Today I get to brag a little. Today I got an awesome email from one of my son’s teachers saying he is now working at grade level math.
For anyone new to my
drama asylum blog, my son has never been at grade level. He has challenges associated with Dyspraxia including ADD and sensory issues. Last year we were shocked to find out he is above grade level at reading, but everything else – writing, comprehension, math – was below. At least one grade level. He has had an IEP (individual education plan) team since first grade and we’ve been at this school since 3rd grade. 3rd grade was not a good year. It was a crappy teacher, it was a new campus, new principal on campus, it was a hard transition. The team confronted me with testing results similar to a kid with ADHD before we had gone down the road of diagnosis. The teacher was pushing for outside homework help, and the principal flat out asked in front of the entire team after revealing the similarities between my kid and an ADHD kid if I was going to medicate him. Not a good start with me.
Fourth grade had a great teacher who was very encouraging, if overworked, slightly uninspired, but very compassionate and supportive. My husband and I decided to tiptoe down the terrifying road of medication. After a year of one-on-one assistance for our son, he was still unable to focus and follow through. Since school help gets no better than one-on-one attention, we had to do something for him.
The medication road is a very bumpy, dark, judgy road riddled with potholes and caution signs. It became overwhelming and we felt defeated more than once. I found people who understood the path and asked questions, confided, and shared stories. It made it easier. It made it so that I could continue until we found the right formula. No one really explains how difficult it is to come to the decision only to find more road blocks and let downs with failed prescriptions and wrong dosage and suspicious side effects. You work so hard to be okay with allowing your child to become dependent on a synthetic drug that you can’t help but have immediate assumptions. When the first doesn’t work, you doubt. When the second doesn’t work, you worry and doubt.
We lucked out and did the work and stuck with the program until we found the right combination. Today was the payoff. Last week I asked the new teacher for an idea of how the year was going. Did he still need the aid in the morning to help him stay on track for the classroom routine? Was he still relying solely on the teacher to reinforce the task schedule? Was he still sitting idle if not directly prodded into doing something?
No. I was told he was a pleasure to have in class, he works alongside his peers, he was an independent fifth grader who was giving no indication of drowning.
This took a minute to sink in.
Today another teacher wrote a followup regarding his math work and how he now just works on the assignments the rest of the class gets at the same time. Along with writing tasks, what he rarely does not complete in class, he will take down to the support center but all classwork is at grade level.
This could not have come together at a more perfect time. He transitions to middle school next year and the thought of my kid keeping track of six different classrooms, six different subjects and work and teachers was/is terrifying. It’s less so now.
On the way out of school today we ran into his fourth grade teacher. I stopped and with my son beside me we told her, “He’s at grade level math now!” She appropriately praised him for his work but then turned to me after thanking her for her help last year and said, “You know who really helped him, right?” I responded, “Well, he’s done all the hard work.” she smiled and just looked at me and said, “True. But you know who really made it happen for him? You did. The squeaky wheel gets the job done. You did a great job for him.”
I held back my initial answer of “medication” but that isn’t true either. She’s right. If you can get over the resentment and anger and frustration of having to fight for your kid in an arena where you really shouldn’t have to, good things can happen. If you can get through the humiliating, frustrating, heart-breaking meetings where all you are told is deficits and fight for everyone to see the positive and ability, you just might get through and effect change for your kid.
This is not to say he will never again struggle. He surely will. That’s what growing is all about. Now I have faith we can overcome the next struggle because he is a whole, confident, capable boy who has a team of people who have no choice but to believe in him.