Last Lap

This parenting gig is a challenge. Anyone who says otherwise is sus. I had to take a minute/post to brag on my kid, my oldest. So many of my posts were about the challenges of parenting my son, and they all still stand. That is just our experience. His and mine. Our family’s. It isn’t bad, it isn’t better than anyone, it’s just our path.

Our path led somewhere finally. So, my son has been on an IEP (modified accommodations in school for various and specific things) since kindergarten. We became aware of his sensory issues and later his Dyspraxia/ADHD (inattentive) and I worked with teachers every. single. year. to help get him supports that would allow him to learn side by side with his peers.

All of our moving around did not help this kid. We always did it for the greater good, and i’m sure there are some benefits to adaptability and resilience for him, but socially, academically, it was pretty devastating.

Recently, a few factors aligned : My son found his reason, and his post high school plan + age and maturity + my own findings while I am in school to get my teaching degree = SUCCESS!

I recently found an article about how certain factors: English as a second language, certain disabilities, can mask high aptitude in students. If a kid is bouncing off the walls and never sits still long enough to take a note or follow through with homework, how can you fathom that this child might be able to work at a higher grade level?

So, for my kid, he has always been crazy smart. Always interested in science. Usually working outside and ahead of what is happening in his class at the time. Can tell you all about nuclear power, why we should be using hydrogen fusion based energy, can tell you all useful and useless information about every planet, can recite all the known facts about black holes …

It goes on and on where his interests lie. This is not the mind of an incapable and unintelligent human. Having found this information, I asked that along with his IEP reevaluation, he get cognitive/IQ testing done. Lo and behold, the results are in at the same time his grades have finally come up and MIGHT be stable .. ?!!

For the first time in his education, my son sat in on a meeting where his EXCEPTIONALITIES were lauded. The astonished looks and impressed dialogue was about where he overachieved and where he has grown. NOT about what grade level requirements he doesn’t meet, or what accommodations he needs to meet the bare minimum of his peers. He impressed his IEP team – of educated adults – with his abilities. I am so grateful this moment happened for him, as late as it did, I’m just glad he had it. He got to feel special, and not just special ed. He got to feel seen and validated for what we – his family – already knew. He’s incredibly intelligent.

The massive lesson I hope many parents come to understand if they have a kiddo who does not excel in a typical classroom setting: Our kids can shine in so many other areas. Gifts are gifts. My kid wont be valedictorian. He wont be on the honor roll, but by working side by side with him and understanding his limits, being honest with him about what we think is important, his worth is not tied up in his grade point average. His gifts don’t shine in a classroom, and that’s ok. He is respectful to his teachers. He is respectful to his classmates. He knows how to advocate for himself. He understands that a high school classroom is a place where some kids shine, and for him it’s a stepping stone to what is next.

A few key points I want people to take from this – especially because I might be your kid’s teacher one day – be honest with them AND yourself. Forcing teachers to pass your kids or to insist on elevating grades that were not earned does not help your kid. Have your kid understand that teachers and staff work on a team FOR said student. The goal is always to support and make the environment the best possible situation to learn. I had to listen to lots of teachers tell me things I didn’t know about my kid. Kids are different people in a classroom setting than they are at home. The more willing you are to work with the staff that is in your child’s life for a majority of their days/weeks/months, the more options there will be to make your child comfortable and successful at school….where they might struggle to get through the day. Not all kids are gifted students. Classrooms are incredibly hard to function in for a lot of kids for a number of reasons. Just because school was where you shined, does not mean that is the experience of your child. Some things cannot be forced. Sometimes it’s not as simple as just giving them a wobble seat and all inattention is solved. It’s ever-changing.

I just wanted to brag about my crazy smart son. Classrooms were overwhelming, scary, unsafe places for my kid. Teachers sometimes would resent the extra work my son demanded of them. They didn’t always believe he was worth the effort. Other students at times made school a scary and unsafe place for him where he had no one to back him up. Things other kids found fun and exciting : school dances/sports: were incredibly painfully uncomfortable for my guy. Getting pulled out for various therapies was, i’m sure, embarrassing and undoubtedly there were times my son wished he were just like everyone else. But today he got to hear all the things he’s done right. All the reasons he’s exceptional. I am one proud momma bear. ❤

2 thoughts on “Last Lap

  1. I’m so glad that you son has gotten this opportunity to shine! My Asperger’s son finally got there, too. He’s a successful mechanical engineer, now, and we couldn’t be prouder. When all those psychologists suggested lowering expectations, we didn’t listen. He was too smart for that to be his future. And he is happily living independently, driving – all those things that they said would be too much.


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