I'm mentally exhausted & I really need your advice. PDF Print E-mail
Written by OHmommy   
Thursday, 03 November 2011 00:00

I have felt, for the last four years, that my child wasn't getting enough support from our public school because my child has always been borderline passing. Just typing "borderline passing" sends me in a fit of tears wondering what I did wrong. Two elementary school aged siblings from the same parents given the same opportunities and one child is nearly failing school while the other one is being recommended for the gifted program. This one thought has consumed most of my waking hours today, which started at four am when I woke up gasping for air - my very first panic attack that lasted until I received a phone call from preschool telling me to pick up my sick third child. Never before did I welcome such a distraction.


I hate that everyone I know reads this stinking blog. I hate that everyone will know that I have a child struggling. I hate the word borderline. I hate not knowing what I did wrong.  I hate that I listened to teachers instead of my heart. I hate that I had a panic attack when I know that there are many others worst off. I hate asking for help.


All I can think of, to describe our current situation, is that my child was left behind. My child has been dragged along barely holding on during school hours (for four years) and while I understand that there are many more children that probably need more help, my child is now totally and completely left behind. So much so, that my child admitted to just tuning out this year because it was all just too much to process. Stab in the heart. Which wasn't the case in kindergarten when I sensed a problem and begged for extra help. Or in first grade when I begged for an IEP, sensing my child's frustration, but was told that my child met the "benchmark". By second grade we finally arranged an IEP meeting after months of school and well... school broke out for the summer after only a couple of short months of intervention. Enter the third grade and I haven't heard anything, not a word, from the teacher since August and now it's November (parent-teacher conferences) and my child is behind. Very, very much, behind. Below the "benchmark" quoted.  Dude, my child was left behind.


I spoke very little English in the third-grade. This gives me hope for my child who was born in the USA.


I've reached a road block. I'm a horrible mess. I have no idea what I should do next. We are spending an insane (seriously insane) amount of money every month for an interventionist from another school district to tutor my child. The Cleveland Clinic pediatric doctor we have, will not allow any testing done until the school deems it necessary and no one at school has called me back after a tearful voice-mail message I left yesterday. I have known, in my heart, that my child has had a learning disability since kindergarten (or earlier) but no one around me will admit it.


My husband was diagnosed with a learning disability in the third-grade. This gives me hope because he is now an amazing doctor.


I've never, in my life, have felt more alone but filled with so much hope. I know there's a light at the end of this tunnel but I don't know how to get there. I don't know what I should do next. Please, I beg of you, tell me your story because I feel like I'm about to crumble. What do I do? Who do I call? What's my next step? How can I fight the school district - can I? Does private school offer more one-on-one help? What are my child's rights? Does my child have rights? Will I survive motherhood?

Last Updated on Monday, 07 November 2011 07:46


# Miss 2011-11-02 22:41
First off, you WILL survive, I promise. I don't have any of the right answers to the rest of your questions but have you looked into Sylvan? My aunt had them help with my cousin and it turned his academics around.

Good luck sweetie, you know where to find me should you ever need anything.
# Cyndi 2011-11-03 10:16
Not sure if I am replying correctly or not. Hope you will see this. I could have written this year. Our child is now in private school and thriving. She still struggles but they love her through it, helping all the way. I just want to offer you this one piece of truth offer to me that has helped me tremendously. - Intelligance does not skip a child within a family. If you have one being tested for gifted program 2nd child has same intelligence ability. Some kids just have a different path to showing it. Look into private school!
# Sarah 2011-11-02 22:46
P, your boy is amazing. He has grown up loved, will continue to grow up with those feelings, and besides being challenged, he knows nothing different than being loved. I promise you that this is the case. I was Jay when I was 10.

Push him as much as you want from here on out - remind him that you love him and you only want him to do what he wants to do, and what he excels at. Not only will HE do this, P; YOU will do, this too. Let him rest when he says that he's tired, or overwhelmed. Remind him that you love him no matter what he does at this point; P, hun, you are an amazing mom and you know this. Rest assured that you will do the appropriate thing.
# Tam 2011-11-02 22:48
I want to tell you it will be ok. I don't have a story (well, I have a story, but not like this) but it will be ok. I can hear you crying out for action and support and guidance and you will have it, all of it. Because you are your child's advocate and you won't stop until hell has been raised, and your child gets the support needed. Keep fighting, and know we are in your corner. xx
# Rachel 2011-11-02 22:49
Huge hugs to you.

First of all, keep calling the teacher and the principal and then MARCH up there if your calls aren't returned after another 24 hours. Don't wait around any longer than that. You have to be your child's voice and advocate in this situation. Don't be afraid to demand the testing and don't give up on getting it. You do not want another school year to go by without getting your kiddo the right resources. . . you're right -- your child is getting left behind by this school district/school and if it continues too much longer, it's just going to get harder and harder to catch up (and, your child is going to become more despondent about it all).

I was a high school teacher and I can tell you that parents HAVE to be the squeaky wheel for their child. Whether they are in kindergarten, 3rd grade, 7th grade or 12 grade. Don't stop pushing.
# SC 2011-11-02 22:49
I don't have school-aged children yet, but I do know that with you as a mother, your child already has a head start to conquering the challenges ahead.

# Selfish Mom 2011-11-02 22:51
I saw your plea just as I was heading for bed. For you I'll stay up a little longer. :-)

You have the key to get you through this because you know the hurdles that you and your husband overcame. You know that your child's fate is not sealed in third grade.

I'm a huge believer in public schools, but not all public schools are equipped to handle all kids. A good friend of mine took her son out of our school a couple years ago because he was floundering. She found another public school nearby where he is now flourishing.

Stick to your guns. It sounds like the key will be getting the right diagnosis for the learning disability. Keep shouting until the right person hears you.

And give yourself a break. This is no more your fault than it is your child's.
# Brooke 2011-11-02 22:52
I am a former special ed teacher and parent advocate. This happens, sadly, all the time. The best resources are at Wrightslaw. I would recommend getting outside testing done (and there are places that will do it- I will try to find some) and not relying on the testing used by many school districts. Some of the testing makes it seem like learning disabilities come and go when they should be testing for memory, processing, and other potential areas of need as opposed to judging a child's ability to absorb information by reaching benchmarks.

