There are two parts to this story. The first is a tragic one, the whittling away of a twice exceptional student by rigidity and invalidation. No matter that the child’s psychologists, evaluator, parents, and tutor have tried to help his teachers understand the tremendous cost of working twice as hard at school. He’s in a school with a strong emphasis on following the traditional rules for homework, no matter the cost. They have reneged on every modification to homework that has been implemented, plunging the child and his family into a torrent of confusion and despair.
To borrow from an old song (“To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” by Nina Simone) this student is struggling To Be Young, Gifted and Dyslexic.
Because this child APPEARS to be fine, because he is hardworking and compliant, the modifications he desperately needs are diminished, ignored, and invalidated. He’s been whittled away, challenged, required to explain his disability over and again, drained, bored out of his wits, discouraged, humiliated, and embarrassed.
The second part of the story is a testament to the courage and determination of his parents. They have gone above and beyond in their efforts to maintain a working relationship with staff and administrators who appear blinded by preconceived notions and unwilling to budge from “the way we do school.” Like many parents of special needs kids, they are worried about alienating the folks who spend all day with their precious son. If you have an exceptional needs student, you know the balancing act between advocacy and conflict. These parents have supported their child through it all: encouraging him, coaching him, and trying to protect him from the harshness of his intolerable situation. They are now searching for an environment which will not only meet the academic challenges of their son, but which will give him an opportunity to shine.
Will they find that environment? I remember reading a poignant article written by a mom of an autistic son. As she looked back over his school years, she noted that he had always been a “square peg,” subject to painful pounding into a round hole. There were only a couple of years out of 13 in which he experienced a measure of success.
This whittling away of a child’s soul is both heartless and unnecessary. Thank God for parents who are willing to fight an uphill battle for their kids.