Leigh Sweeney’s (daughter Jenny) Story


LeighSweeneyWhen my 18-year-old daughter came home from work tonight I told her that I had spoken with Mr. Fried and he would like her to be an advocate for Dyspraxia. She said, “I would love to do that!” Then she proceeded to look it up on her phone and was giggling at what the characteristics of a person with Dyspraxia is and said, “WOW! That describes me to a tee!” Since first grade, we have been working with Jenny, and she never even looked it up to understand exactly what she has. That makes me laugh. She has always said “I am amazing!” That’s all she needed.

My side of the story is very different. I am a teacher who had ten years under my belt when Jenny was born. I had been in contact with many children and had a good knowledge of child development. When Jenny was in first grade, she wrote many letters and numbers backwards. We called her Lenny, because she wrote the J backwards. Well, Jenny came home with a math test with a very low score. When I questioned why she was marked off for backward letters, the teacher replied, the book company recommends that. Well, I was on the phone with the book company that night. She was wrong. I knew something wasn’t right with Jenny at this point and took her to a hospital, that specialized in Dyslexia. That was what I knew about. They did a whole team evaluation and they came up with Dyspraxia and Dysgraphia! I was dumbfounded, never hearing of this before. So I went to Barnes and Noble and bought every book they had on it (they had to order them all), 12 to be exact, and I started reading. Then I went to the school.

Try telling a Child Study Team that your child is diagnosed with something they knew nothing about. My daughter was a bright student, so there was nothing wrong with her! Two years later, with the help of a lawyer, my daughter was classified and received the help she needed.

Today my daughter is starting her second year in college. She is in the Honors program, an RA, is on the Dean’s List and oh yeah, in a coed Fraternity. She has had a boyfriend for the past three years and is loving life! She is studying to be a teacher because she loves kids.

I admit, My mind has never strayed too far away from the research, trying to keep one step ahead of her to help her along, but she survives! It hasn’t always been easy. Trying to understand how she could have ended up with this, what are the next steps, and basically what type of juice has a lid that she can easily open, when she goes back to school.

I always tell my students’ parents to fight for their children, and do not give up. Become educated, speak to as many people about it as possible, and do not back down! Always bring someone with you to meetings that look really important, to give you support. One time I brought my brother. He is a detective. He didn’t say anything, but just gave me a little more leverage, because they didn’t know who he was.

My friends call it “Mamma Bear is coming out in me”, but it’s o.k. Because I know what is best for my child, I know the research, and she is mine to take care of!

I wanted to write this through my eyes, having a child with Dyspraxia and letting you know there is hope, they can succeed and they can lead a successful life if we help them at an early age to get the services they need.