Your frustration is valid. And there are people who can help. If you need anything, you can always email.
# Kelly 2011-11-02 22:52
First of all, I'm sure that you haven't done anything wrong. Many siblings have the same opportunities but learn at a different pace. I have a good friend and a relative that both had a learning disability. They are happy, healthy and successful adults now. You will get through this!

I'd call the principal again on Friday morning. Do they like the current school?
# NotJustAnotherJennif 2011-11-02 22:59
Oh, I'm so, so sorry to hear this. I'm reading via @elainea's tweet. I wish I had some advice. I have a 4 YO and 2 YO, so we aren't to that stage yet, but I am constantly worried about how school will go for them. Hang in there, mama. Hugs!
# BitchinAmy 2011-11-02 23:02
Oh, Pauline... I was in this exact same spot only a month ago. But with my 6th grader who is struggling and behind and nowhere close to where he should be with his classmates. Even though he is a joy to talk to and obviously such a bright boy who wants to please his parents and teachers. It is heartbreaking. And the tears we shed in frustration, disappointment, shame, and concern for our children's future is what will drive us to make sure they get all the support they need to make things better for them at school so they can succeed.

I went to the IEP planning session last week and they re doing IQ testing and a barrage of assessments to find out where his difficulties lie and we are meeting again the first week of December to discuss the findings and come up with a plan. --Keep pushing for the testing and go from there. If your school district has the resources, make them use them to benefit your child.

# Michele Shores 2011-11-02 23:03
First off I'd find a new doc bc your the parent if you want him tested he should order it. Second I'd pester the h*ll out of the teacher, principal whoever to get a meeting. Ck your local private schools. Most do not have the same access that public have towards testing & help. Can you move him to another public school since yours (the school) is failing you? Have you thought about home schooling? My oldest has had issues but our school & teachers have worked with us. Praying for wisdom. You are his advocate so keep fighting. You are NOT alone! Lots of love being sent to you!!!
# Elaine 2011-11-02 23:03
I don't have any sage advice but I want you to know that I'm SO sorry it had gotten to this point and that you are so heart sick. I will pray that things can get worked out soon and you can have some peace of mind and that he can get the help he needs. Yes, all of that, I will pray for. xo
# Leslie 2011-11-02 23:04
My kids are too young for me to give you any advice from experience. But I can tell you that you know your child best. Listen to your instincts. He's not getting what he needs at that school. Rather than fight the system, can you try to find another place that he can go? Do you have options for other schools, private schools, Waldorf or Montessori schools? Can you home school him? This isn't your fault, but you can help him find an environment where he can learn the way he needs to learn. Don't panic, he will get back on track once things get figured out. It may take some time, but once things are settled, he will catch up and will likely excel because of your hard work. Best of luck to you!
# Brittany 2011-11-02 23:05
I'm really not sure why the teachers are not doing more. They should be much more on top of things. I agree with Rachel, keep marching into the school and hound them-principal and teacher. The teacher needs to start collecting data, so it could take a while. You may want to start collecting your own data as well. Find tests, report cards, and anything else that your child struggled with to bring to the meeting with you. Also, has your doctor given you the appropriate forms for the teachers to fill out? I've filled out several forms for my students even before the IEP process started. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me. I'm working on my masters of admin and can tell you more specifically about Ohio school laws (I'm in Columbus).
# Heather B 2011-11-02 23:07
There is absolutely nothing YOU did wrong!!! Some public schools just don't have the resources to attend to every need! With that being said, they should listen to parents who feel their child is lacking, NO MATTER WHAT! Being the child of two public school teachers, my advice to you is to go to the school tomorrow and insist on talking to the principal. No ifs ands or buts!!!!! She needs to know your concerns as does his teacher. It amazes me that he is below on his benchmarks and she hasn't contacted you AT ALL!! That is not acceptable in my book!

Don't stop talking to any one you can to get them to listen. You are his best advocate!!! From what I know of him through your blog, he is a great kid because of you!
# Marta 2011-11-02 23:09
Pauline, I've been reading your blog and following you on twitter for about a year now and I can tell you with utmost certainy that you are an amazing mother. You will survive motherhood. You did absolutely nothing wrong. It's awful that he was left behind, that the school system failed you and failed him. But you are right he can overcome this. Both you and your husband overcame obstacles to be the people you are, so will he. He'll be stronger for it too. It's okay to breakdown sometimes, it's okay to ask for help and most of all it will be okay. I know we're not your family, we're not Chicago but we are all here for you, all around the world, we're here.
# Nic 2011-11-02 23:12
This just brings tears to my eyes! And I'm not just saying that I really just felt your emotions!!! My child has a speech delay so I can sorta relate. I've had to follow up constantly and push for supports. Just remember that change is not an event it is a process and you are stronger then you think! You started the process of change by sharing your story. I wish I could help you more. Nicole
# Amiee 2011-11-02 23:12
I have read your blog for a long time and don't think I have ever commented, but thought I would share our story. My second little boy has always struggled with school. In first grade, the public school he was attending tried labeling him dyslexic, ADD, and others. As his mom, I really felt that their diagnosis was incorrect. He is a sweet, timid little boy that "shut down" in the classroom. My husband and I made the hardest decision we have ever made and decided to homeschool. We didn't have anything against the public school system, it just wasn't right for our little guy. Now, we can work on things that he is good at and allow him to excel and incorpoate his interests into different subjects. We now homeschool all the kids, and although it is a huge undertaking, we are completely in contol of our childrens future and they are no longer "left behind". I know homeschoolong is not for everyone, I never imagined it would be
for me, but it has given our little guy such an opportunity to succeed!
# Jon Whetzel 2011-11-02 23:13
I feel your pain on a different side, I am the son who struggled through school, especially in the earlier years. I was always just doing enough to get by and had it not been for family within the school system I'm sure I would have been left behind. As I got older and slowly found myself enjoying school it got easier. Just try your best to not let your son tune out or become negative towards his school, that will be hard for him to recover from.
I am now relatively well educated and have a challenging job that I enjoy most days. I attribute that all squarely to my parents who were there every step of the way- when i failed a class in HS and when I was kicked out of college. The college kick out was pretty much because I had better things to do than go to class. Point is, I did get on track, graduated and Im fine now. I tear up just a bit now thinking back to seeing how proud my dad was when he hugged me at my college graduation. Be strong for your son, think about your own challenges you had with school and what you did to overcome them. You will be great and he will reflect it back to you.
My mother is a special education teacher who has been deal with kids for 40yrs. She does lots of IEP testing and working with children in one on one and small class setting. If you would like to contact her, I have included her email.
Lea Whetzel
# Sarah L. 2011-11-02 23:16
As a former teacher, I am shocked that he/she has not contacted you before now. If I had a struggling student, I would be sure to contact the parents long before parent/teacher conferences so that there would not be any surprises.

