You have have to read this

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-10-2005
You have have to read this
2
Mon, 04-20-2009 - 8:26pm

I found this on a website link through the school board. It's long but well worth the read.

I could have written this...it's my life exactly.

By: Anonymous

I sit uncomfortably in the little room where we have gathered to discuss my son's behaviour at school. The principal is friendly and tries to put me at ease, but when I look at the unfamiliar faces gathered around the table, I can't help but worry: how can I make them see my son through my eyes?

His teacher begins, describing his defiant and rude behaviour in class. Who is this child? There must be some mistake, this isn't my son we are talking about!!! My son is polite and easygoing, surely they must know that? The psychologist asks us how we deal with these types of behaviours at home. I look at her blankly, searching for a similar example to those his teacher has described, but nothing comes to mind.

It hasn't always been easy at home. He was a difficult child, determined to carve out his own path. But that was when he was three or four. We worked on clear and consistent routines: the morning routine, dinner table rules, the bedtime routine...

And we practiced.

And practiced.

And practiced some more.

And now, after getting dressed in the morning, he heads downstairs to put his shoes on and make his breakfast. When I turn off the lights in his room at 9:00pm, he is tucked in bed with pyjamas on, teeth brushed, having already had his glass of water and read to himself for half an hour. There are no bedtime battles.

This is the child I know.

Sure, there are those days when he needs constant reminders, needs to be brought back on track. Those are the days when I head into the kitchen to find him with his head stuck in the pantry, a packet of instant oatmeal in his hand, a blank look on his face. Lost in a daydream that is far more captivating than the task of making breakfast. Annoying, yes. Irritating if we are already behind schedule. But defiant? No.

I sometimes yell at him and then feel badly. He is only 7, after all, and constantly fighting the pull of that other world. He really tries, and he is improving with age. Would I do any better carrying out mundane tasks if I carried around an imaginary universe in my head?

Short attention span for tasks that do not interest him. Those are the words THEY use. I know I should feel concerned, but having only recently finished writing a thesis, all I can feel is sympathy. I think back on the mountains of sunflower seeds that I ate while writing the literature review. The days when I only wrote one or two pages. Short attention span for tasks that do not interest him. Aren't we all like that?

But no, they're right. He is different. He has a short attention span for anything anyone tries to teach him. He has always been a self-directed learner; the idea that someone else can impart useful knowledge is completely alien to him!

He taught himself to read when he was three. He picked up basic phonics rules and applied them to anything in print, including license plates. He read many words incorrectly - the English language is fraught with inconsistencies - but he didn't give up, sounding out words of any length. He then worked backwards, deducing longer words from the context and applying the newly discovered phonics rules to other words.

Trial and error, that's how he learns.

That's how he learned to use my work-related software on our home computer, teaching himself features of the software that I had never explored. When we both sat down to learn how to use a web design package, he was the one who taught me. How did he know so much when he had never seen that package before???

He doesn't want to be taught, and why should he? His self-directed approach has served him well so far! He asks for help when he encounters a problem he doesn't know how to solve, and then he listens attentively.

I have always maintained that what sets my son apart is not how advanced he is academically, or how quickly he learns new material, but rather his intense drive to invent and explore. Just as other children need recess to burn off physical energy, he needs time to create in order to burn off mental energy. Maybe the reason he behaves so well at home is that here, he has so many opportunities to do just that.

Making treasure hunts for his little sister.

Building miniature golf courses out of construction paper and toilet paper rolls.

Reading the mountains of books I continually buy for him.

Designing his future laboratory using "3D Home Architect".

He keeps that mental energy focused and uses it constructively. Surely this characteristic is a strength? This is something we should work with and nurture, not try to fix! It will serve him well as an adult, when he starts up his computer software design company...

I dream of setting him free in a room filled with books and educational materials, to pick and choose based on his current interests, with an adult to guide him when needed. I have no doubt that in this way he would eventually cover all he needs to know to receive a high school diploma, and then some. But this isn't possible in the public school system. He couldn't be counted on to dutifully follow the government's predetermined curriculum: "What, learn two years of math in 3 months and not pick up a math book again for the rest of the year? That's unheard of!"

And so he is disruptive.

He refuses to participate in group activities.

And they want to evaluate him for behavioural issues.

But the behaviour is merely a symptom, how he expresses his anxiety and frustration over the disparity between his preferred mode of learning and the classroom environment. Wouldn't it be nice if he could learn to behave even when uninterested? Or politely suggest strategies that would make it easier for him to be a participating member of the class? But he is only 7 and bright though he may be, he does not understand why he is different. The carrots and the sticks work, for a time, but his frustration always wins out in the end. Like treating pneumonia with cough syrup, there is a risk in ignoring the underlying problem.

I tuck my son in bed. He is sound asleep, clutching his favourite stuffed rabbit. He looks so serene. And vulnerable. I hold him in my arms and cry - I am not strong enough to mother this complicated child! And yet, I love him all the more because of his special nature. His needs from me, to protect him and ensure his happiness, are especially great as a result of it. How can I make them see that?

Tracy....still smiling

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-01-2007
Wed, 04-22-2009 - 9:13am
What about home schooling. He seems like the perfect candidate for a homeschooling group. They are much more hands on and learn what they want through your input and the way you set up the school. He sounds like a very intelligent boy and gifted perhaps and ADHD and gifted don't always do well in the classroom setting I know because my Ds is in 5th and struggling in school despite the medication. I have been looking for an appropriate homeschool situation (he won't learn from me) but I think he is going to tank in middle school. I also need some options.He does not want a "ADHD school" because there are alot of other dissabled kids and he doesn't feel right. but because of his report card having 2's(below grade level) in all executive funcioning area, not in grades for cirriculumn, he has been turned down to several programs. We are still working hard to get him admitted somewhere with a better atmosphere and teachers that will follow the 504.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-10-2005
Wed, 04-22-2009 - 10:13am

DS is not doing terribly in the public school system. I did consider home schooling but felt that he needed to learn the socialization - academically he has completed the kindergarten curriculum.

He has an EA (education assistant) with him all day and he is able to take whatever breaks he needs. He is gifted, based on testing, but the school board does not recognize a gifted designation until grade 4. He has taught himself to read and is currently at a grade 2/3 level.

This year has been a much better year in terms of the school at least listening to me and trying things. It's not perfect, but it never will be - I have accepted this. Since ADHD without a LD does not qualify DS for assistance, the school has requested that we "label" him "behaviour" which will allow him assistance and an IEP for next year.

I've had to bite my tongue on this one and go with the flow for the benefit of DS.

DS has settled quite a bit from last year and I'm hoping things improve even more next year in grade 1. Don't get me wrong, everyday is a struggle and requires more energy than at times I think I have (especially with 2 other kids to split my time with). I'm staying optimistic!

Tracy....still smiling