If you’ve been following the struggles of Tony, a twice exceptional student, you know that he is gifted and dyslexic. He makes twice the effort at school, and unfortunately, his parents also make twice the effort to help his teachers understand their child’s struggles. If Tony were less compliant and eager to please, he would already have the full attention of all involved. If he were not so adept at masking his disability, his teachers might also better understand the tremendous effort he makes each day. For example, as we completed his writing survey, Tony admitted that he expends considerable effort working around his spelling weaknesses. He will try to think of easily-spelled synonyms for words he wants to use but can’t spell. Given his strong vocabulary, this “work around” is within his reach, but that process takes a toll. Not only does he exhaust mental energy and working memory in this process, but he must confront strong feelings of stupidity (“I can’t spell like other kids”) and panic (“I won’t finish on time”). All the while, he is trying to appear on task, trying not to alert his teachers or peers to this laborious process. Here’s a review of his perspective on writing (described in more detail in post on writing graphs).
Tony’s parents are quite remarkable advocates for him, as you probably noted in their email to his teacher. With their permission, I am copying an excellent document they created to help Tony’s teachers understand factors that mask his struggles.
I look forward to the day when we have effectively conveyed these concerns to his classroom teachers, improving the quality of life for Tony and his family (hence my desire to improve my skills in Crucial Conversations). I’ll keep you posted!