Also, I agree with Rachel. If you do not hear anything back from the principal by tomorrow morning, I would march in there and demand to be seen. Do not leave until someone talks to you...principal, vice-principal, counselor, resource teacher, etc.

My oldest is only in 1st grade so I do not have a lot of other advice for you...BUT I do know that you are an inspiration and cheerleader for your children. Jay feels loved and accepted because you show him that every.single.day! Big hugs to you...
# Liz Gossom 2011-11-02 23:18
My stepdaughter has a math disability. For a long time there wasn't any real help, but this is the 2nd school year after being transferred to our county (read: civilized education) and she is passing both of her math courses in 8th grade. We are very proud, but it has been blood sweat and tears to get here.

Keep encouraging him. Provide opportunities for him to excell in other areas that can give him confidence to push through this area of challenge.

You will survive! You were born to be his mother!

(and now I will go write that last sentence on my bathroom wall so I read it to myself every day)
# @analogyqueen/karyn 2011-11-02 23:22
I have 3 boys. My 2 oldest ones are 18 mos apart. My oldest is a great student. Always has been. Total over acheiver. My 2 nd son from the time he was born was totally different. I knew he had ADHD when he was really little, but nobody believed me. He was diagnosed in 3rd grade. Praise God. He will never be a great student and he's a senior in high school now. School isn't geared toward his type. My story was similar to yours. Stand your ground. You are your child's ultimate advocate. I wish you the very best. You can do this.
# anymommy 2011-11-02 23:25
I am at the very beginning of this school thing, so I just want to lend my support. You are someone I look to for parenting advice and learn from regularly. I have no doubt that your gut is right and that you will figure out the best thing for your fabulous baby who needs the material presented in a different way.
# Jessica R. 2011-11-02 23:26
First, breathe. You've noticed the problem and started rattling cages. You're ALREADY winning. He is young still and it's SO not too late to turn things around and help him catch his footing again.

And yes, he does have rights. If the school won't listen and ask for the testing and everything else you need you can always hire a child advocate to come help support you at the meetings.

He's going to be ok. How could he not? He has you in his court!
# Dawn 2011-11-02 23:26
I am mentally exhausted and need to go to sleep but email me and I will give you ideas tomorrow (I'm a speech pathologist so I do know ins n outs of the other side)
# lauren 2011-11-02 23:36
I have a gifted child & a struggling child who has an IEP in place. I would encourage you to make in-person contact with the Special Education director at the Administrative level of your school district. I would not make a phone call or leave a message. I would get in front of the person who is in charge.
Have your concerns written down in bullet points so that you make sure to communicate all of your concerns, because you will get emotional & it will be easy to leave something out.
The next thing I would do it find a new doctor. For my family, there is no loyalty in medicine. If a situation is not working, find a new medical advocate for your child.
Depending on what the outcome is with the District Administrator, moving your child to a new school to start a fresh program could be beneficial for you and your son. Two of my friends just held back their boys & moved them to new schools. It has been a huge blessing for them both. Their boys are excelling in their school work, as well as their social interactions.
Advocating for your child is difficult, but it's a huge part of your job as a mom. Do not take "no" for an answer. Stay calm. Be courteous, but firm in your demands that your son be serviced properly.
If you continue to hit road blocks, contact your state department of education and request an advocate.
You can do this.
# Jayme 2011-11-02 23:44
I've been a fan of your blog for some time, but this is the first instance that I've felt compelled to comment. My heart broke reading your story.

My baby is still a baby(ish), but my sister has 6yo twin girls, and when they started school, it became very apparent that one had some difficulties. The school did the same thing to her that yours is doing to you. So she went rogue. She contacted a private pediatric behavioral/learning specialist, and took her daughter in for an independent evaluation (not sure what sort of health insurance you have, but it was covered under her PPO). When the results came in that my niece had some speech and comprehension delays, my sister took these results to the school, demanding the intervention she asked for initially. She was rebuffed. So she did the only thing left for her to do: she took her daughter out ofmthe school, got a recommendation from the ped specialist for thrice weekly therapy/tutoring, and she found a school more suited for her needs. The girls, while in different schools, are now on the same level.

Just keep banging on doors until you find one that opens.
# Alexandra 2011-11-02 23:44
Oh, what can I tell you to help you?

First of all: you are NOT alone.

Second of all: NEVER give up.

I have homeschooled our 3 children, boys, on and off, for ten years now.

The situation depending on the school, the teacher at the time, the classmates, the principal then, how they are doing.

I have changed schools when I've had to.

Never tire: NEVER tire.

Keep going: you know your child best. Do not doubt your God given instincts.

Go to the library and read, read.

Go online and check out forums.

Call your local Children's hospital and ask for an education specialist there to assess your child.

These are all things we've done that are INDEPENDENT of the school and their staff and their budgets.

Never give up, keep on fighting, keep reaching out to us.

Knowing you're not alone gives you SUCH strength.

Compare yourself and your child to NO ONE ELSE.

