About: Emily (age 13)

Age Range: 6 to 13 years

County: Obion

My husband, Rob, and I adopted our daughter, Emily, from China when she was 9 months old. When Emily was little, she received services from Tennessee Early Intervention Services (TEIS) because of speech delays. However, once she aged out of TEIS, we were told that Emily did not qualify for any other services through our local public school system. So my family has had to pay out-of-pocket for the services Emily has received since age three.

For instance, we used to take Emily to occupational therapy. Emily was experiencing sleep problems and so the occupational therapist helped us provide sensory input to Emily with a brushing protocol. We also continue to take Emily to speech therapy, which is forty-five minutes away from our home. Luckily, we have a dentist and a pediatrician nearby. We have medical insurance through my husband's job that covers necessary medical expenses. However, we are also lucky that Emily does not have any major medical concerns.

Emily was diagnosed with profound dyslexia in 5th grade. We had a suspicion that she had dyslexia, but we wanted a formal diagnosis. I home school Emily, because I am able to give her the one-on-one attention the school system can not.

I also attend parent training workshops to make sure that I am knowledgeable about services that Emily could benefit from. I am in the process of completing courses at Vanderbilt to be an advocate for children with disabilities.

Emily is a special girl. She has made a lot of progress in academics and is very active in our community. She is involved in 4-H, soccer, volleyball, piano classes, and art classes. She also listens to audio books on her iPad. We also get together frequently with other kids Emily's age that are home schooled in our area. Emily attends a lot of birthday parties with her friends. We can't believe that our sweet Emily will be 13 years old in December!

If I could say anything to Tennessee legislators, I would say that children with dyslexia in this school system and other rural school systems need much more support. For instance, children with dyslexia need specially trained teachers, therapists, and tutors. And families like mine would benefit from funding to seek out these professionals. The reading program I use with Emily costs $3,000.

Updated on Tuesday, January 9, 2018