Month: December 2013

Who Is He, If Not an Angel?

My son can’t remember where he put his shoes.  He doesn’t finish or turn in his homework.  He spins and leaps everywhere he goes.  He often forgets to brush his teeth.  Without a doubt, he has ADHD.

But God gave him the voice of an angel.  And for a change, I just want to concentrate on that today.

Click below to decide for yourself:

Dylan sings O Mio Babbino Caro.

How Do You Think the School Can Help Your Child?

Our incredibly inefficient 7th grade special education “facilitator” – who has not facilitated anything, and in fact has made many things more difficult – emailed me.  She asked me to please fill out the attached Parent Report form for our upcoming meeting.

“When is the meeting?” I emailed back.  No one had informed me of an upcoming meeting – and parents are, by law, supposed to be notified so that the meeting can be rescheduled if necessary.

But instead, we find out that the meeting is next week.  I’m certainly glad they require a Parent Report, or we may never have known.

The form asks several questions: What are your child’s learning strengths? and What have you noticed about your child’s behavior? etc.  I always do fine answering them – until I get to the last question.

How do you think the school can help your child?

I am always stumped by this one.  At first, I walk away from the form because it is too troubling.  I come back and stare at the question a bit longer.

How do you think the school can help your child?

I want to say:  I honestly don’t believe the school, as it is, can help my child.  My child needs a completely different school system.  Montessori would be good, I think.  Dylan learns best in a hands-on environment with plenty of interaction and stimulation.  He needs very little from his teachers.  He excels when given a huge project, plenty of time, and gentle guidance.

Please, could you just change the public school system to one in which kids can learn by doing, instead of by sitting in a mind-numbingly boring classroom listening to someone drone on at the front of the room?  Could you eliminate worksheets and homework, just for my son?  

Or at the very least, could you give him teachers who don’t care if he stands on his head while he works?  And could you be sure he’s not penalized for curiously studying – by touching – every single thing in the classroom?

Also, it would be good if he could sit on an exercise ball, or hang from a set of gymnastics rings while the teacher talks.  Again, this is only necessary if he has to listen to lectures.  If you can arrange the Montessori method for the school system, he won’t need to bounce because he’ll be too busy learning.

Instead, I stare at the page.  Dylan is struggling so badly now, I doubt there’s anything we can do – except putting him back on stimulants – that will help him succeed.  I know I won’t get what I ask for, because of some dated school policy that I won’t learn about until next week.  But I make my requests anyway, instead of voicing my true feelings.

How do you think the school can help your child?

“Perhaps there could be a way for Dylan to re-hear classroom lectures – audio-recording them? – so that he can go back over them and gather more of the information.  We also need to be sure he’s getting – and going over – notes from the lectures.  Recently (and finally), we’ve also learned that his best success in math – and possibly his only success in math – is when he works one-on-one with someone else.”

How do I think the school can help?  Really?  By changing absolutely everything.

This Is The Crux.

The boys are too smart.

If my kids were not smart, it would be so easy to get help for them.  They could go to special classes or special schools and even ride a special bus maybe.  Labels like “mentally challenged” mean that people expect nothing from them.

Kids who are mentally challenged don’t have to go to college.  No one expects them to do that.

I spent much of this holiday weekend with my sister-in-law, Barbara, a 57-year-old woman with the mentality of an 8-year-old.  She spends most of her time mimicking what she hears, often very well, but she doesn’t have the capacity to think.

Barbara and I were driving in my car recently and she said she was hot.  She asked me to put down her window.

I thought about my toddlers opening their own windows.

“You can open your own window,” I said.  “There’s a button right on your door.”  Our car has two buttons on the door – one for the window and one to lock/unlock the door.

She looked at her door.  Then she locked it.  She unlocked it.  She locked the door again.  She unlocked it again.

“Huh,” she said, completely befuddled.

“Try the other button,” I said.

She pushed the other button.  It has to be kind of pulled back, rather than pushed down, to get the window to go down.  She pushed it hard.  Then she picked at the button.  She pushed it harder.

“Try to move it a different way,” I said, which is what I said to Shane when he was two.  But she couldn’t figure out a different way.  She tried to take the button off the door.  She pushed it gently.  She pushed it hard again.  She simply couldn’t navigate a way to open that window.

“Huh,” she said again.

I opened the window for her.

Barbara took the special bus to a special school and went to special classes.

To be fair, I do not wish my kids could take a special bus to a special school.  I am glad that, so far, they don’t even need special classes.

But Dylan gets up from the table to put away his glass and instead ends up dancing a jig in the other room.  When reminded about what he’s supposed to do, he picks up his glass and spins around with it, all the way to the sink.  Sometimes it still ends up by the coffee maker instead of its intended destination.

Dylan can’t find, finish or turn in homework without incredible amounts of struggling.  And now that he’s on the second new medication, which supposedly takes another month to test, his grades are reflecting someone who can’t open his own window.

Yet Dylan can, actually, do anything.  This weekend, he started playing the piano, on key, along with the radio.  This morning at breakfast, he conceptualized an underwater village – with air supply – so that time could move slower (which it does in low-lying places) and people would live longer.

He’s so bright, most of the time I can’t keep up with him – and I certainly could never come up with, or do, most of the things he does.  I simply can’t.  He’s too smart.

So I expect that he can also find his homework.  He can’t.  I expect him to find his shoes.  He can’t.  I expect him to know when something is missing or incomplete.  He doesn’t.

Dylan can think.  He thinks very well.  He figures out some incredibly complex problems.  But he can’t get his glass to the sink, his paper to the teacher, or – often – his ideas onto paper.

He can think very, very well – but he can’t make his thoughts come to life without a ton of help.  This is the crux of the problem.


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