He is yours, and yours alone. and you get one chance at this life gig to be his voice.

Let him see you smile and beam proudly when you look at him.

The words I say to myself daily, "accept your child for who he is and watch him blossom."

When I"ve run into situations where the school staff does NOT accept my child for who he is. I fight, and do what I have to do, to have him be in an environment where he can feel proud of himself.
# Joy 2011-11-02 23:45
I agree that you have to be the squeaky wheel! Put on your mama bear suit and call the teacher, the counselor, the principal, the vice principal, and since no one has returned your calls or addressed your concerns thus far, start calling upper administration. Trust your gut, and know that no-one loves your little boy or understands him like you do and also know that things will work out just fine for him because he has a mama who loves him and whom I am sure will absolutely go to bat for him!
# Kelly C 2011-11-03 00:06
My now 4th grader was struggling in public school in kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd. We tried everything. No one would listen. It was heartbreaking to watch my child struggle so much. Finally, after many discussions and research, we decided to homeschool him. Two years later, he is testing at above average levels. I know that not everyone can homeschool, but it has worked for us. It has brought my family so much closer AND my child is thriving. Maybe one day he will return to public school..maybe not. For now, this is what works for us.

My only advice is to follow your gut instincts. Do what is best for YOUR child, no one else's. Don't let family, friends, or even the "experts" tell you any different. Only YOU and your husband know your child like no one else. Do what is best for him, and everything will fall into place.
# Hilda 2011-11-03 00:10

You definitely have rights! These people have all given great advice. I'm a 6th grade teacher and have an open line of communication with my students' parents, making sure I reply to emails and phone calls as soon as I get the opportunity to do so. If the staff at the school level is not accommodating your child's special needs, you need to go to the district level. You can ask for mediation if you don't agree with the IEP or placement. Have they talked to you about a Section 504 Plan?
# Jolyn 2011-11-03 00:50
Ok, I am just so sorry, just want to say something at least. I apologize in advance for the length.

My youngest still struggles with sensory integration/impulse control/difficult-to-define issues that suffice to say made him less than the ideal classroom student. Even though he is intelligent he came home (in kindergarten, mind you) saying, "I'm just a bad student." So we're homeschooling now, and I'm not trying to avoid his challenges, just ... not highlight them. He has his strengths; he has his weaknesses. I didn't want his weaknesses attached to his academic success.

I know him better than any of his some seven-plus therapists who helped him (SOOO much) throughout a two-year time span (speech and OT, especially OT) and while I may not be a professional expert, I am an expert on my son: I listened to the labels and learned what they meant; and I watched my son and interpreted what they meant for him. I found labels useful for understanding the problem, and for explaining it, but not for dealing with it or for moving forward...
# Jolyn 2011-11-03 00:52
I will say that I learned to separate private therapy from the school district's. I even stopped telling his teachers/school therapist what he was doing in private therapy; I just sagely nodded a lot when they told me what they thought he should be doing. Because what the private therapists were teaching me was working; and what the public school therapist was doing wasn't. But a public school IEP was required for our insurance to sign off on private therapy. Oh, the irony.

Public schools simply have different boxes that they check, and they seem to be for their purposes and not for the child's. For instance, privately, my son benefited the most from OT. But by his school's standards, he didn't even qualify for OT...
# Jolyn 2011-11-03 00:52
I'd be surprised if some of your friends/readers don't advise you to homeschool, if even for a little while. It's not about recreating school at home; but about allowing him time to learn at his own pace and learn to deal with and strengthen his weaknesses, while also affording him more opportunity to focus on his strengths (and you know what those are, mom). In fact, research has shown that allowing someone to work within their strengths will actually improve their "non-strengths" as part of a natural process. I do recommend Caroline Leaf's "The Gift In You" for more on that as well as for encouragement to you as his mom. Unfortunately, the public school system has trained us to focus our energy on improving (or not) our weaknesses; they just can't accommodate all of the intelligences and ways that different people are geared to learn.

Wow, I went on. But this topic is so close to my heart. I would be interested to know what, exactly, his IEP is for, but I understand the need for discretion. Blessings and much love to you. ♥
# kasia 2011-11-03 00:55
Get him tested despite what the DR says and trust your gut! If there is a diagnosis, they'll have to start paying attention.
# Kathie 2011-11-03 05:41
Hi Pauline, I love to read your posts because it takes me back to when my kids were young... So I want to let you know that I think you are a amazing Mom. Your kids are going to have so many amazing memories of the great adventures and just the time you spend with them. Your son reminds me of my daughter ... She always struggled with school, and was just a bit behind. She would be so frustrated with the work; especially math. I cried a lot about it, and was at the school alot.. I felt she did not get the attention because she was and is a sweet nice girl , and flew under the radar. She is now married, an amazing Mom, and has her own business . Fight for what you believe your son needs... And know you are doing a great job as a mom.. It goes by in a blink... Before you know it they are grown....
# Gabi 2011-11-03 06:42
Hi P-
I am SO SO sorry that you are going through this. I wholeheartedly agree that you need to be the squeaky wheel! There are independent testing places as well. We had our son tested by a neuro psych that had no connection to the school. (My boys are at an independent school, so they don't provide testing anyway) You really need to have your child assessed, and then you can go to the school district and make them provide the services your child needs.
You WILL get through this, and knowing what little I know about you, your child will end up thriving! It is a long process, and very frustrating (I have a good friend at our local public school who just went through this when her child was in 3rd grade) but it is so worth is. Her child is doing well now will all the extra support.
(((((Hugs to you))))))
Gabi (Tickled Pink Talk)
# Cynthia Six 2011-11-03 06:44
Sounds so familiar!!! I have a daughter - the same exact age and problems in public school third grade- ina "blue ribbon " school district. First, be calm. Second get an outside diagnoses from an outside source. You can request an IEP meeting at ANY time and go in to the meeting with the test results. Communication is the KEY. Have your teacher update you weekly and PUT this request in your IEP. I also got a sp Ed tutor to help with my daughter. Good LUCK!
# Melisa 2011-11-03 06:51
I don't have experience with this issue personally but I can tell you that you didn't do anything wrong, and he will be fine. It sounds like you are doing all the right things in trying to get him some help: you just have to stick with it. You're definitely not alone: I feel like I know more people who have children WITH learning issues than people who have children with no learning issues!

