Usually in the summer I sit back get creative and enjoy. This summer has been chaotic with many slams pushing me in various directions. Some days I wake up with no idea which way is up.
As some of you know we've had a rough time with public school and Z. Lots of meetings, and data collection. Lots of disagreement with people that I have to turn around and ask to be on my team for work. I really do live in two worlds with this - parent world / teacher world. Basically Z has had great difficulty with reading. We went through progress monitoring with lots of conflicting data. Finally we had the districts dyslexia screener. Just know that a screener is a joke in my opinion. It tells you nothing except potential for what ever your screening for and does not give solutions. Z has been given screeners for many things and it has resulted in a lot of unanswered questions and more conflict between us and the school. As for the dyslexia screener - it is discriminatory toward the gifted. Let me explain, and don't get on the "educational need" kick because that is so subjective that it's not worth the discussion today. It is worth the discussion another day. So, with the dyslexia screener there are two tests. When they look at the test results they use the bell curve to determine standard deviations. If your child scores average in the first test, and 1 standard deviation of below average in the second test they will continue the testing because they are likely to be dyslexic or possible a learning disability. Here's how it's discriminatory toward the gifted. If your child scores superior on the first test (the farthest point on the bell curve) they have to score 4 standard deviations to continue testing. That is almost the same as saying that a typically developing child (some times called normal) would have to score in the mentally retarded range to get help. That's if we're applying the same rules to everyone. But we're not. So for the gifted child this means continued frustration at school, decline in reading abilities because guess what! They can't access the curriculum. And what do people say to the parents who's kids fall in this category. "Wait a year. They'll eventually hit the wall and can't keep up anymore." This means it has to hit crisis level before anyone will help this child. Really?!?! And we're socked that our greatest growing drop out rate is in our gifted population. They do not have access to the same resources as other children. They are isolated from like minded peers and not given access to appropriate learning environments. As I've heard more than one kid say now - they feel "trapped" in their minds. Parents do research, they advocate for their children, and they get labeled as "weird" or my personal favorite "one of THOSE parents". You know what? "One of THOSE parents" are my favorite parents. They know exactly what is going on with their child. They are invested in their child. They are seeking a partnership with the school for the benefit of their child. Most of them are very well educated in many things, but especially in helping their child. They use their time to find solutions to helping their child. Something teachers cannot do for every child they service. It's all about the partnership.
So after being quiet for years about all this I've decided that I need to blog about it. Z is entering 3rd grade. Each year we receive reports from the school that he's at risk for reading. Evey year they say it's not bad enough yet. I'll be honest - the child can't read at grade level and hasn't since kinder. How do I know. I read with him almost every day. It's painful. His fluency sucks to the point that he doesn't even understand what he's reading. He finds it painful to read and tries every tactic to avoid it. He is able to articulate what is wrong, but that doesn't seem to matter. He's to gifted to get help apparently. Oh, and that's the conclusion after taking him for several evaluations because school thought he was ADHD. Then we took him to a neurologist where basically we were told to tell the school to back off and service him appropriately as a gifted student. That is totally a joke in the state of Texas. Then we took him to the optometrist at the school request to rule out vision problems.
This week Z went for educational testing that we paid out of pocket for because he cannot go through another year like the previous 3. He needs answers and help. I had to ask my 8 yo child to miss out on camp to sit for 5 hours straight to do educational testing. He sat in a room with a woman for 5 hours doing the exact things that we are asking for help with. Guess what he said it was like, "It was HARD". Guess what the evaluator said "He tried his hardest". It will be a few more weeks before we get the results, but I'm having to keep my mind open. The evaluator asked if I saw the signs of autism. Yes. I have, but I don't think they're severe enough. Do I see where people would say ADHD - only if they aren't educated in the needs of the gifted child and how to work with them. Am I ready for a diagnosis of dyslexia- yes. Reading disability - yes. Excited about it - no.
It is never fun to hear that your child is different. I've already heard that when he got accepted into gifted programs offered by the school. Even though people don't realize it,when you say "Oh I can't go out tonight we have QUEST night", they have a reaction. I've heard parents tell me how horrible it is for children to be in the QUEST program because it's just extra work or what ever they want to say about it. For us it offers 30 minutes a day (sorda') of relief for our kid. It's 30 minutes a day where he is appropriately placed and receiving education at his level. He does not get an IEP to accommodate for the rest of his day despite being gifted the rest of his day. 30 minutes is all he's allowed. If there's not a special event at school or the teacher being out, or certain times of the year when she has to do testing...... What ever.
So I'm having to wait to hear yet again how different my child is. I hear it from the school. I hear it from camps. I hear it from friends. I hear it from neighbors. I hear it from everywhere. It's part of our life, and part of our isolation.
Now for A to go to Kinder. Are we excited. No. Here we go again. Guess what - she's different too.
Sorry for the unedited free flow of thought on this post. Expect more.