Has He Been Diagnosed With Something?

When Dylan was in third grade, he had a teacher who not only didn’t understand him, but also didn’t care about him.

Before the first day of school, Dylan’s third grade teacher skipped “Meet the Teacher” day, which is when I would usually introduce Dylan’s particular idiosyncrasies to his teachers.

By mid-September, Dylan was coming home saying that he’d missed recess – again. I didn’t know yet about ADHD, but I knew one thing about Dylan: the boy needed to move almost as much as he needed to breathe. So I went in to talk to the teacher.

I met her in the hallway. She said she didn’t have time to talk to me because it was lunch time and she needed to eat. So, in the hallway, I very quickly said, “Dylan can’t be kept in from recess. He needs to have physical activity in order to do well in school.”

“Has he been diagnosed with something?” she asked.

“Diagnosed? No,” I said. “But ….”

She waved her hand, interrupting me. “I’m not giving him any special treatment unless he’s been diagnosed with something.” And she walked briskly away.

I just watched her go.

That year was a nightmare. We begged for help from the principal, who had serious issues of her own. I spent that year keeping records of the emails I sent to the teacher, which went unanswered. I spent hours with the school guidance counselor, who seemed to know exactly what Dylan needed – but was powerless to help him. And we had meeting after meeting after meeting with the school principal, whose understanding of Dylan was non-existent.

And for six months, Dylan’s teacher kept him inside during recess, day after day after day, forcing him to complete his work – work that he couldn’t finish – before he was allowed to go out and play with the other kids. Finally, after countless fights with the administration, we got something into place called a “504” that forced the teacher to allow my boy to play for those precious 24 minutes a day.

The following year, Dylan escaped that school, that teacher, that principal, when he was accepted into the GT program that changed his life.

But I remember third grade all too well.

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