I think you'll find after sharing this (and I see it in comments already!) that there is no need to be mortified that the people who read your blog (IRL friends and internet readers alike) "know you have a child who struggles". You will probably end up taking comfort in the fact that you shared this because in allowing people to read about this, you are opening yourself up to support which will hopefully soothe your fears and provide fresh ideas that you may not have thought of before now. There's nothing wrong with asking for help: you'd want your kids to ask for help if they needed it, right?

Stay the course, and I'll be thinking about you.
# Loukia 2011-11-03 07:09
I'm sorry, P. You are being pro-active and doing what you can. Keep trying and helping him. I haven't faced a challenge like that one yet, as my oldest is only in grade one, but English was my sexing language, and I always had tutors. Be positive. Knock oh doors till you get answers. Meet, talk, test, whatever you feel is right. xoxo
# Abby 2011-11-03 07:23
The first post I ever read on your blog was about a similar situation, a few years back. The post was not as direct as this one, but I knew one of your children was struggling and that you were going to do everything in your power to ease that struggle. I remember admiring how open and honest you were in that post. I also remember thinking how I want to be like you when I have children of my own: a champion for my kids and their education.

Go with your gut. Rally for your son, regardless of what the system says. Your kids are lucky to have you as their mother.
# Megan 2011-11-03 07:27
The key is to not take no for an answer. Be a bitch if you have to. You know your child; trust your gut. Do some research and get an idea of what you think the issue might be so you're armed with evidence, then be the squeaky wheel. Get testing privately if you can.

Good luck.
# Ryan 2011-11-03 07:27
Big hugs to you! There's no progress that could feel fast enough right now.

Be gentle with yourself...and know that baby steps are STILL steps forward.
# Managed Chaos 2011-11-03 07:29
My heart breaks for your hurting and struggles. But if I know one thing about you, it's that you'd do ANYTHING for your children. In good times or bad. And you WILL survive this precisely because of that love.

I'm not sure I have the magic answer for you. Switching districts seems difficult (with your nearby districts not having open enrollment). And I'm not sure what you think about homeschooling option that has been suggested.

I can only encourage you to not take NO for an answer at your school. Be persistent, even if it means showing up unannounced at the principal's office or getting private testing.

A mother's intuition is never wrong. Trust yours and you will find the way my friend.
# Mark Ely 2011-11-03 07:30
You have to remember that not everyone learns the same way they want to teach everyone. I know that sounds convoluted, but it's true.

Your son reminds me very much of how my brother was in school. My parents tried everything inside and out of school, elementary to high school, with little or no luck, to get him caught up with his class. Nothing ever worked. He got by, but just barely. They constantly agonized over it.

He was able to get into college and it was there he found that he could learn about things that actually interested him. The rest his history. By the time he was 28 he was running a multi-million dollar company, doing something he loved.

Help him to find and explore the things he loves, because if he can find that early on and do it professionally, knowing how to find the cosine of a triangle won't make a shit bit of difference.
# Kimi 2011-11-03 07:37
My child is only a year and a half but I can tell you that my husband who is dyslexic and struggle through some subjects throughout school is now a very successful computer programmer. I know this is a long way off but Muskingum University in Ohio has a fantastic program called the "Plus Program" for helping college students that need that little extra tutoring, etc during the college years.
# Kelly 2011-11-03 07:38
My daughter is only one, so I do not have any stories, but I know you're an amazing mom. As we were both former teachers and now mamas, you know what it's like on both sides. YOU know J best and follow your gut and push to get what he needs.
# Amy 2011-11-03 07:50
Everyone has said everything I wanted to say.
Just remember you have your girlfriends to lend a shoulder to you here in CLE. We love you and your family and feel your pain. Trust your gut and keep going at that principal,teacher and counselor and make them do their job for your son.
HUGS and you are not alone.
# Sheila 2011-11-03 08:02
I feel like I can't say anything that everyone else hasn't already said. Other than to encourage you in that you are a wonderful mom, and you have a wonderful kid, that just so happens to learn differently. We have four children, 3 biological, 1 adopted, the 3 are all self-motivated, over achievers, the 4th has had tremendous struggles in school. We have done neuro feedback, lots of extra tutoring, now we are doing this vision therapy. All outside of the school. The school has given her some extra help, but I as you feel there are so many kids who are worse off, I feel like my school is overloaded with those kids. We have seen the light at the end of the tunnel this year (3rd grade), Oh did I say we held her back a year in after 1st grade...that was the hardest decision ever, but now even though she was mad I made her stay back while her friends went on, now we are seeing she needed xtra time, and she realizes it too. Every child is so different. I pray you find out what works best for yours. And it's ok that your child isnt enrolled in Harvard already...I think we put way too much pressure on each other to have perfect children, we are not perfect. God made us each unique with our own gifts, whatever the struggles are that your beautiful child is going through are going to prepare him for his future...guaranteed! Hang in there. look forward not back. Today is a new day! hugs to you.
# Jen 2011-11-03 08:12
Unlike most parents these days you care and it is hurting because you care about your child. I struggle everyday with my son who is ADHD and some days I want to ring the schools neck. We are the only advocates for our children and if we don't do it who will? I spend many sleepless nights worried about my child and school, so you are not alone.
# Rhea 2011-11-03 08:30
# Kim from 3 peanuts 2011-11-03 08:35

I have not read all the other advice but I would contact an educational psychologist and have him tested on your own. It is expensive but I did this with Will (twice) and it was worth every single cent. He is now the Vice President of the National Junior Honor Society and a straight A student applying to a high school for gifted children. School is easy for him now. but it wasn't always.

