a mom. I remember when my oldest was just a baby, the fear and anxiety I had just to get myself to read a story out loud to him (as if he would know or judge his mommy.)
When one of our children was struggling in school, we worked hard to find and get him help even when we kept running into walls (remember, we lived in a small town). We got the teachers helping, a tutor and at 21 our child was a journeyman Carpenter. He is very successful.
How did I hear about P.A.L.S? Well, I took part in a program in Millwoods, where I shared my concern about having to read out loud in class. I almost walked out of the first day of classes when I was challenged because I would not read out loud. A doctor told me about the U of A and getting tested for learning disabilities and another woman told me about P.A.L.S.
Calling P.A.L.S. was difficult, my lack of self-esteem and self-confidence really held me back. But I finally got my nerve up and it was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I have been blessed to meet Bonnie and have had Tanya as my tutor for the last 15 months. Tanya is more than a tutor – Thank you Tanya!
I still feel that there is much room for more growth, and I have insecurities about my abilities, like spelling is for the birds, but I am working on that. I find that now I do much more reading for information, which I never did before. I also now take the time to figure out words rather than just skipping over them, when reading. I spend a lot of time reading now for enjoyment.
One major difference in my life is that I let my husband and children know about my reading and writing problems. I had built such a wall up that I did not share how hard it was for me even with them.
I would tell anyone having problems reading that there is help out there. Also read with your children and get them any help that you can find, so they do not end up feeling helpless like many people out there. Call P.A.L.S.!!