Alice is 10 years old and she’s in grade 4. She has severe reading disabilities that hamper her comprehension, writing and spelling abilities. She also has episodes of severe anxiety.
6:30 am — Alice wakes up to her mother urging her to get up and get ready for school. That’s the last thing Alice wants to do. The thought of school and how much she hates going makes her heart start to pound. She finds it hard to read and write, and that makes her different from the other kids. Whenever she tries to read, the words float in front of her all bunched up, just like a wave. That makes her feel sick to her stomach. The other kids also laugh at her and call her names because she has trouble copying things from the blackboard. She decides to tell her mother that she feels too sick to go to school. But her mother feels her forehead and says that she isn’t sick. She has to go to school. The knot in her stomach tightens as she gets ready for school.
8:30 am — Alice’s palms get sweaty and hot as her mother drops her off at school. The butterflies in her stomach get worse as she walks into her classroom.
9:00 am — Alice has to concentrate in order to get her math scribbler out of her bag. The noise in the room makes it difficult for her to focus. Just as she gets her book out, the teacher says that there is a change in the schedule; they are going to start the day with social studies. Alice hates it when her routine is changed. All the other kids have their social studies books open and they laugh at her as she struggles to get herself organized.
10:00 am — The teacher has the class copying information from the blackboard; something that Alice finds extremely hard to do. She is still copying things down when the teacher says that it’s time to put all of their scribblers in the bin so that they can be marked. Alice isn’t finished, so she knows that she is going to get a bad mark. She had to erase her work so many times, that there is a hole in the paper.
10:30 am — Alice plays in the school yard alone at recess. She doesn’t have many friends.
10:45 am — Alice spends the rest of the morning in remedial class. She knows that some of the other kids call it the “retard room.” She works hard as she sounds out words, but she can’t understand what she has just read. She reads the paragraph over and over again until she finally understands what it says. She feels less pressure and stress when she’s in remedial class. The teacher has more time to spend with her and she doesn’t feel like she’s holding the other kids back.
12:00 pm — It’s lunchtime and Alice’s head hurts. The lunchroom is loud and confusing. She has to eat alone because no one will sit with her.
2:00 pm — Alice gets in trouble with the teacher because she pushed a classmate after he called her a “dummy.” She feels her cheeks get red and she gets upset when the teacher doesn’t take her side.
3:45 pm — Alice rides home alone on the bus.
4:15 pm — When she gets home, Alice is upset and tired. She starts to feel a bit better when she sees that her mother has made her her favorite snack and that they have a bit of time to work on their craft project together. The last thing she wants to do is to talk about school or do more schoolwork. Nevertheless, after a half hour, her mother makes her go and see her tutor.
4:45 pm — At the tutor’s house, Alice struggles hard with all of her words. She is relieved when her session is over and she can go home.
7:30 pm — Tonight Alice is going to Brownies. She’s looking forward to it because they are going to be learning how to make knots. Alice is great at making things with her hands and her grandfather has already shown her how to make a slipknot. For once, she’s going to know how to do something that the other kids don’t know how to do. When she gets there, however, her heart sinks when her troop leader says that tonight they are going to be taking turns reading from the Brownie workbook about the different badges. She asks her mother to take her home, saying that she isn’t feeling well.
8:30 pm — Alice goes to bed knowing that she will toss and turn all night. Her dreams are always full of the other kids making fun of her and the teacher scolding her for not being able to keep up with the other kids her class.