The school testing SUCKS. Do not rely on it. After you find out what his strengths and weaknesses are, get him the help he needs. A good educational psychologist will arrange the IEP meeting for you and tell the school EXACTLY what your son needs. They will also be able to recommend any private therapies/tutoring he might benefit from. We have spent $ on speech, OT and all sorts of things to get Will to a GREAT place and it was the best $ we have ever spent. he is a confident and organized 8th grader now.

Kate is struggling a wee bit with specific areas of kinder this year and I have already talked to a tester about having her tested this year because I know that is the way to go if you suspect anything at all. DO NOT blame yourself. Just make an action plan and go for it.
We go to public school too and it is a fabulous one here but they are not really good at diagnostics. So for this stuff, I always call in the big guns and get private testing and help. PLEASE e-mail me if you need anything else.
# Kim from 3 peanuts 2011-11-03 08:44
I wanted to come back to tell you that most private schools DO NOT offer more help. When Will was in private school they did not have to make any accommodations. They did let him chew gum (recommended by the ed psych) and it did help him. And they let him use a special cushion (Sensory stuff). But that was it. Other private schools have said..."we are for the average to above average child." We have no resources for kids with learning differences.
I am sure some do or can help. But public has been the best fit for us. Really, they key is a thorough and accurate diagnosis from a very qualified diagnostician who will follow up and help you advocate. Here, they even recommend the best schools based on their findings.
# Tiaras & Tantrums 2011-11-03 08:47
my son was diagnosed at age 2 with SI (a sensory processing disorder) Our ped didn't want the tests eithr - but I went over her head - I KNEW something was wrong! There was the SI and MORE (he was considered borderline autistic) through intense early intervention my son is AWESOME today (150 IQ) and gifted beyond my wildest dreams.

P - follow your instincts - that is the best advice I can give you - fight for your little man - before he really starts to check out of school. If that means paying for the testing yourself (we did) then that is what you do. If it means going to another, more expensive school for one or two years, then that is what you do. Anything to get your little man back on track . . . your heart will be settled and at peace then!

Good Luck with the school
# kakaty 2011-11-03 08:49
A few hours of tutoring, no matter how fantastic, will never make up for 8 hours of tuning out. Force the school to talk with you. Don’t take no for an answer. Your doc won’t order tests because learning disabilities are often not considered medical issues; the medical community/insurance cos usually see it as the school’s issue. Talk with the interventionist you are working with – she knows the ins & outs of the laws & can help you find the right path. She may also be able to help you have him assessed (you may pay out of pocket).

Borderline kids tend to cycle above & below the line for services so they may qualify one year & not the next. However, I am shocked that you had an IEP for him last year & the school has done nothing to continue that this year. I would dem& answers.

This is a last resort, but you may want to consider other schools. & not schools like Hawken or US, as tempting as those are. Most private schools do not get any funding for kids who struggle & many times the stragglers are counseled-out. But Montessori & Waldorf schools are great for kids who struggle because they get individuated programs & attention. There are also many local public schools that excel at working with kids at both ends of the scale – the stragglers & the gifted.

Bottom line, Pauline, is that you & your husb& are fantastic parents who will advocate for your kid. He can be nothing but successful with you in his corner.
# Val 2011-11-03 09:25
I'm confused...is this the same child that exceled in Math because of Kumon? Just wondering because my daughter just enrolled in Kumon! Did it help or hinder your child's progress? Good luck. Don't beat yourself up over this...it's not your fault!
# Kristin K 2011-11-03 09:43
Hey P, so sorry you're feeling this way. Is your neighborhood the one where you can choose from 2 awesome school districts? If yours isn't working out for you, maybe talk to moms with kids on IEPs from the other district. I've heard good things about the interventionists in Solon ... I've even shadowed a few and I liked. Just another option...hang in there! Look how many people care :)
# andersons 2011-11-03 09:43
While I have not experienced this since mine is too young, i can only tell you that you have inspired me so many times via this blog on how to be better. I know comments like this won't fix your situation, but you are doing so much right already because of the love you have for your children and wanting what is best for them. Good luck!
# dziadek 2011-11-03 09:49
Is nothing wrong with my Grandson.He only needs different way to grow.He knows very well math,he like dance,he likes soccer ,he likes work for me --and much more ,he will be very succesfull guy .Look on me ,I am in this Country almost 30 years and my English is worst then my 8 years old Granddouther and soo what-I am succesfull guy without good english.You are The best Mother and you have very good Husband .You also sooo lucky becuuse You have very good Mother .Conclusion.Everything will be good.God is with You
# kasia 2011-11-04 00:09
Amen, dziadek speaks the truth!
# PolPrairieMama 2011-11-04 11:03
Dziadeks are the best! :)
# Elizabeth 2011-11-03 10:12
Hi Pauline,
I am so sorry that I am only just commenting now. I have much to say but will try to keep it limited.

Your story mirrors ours. In 2nd grade after constantly being told that she is "doing fine" but "struggling so hard to keep up" and "perhaps we should hold her back", I took her to outside testing. They refused to do the testng themselves because she was meeting benchmarks. Barely. Testing was about $1000 total but very exhausting for my child. Regardless, it was worth it. She was diagnosed with Inattentive ADD and dyslexia. With a diagnosis, the school had to help her regardless of meeting the benchmarks.

It's now 2 years later and she does still struggle, but she gets a lot of help from the school and the help we get privately is focused directly on her areas of issue. It makes a big difference.

Pauline, your son is smart, strong and beautiful. His struggles are only a part of who he is and does not dictate his future. Some children do not do well in a traditional learning environment.

We had to fight the school to get them to acknowledge that our girl has learning issues. That was fine. It will always be harder for her but she is blessed in so many other ways.

