Austin Drabick used to steal his mother’s jewelry and bring it to class to give to his teacher.
“He would do anything to please his teacher,” Kera Drabick recalled.
That’s why alarms went off in Kera’s head last year when Austin’s fourth-grade teacher at Urbana Elementary called home and said he had become a behavioral problem in class. Austin had been given a writing assignment and an hour and a half to complete it. He didn’t write a word.
“I knew then something was wrong,” Kera said. “None of my children have ever [had] behavioral issues. And Austin, especially, is a pleaser. All he wants to do is please you.”
After several meetings with the school and little progress, Kera went outside of the school system and got Austin tested for a learning disability. In November 2016, she paid $580 for a two-hour assessment, and a four-hour review session to try to identify his issues.
The test showed that Austin was writing at least a grade level below, and scored between the 25th and 10th percentiles in writing categories. Meanwhile, he consistently scored above the 50th percentile in math categories.
The test showed that Austin struggled to develop ideas and put them on paper.
“I know what I want to say, but I just,” Austin paused. “I don’t know. I can’t write it.”
Austin was identified as dysgraphic — a disability similar to dyslexia but which causes an inability to write coherently. Kera decided to get him a tutor to help him with his writing. Meanwhile, the meetings with the school system went on without a clear diagnosis or identification of why Austin struggled.
More than 14 months later, on Jan. 30, after five meetings with the school, Austin was diagnosed with dysgraphia by his school.