Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What aren't we seeing

Evidently, there's something not quite right with scheduling blogs on Blogger. This was supposed to post on 5/15. Apologies for the delay!

It's been a rough spring. We started 2013 with a SAT team meeting that earned Dylan direct intervention (RTI) but only in math. By the end of third quarter, it was obvious that intervention had helped (his math grade went from an F to a C) but he was still failing science and social studies. His reading and language grades were adequate to good, but that didn't really help him since the school wouldn't provide remediation for his failing subjects, only language/reading.

His teacher, seeing the writing on the wall, suggested that we accept the fact that he will fail fifth grade and focus exclusively on math and not worry about science or social studies. Although I could totally see her point, I just couldn't agree with demonstrating to him that it was okay to let those subjects go. I wanted him to try.

Grades aren't final, but it looks like he will fail science for the third quarter in a row, while he will squeak by with a D in social studies. Stunningly, he will fail reading.

I wish I could say that the school is falling all over themselves to figure out what's going on and questioning why a child who has always passed reading is suddenly failing. But as usual, the school is rather relaxed in their approach. They have sent me a notice about a 2 week summer program in math, language, and reading, but they can't really tell me much about the program, especially how it will be different from Sept. - May instruction.

A few months ago, I applied for Dylan's admission to a local private school that strives to have a balanced mix of struggling learners, "regular" students, and gifted students in each class. Struggling learners are given the opportunity to work in very small groups in the subjects that they have trouble with. They also offer art at every grade level, science lab every week, and loads of interesting clubs. It sounded ideal for Dylan.

It also came with a big price tag but I took the plunge and applied for financial aid. After all, I was able to go to a pricey Seven Sisters college thanks to heavy financial aid. We aren't in such a different position than my mom was when I went to college.

A few weeks ago, Dylan spent the day there to test out his fit for the school. I know he had mixed feelings, but he was definitely open to the idea. He sees first-hand how he struggles and really does want to do well in school. That said, he has good friends where he is, so his emotions were conflicted, understandably so.

I got the call on Friday: Dylan was not accepted to the school. When I asked why, I was told that the teachers reported that Dylan seemed sad and didn't seem like he wanted to be there. Although that would seem like a good-enough reason why he shouldn't be there, the fact is I'm willing to bet his current teachers would report the exact same thing.

The fact is that he does seem sad a lot of the time. He doesn't interact with his class. He does shut down. And it's getting worse.

I was really angry last week when I realized that he had just filled in random multiple choice answers on a take-home test. Now that I have cooled off, I've started thinking about how his academic life has taken such a downward spiral.  School seems to be practically painful for him. I don't doubt that he has ADHD, but I feel as though we are missing something. We know he has anxiety, but is that the real root of his problems? Is his anxiety really so much worse than we realized? Is it paralyzing him?

In July, Dylan will go to SOAR Camp for a 3-week academic/challenge course. He's excited about it and I'm hopeful. Maybe this is just what he needs - to be around kids like him and to be challenged, independently, to show who he is. Not to the other kids, but to himself. He needs to believe in himself; to believe he CAN. Because I know he can, and I want him to be able to show it to everyone else, especially the non-believers at his school.

(c) The Argonne Chronicles, 2013


  1. I'm so sorry for Dylan's struggles. Does Dylan see a child therapist? Would that help?

    1. Dylan does see a social worker. And an occupational therapist. And the psychiatrist. I have info on some behavioral psychologists but have mixed feelings about it. He saw a learning specialist some time ago, but we couldn't afford to have him keep going. I have some names of others. I feel sometimes like all the poor kid does is see people. But at the end of the day, the school really needs to step up. He's so smart - everyone agrees. We just need to tap into it. I wish we had a public alternative to traditional school here.

      And, sorry I didn't get in touch when I was in the Boston area! As often happens, there were too many family demands on my time. My next post will explain some of that. But I'll be up there again at least once if not more this year.

  2. My heart goes out to Dylan and honestly, to you too. It is painful to watch our kids struggle and it makes me seriously angry that we have to let kids fail in order for them to have help. I am shocked at how little help he is receiving.

    I wish I had some advice or something but I really don't. But please know that I care.

    1. Thanks, Leeann. That makes me feel good. It is shocking how the school has been so laid back about his struggles. But they are much more interested in the kids who are at the top and make their scores look good. Dylan (and I) are just a nuisance to them.