Anyway, private testing is my recommendation.
# Pam 2011-11-03 10:24
Your childrean are beautiful and brilliant! You will not only survive but thrive motherhood! I can only offer support! I would recommend as well be the squeaky wheel! :)
# Heather 2011-11-03 10:26
When my daughter was in 3rd grade her teacher told me (in JANUARY!) to find her a hobby, something she could excel at, because "she might not ever even be a C student". I was dumbfounded! And I was looking to her teacher, as the EXPERT, to help me understand why my child wasn't capable of learning normally. Because she wasn't the bottom of the barrel, she wasn't considered for resource room time. But, just because she wasn't the bottom of the barrel, didn't mean that she didn't need help. I think public schools do EXTREMELY well with the bottom of the barrel and the cream on top. But those in the middle get overlooked. I researched her sypmtoms online and discovered that it was VERY similar to a condition called Central Auditory Processing Disorder. Fortunately, I went to high school with someone who became an audiologist in a nearby school district who agreed to test my daughter independently on her own time (and at no charge). She typed up her findings and made recommendations to the school. Armed with that information, the school implemented an IEP at my insistence and she received resource room time all of 4th grade and part of 5th grade. This resource room time was INVALUABLE to her success in middle school (honor roll all three years) and honor roll as a freshman. Now a sophomore, she FIGHTS for every grade she gets. Things don't come super easy to her. But, she is equipped with the skills she needs to succeed based on the type of learner that she is.
# melissa 2011-11-03 10:28
i totally understand. my oldest is failing school and he is in high school. i have been, for years, trying to get him the help he needs but the school doesn't seem to be very helpful.
motherhood is the most difficult, heart wrenching journey any of us have ever taken. but, the amazing thing is, we are all in this together. and that is why our children will end up just fine. because they have ALL of us to support them and we have each other.
# Heather 2011-11-03 10:30
Continuing from above, get your child tested independently, even if you have to pay out of pocket for it. With out test results, the school is most likely not going to implement an IEP just because they have a sobbing mom on their voice mail. And even if the DO implement an IEP, with out test results, how will you know if what they are helping your child with fits your child's needs? Test results are key and well worth any out of pocket expense. You will not regret it. Hugs and Strength to you.
# Chiloe 2011-11-03 10:31
You're a great mom and i'm glad lotsof people gave you lots of great advice. Being in the same situation of you, I will get him tested. You feel something is wrong and you are probably right. Follow your heart. Hope you can get him tested to see if he has or not a learning disability. Hugs .
# sarah 2011-11-03 10:36
Hugs my sweet friend. I have been there and still fight daily for my children. I have two specail needs kids. They were behind most when we got to Germany. They are now on the path to success. You just need to keep fighting. I know it is trying and can make you tired.

What you need to know is this is nothing you have done. If i know one thing from reading this blog is that you are one hell of a mother. You fight for those babies like noone I know. Keep her with the tutor. The school should be helping with this cost. If they are not you need to remind them that they are part of the problem.

Contact your local socail service center. They will also have resources of people you can try and get help from. That maybe more affordable. Along with a 3rd party advocate. The 3rd party will look at her school scores and assessments. Then help you fight to get what she needs. We had one in CT and it truly helped.

Sending you hugs and prayers.
# Megan 2011-11-03 10:56
I don't have any stories to tell you, but I can offer you hugs and support. You and your husband are great parents.
# Krissy 2011-11-03 11:00
My niece,struggles a lot in school. My heart breaks for her after she texts me (7th grade) that she studied for a history test for 2 hours. I call her immediately, I quiz her over what she learned. She is confident and full of knowledge. The next day, she fails the test. It is simply that after she goes to sleep, her mind basically is erasing all her memory. She feels deflated every time. *sigh* The key to it all is being very demanding and very persistent. I mean very demanding and persistent. The principal hasn't called you back? Well then you call another time, or two or 100! My sister talked to my nieces teachers every.single.day and the principal as well. They finally came together and orchestrated a plan that has helped my niece a lot! But it took a long time and a lot of bantering from my sister until the school started to pay attention. You are standing up for your child, so you need to demand what you know needs to be done. You push them until they finally give. They WILL push back, but you do not give in or up! Turn those tears into determination. And if the principal and teachers do nothing for you, then you go to the school board or superintendent and you irritate them as much as you did with the principal. Eventually, something will be done.

You are not alone. Not in the slightest. You did nothing wrong. Your son did nothing wrong. It is a learning disability. So now, you need to find a solution.
# lceel 2011-11-03 11:04
Don't you DARE worry about what others will think!! That doesn't matter. What DOES matter is that you know your son needs help and you and your husband need to do whatever you can to get him the help he needs.

Annie and I went through this with our eldest and with our youngest. It was a struggle to get the schools to understand and to implement the 504 for the eldest - the IEP for the youngest. The only reason - THE ONLY REASON - the schools did what we asked is because we kept after them and kept after them until we got our sons the help they needed. We got them tested and assessed and it finally worked for them - but not until Annie and I had meeting after meeting with school officials and doctors and we were able to overcome every obstacle the school people threw in our way.

PERSIST. DO NOT GIVE UP. And don't you DARE worry about what other people think - they don't matter anywhere NEAR as much as your son. Focus there.

And listen to Dziadek. He knows.
# Elizabeth 2011-11-03 11:04
Geez. I have more to say. I just read the last paragraph of your post.

Before you proceed on a potential school change, find out what the his challenges are. You can then address his specific needs in the school system. My experience is that each school offers different that public offers help but they find ways around providing it and that private offers help at some schools and not others. For my daughter, she should probably be in a progressive learning environment. For $15,000 a year. We are struggling with making that change, for obvious reasons.

Every parent in the school is calling the principal, upset that their child isn't this or that or getting this or that. You, as the mother, need to differentiate your voice so that they hear you. I did it with the test results from outside the school. That got their attention loudly and clearly. That you have one child excelling is to yout advantage. The school can't dismiss this situation as easily. As you say, why is one doing well and the othet is struggling.

I am a believer in getting testing done. We spent SO MUCH money on tutors and this or that. The thing is that it didn't address her specific needs. We still spend too much but now it is addressing exactly what she struggles with.

I'll try to not comment now. You've hit on something that we have been dealing with for years and I have lived what you are experiencing. Good luck.
# Jessica 2011-11-03 11:30
I want to hug you; can we get that out of the way, please?


First, I have worked closely with teachers in the classroom & have seen situations like this arise. Your child will be fine because YOU CARE. Know that, ok?

