I had an interesting conversation with a staff person at my son's school today. Although she knows him well, today was the first day she really watched him try to do homework.
"Is he on medication for his ADHD?" she asked when I went to pick him up.
We talked about all the medications he's been on in the past 2-1/2 years. She was shocked. "Because usually they help them to settle down and focus," she said.
Don't I know it?!
We proceeded to talk for at least 15 minutes. She specializes on special ed and she said that his level of academic disability really qualifies for a school to pay for a "shadow," someone who would help to keep him on track. That is...he would qualify if we weren't at a charter school.
You know, at one time, I supported charter schools. After all, being a charter helped our school get back up and running after Katrina. But I'm learning that all the things I've heard about charters are true. They are exclusionary. They find ways to keep out the kids who bring the test scores down. They wear you down until you leave and go somewhere else.
So, on the one hand it was refreshing to have someone really understand what it's like to work with Flipper*, but on the other it was that sad, brutal understanding that no one can/will/wants to do anything about it. (Actually this teacher would LOVE to do something about it, but her hands are tied.)
I feel as though helping my child is like working on a puzzle. I've got the picture of what it should look like - a picture of success with encouragement, self-esteem, and building on strengths. The only problem is that I've only been given half the puzzle pieces. I have to search for the other pieces and they are all in different places - online, at clinics, in doctor's offices, in teachers' classrooms, in learning centers. Sometimes, the puzzle pieces don't even seem to fit, or seem broken. Even more often, those puzzle pieces are out of my budget, so even if it looks like the perfect piece, I just can't buy it. I just can't help my son. I can't create that beautiful picture of success.
(c) The Argonne Chronicles, 2013
*I'm thinking about giving my son an alter ego. What do you all think?