Also, many times teachers' hands are tied when it comes to being proactive. (Un)fortunately they have rules, regulations & laws that keep them from doing things until a certain point; many times because parents have the opposite feeling that you do & fear their child is being "labeled" instead of recognizing that teachers are simply trying to help.

That being said, I don't know your specific situation, but I did want to take a moment to defend teachers for what it's worth - it's not always the educators, principals included. Many of them truly are trying just as hard as you are! Your children ARE loved!

Now, considering that you have as much "evidence" as you have in this situation, I think you should continue to reach out to the district, but remain as calm & understanding as you can. If you give them the benefit of the doubt, they're probably more likely to put more "fight" in their efforts for you.

I personally think that if your child struggles this significantly, the district should have addressed it in 2nd grade. Fight for your child and keep in close touch!
# Piper 2011-11-03 12:04

I know you wrote this post in a state of desparation. I bet you feel extraordinarily vulnerable, and probably still sort of wish you hadn't written this a little bit.

What I want you to know, and to thank you for, is that reading this post of yours has seriously helped ME feel like I'm not alone.

My youngest boy is struggling, and has been always, and is so completely different than my olded boy. I feel so lost and often helpless with him and his school work. I never know what I did, or didn't do. I feel guilt but don't know what I'm guilty of. And shame. Yesterday was parent teacher conf. I really almost didn't go just because I didn't think I could handle hearing bad news again. I feel ashamed just confessing that.

The good news is that here, in this TINY mountain school, he is finally getting more actually helpful help than ever has. Change of school has been enormously good for him, though he's still got a long way to go.

I'm sorry for rambling in your comment box, but YOU helped ME feel less alone, and less afraid, and you need to be told that.

Our kiddos will be okay. We'll be okay. Everything will be okay!

Nothing but love
# Jill Clark 2011-11-03 12:04
First, you are a terrific mother. I know your pain, and this is not your fault. You only know what you have been told and you put your trust in the experts. I, too, have a child with a disability and despite 18 months in Early Intervention (educational model), it took getting a diagnosis from a developmental pediatrician (medical model) before I could get the daily therapy and the financial support needed for the services. So, my advice to you first would be to not give up hope and seek a "medical evaluation". Then, you are armed with this when approaching the district. Good luck. You have my (and a 100 or so of your closest friends) support!
# naomi 2011-11-03 12:08
Hugs to you ... everyone has said it better than I can ...
# Piper 2011-11-03 12:11
ps. your sweet father's words brought tears to my eyes. so much love surrounds you and your son... there's no failing anything when such love is there.

# John Heaney 2011-11-03 12:26
I hope that you draw hope and optimism from all the support expressed in the previous comments. It's essential that you know that you're not alone and that you're not to blame. Like so many others, I had one son who excelled at University School and a younger son with auditory processing problems that took years to diagnose as we watched him flail at school. We were faced with many difficult decisions, including holding him back a year after 4th grade and enrolling him in Lawrence School so he would have the structure and curriculum he needed to excel. His entire attitude changed after learning that he just learned differently. Was it harder for him? Of course. It was harder for all of us. But now we know that he needs audible books to accompany his reading, that test preparation requires vocal engagement, not just reading the test prep sheets and that his best is just that. His. We also learned that he excels at math and science, will always struggle with reading and spelling and needs to be pushed to engage socially. The work never ends, so we do what we can to provide him the best chance for success and happiness. There's no doubt that your son knows that he is loved and supported. Keep fighting. There is likely no answer here that will solve your precise problem, but hopefully you can take solace in knowing that so many of us have faced similar problems, and have happy sons at the end of the day.
# PolPrairieMama 2011-11-03 13:25
Oh Paulinku, I'm sending you hugs even though we've never met before. From what I've ever seen from you, you are an AMAZING mother and your son is an equally AMAZING boy.

I have no advise for you. I wish I did. I have some friends who went through that and I'll ask them. All I can think to say is what others already did. Be the squeaky wheel. And know to take strength in the examples of your Tatusiu and your husband.

All I can add to that is that I have holes in my education due to my lack of comprehension of the English language and due to a crazy xenophobic teacher. And I ended up in AP classes in high school anyway. Because my parents were like you and cared.

Take strength, Mama! This too shall pass and your son will come from it stronger, wiser, and feeling more loved by his parents than ever before. Niech cię Bóg błogosławi.
# Kat 2011-11-03 13:44
Well, I think you already know that I have a learning disorder. I struggled with Dyslexia all my growing up years, though I never REALLY knew it until I was older. It didn't get diagnosed. I just wondered why everything seemed a bit easier to my classmates.
Is there a Sylvan learning center or some other type of tutoring center around that might specialize in learning disorders that can help your son? I suppose you already looked into that. It is just so disgusting that parents have to BEG for help from people that are supposed to be looking out for your child's best interest in the first place. Disgusting. I am so sorry you are going through this.
Have you looked into a parochial school or a private school? The smaller class sizes sometimes makes it easier for kids with learning disorders since they get more attention.
My prayers are with you. You are doing everything right. And just so you know, people with learning disorders (ahem, and dyslexia) are extremely bright, and think outside the box. They all have the ability to go on to very bright futures. Things will get better. No one will ever think less of your son or you because of it. Admitting you need help actually endears people to you. No one is "perfect" and a learning disorder certainly does not make anyone less than either. I know you know that, but I think you need to hear that others know that too. :)
Peace, and God bless!
# Kat 2011-11-03 13:50
By the way. Your dad is a very wise and lovely man. :)
# Anti-Supermom 2011-11-03 15:09
I read this last night and didn't have the right words for you, I'm so glad that people have written to you.

Every year, I question our choice of Chinese Immersion, is he having problems in this or that because he's learning a different language or because this is something he would have had issues with in a regular school.

It's OK to second-guess yourself, and you are a great mother to continue working on some solutions. Please keep us updated.
# Laur 2011-11-03 16:40
I stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago and have enjoyed reading it so much. I admire your honesty and asking for advice. I think you are doing the right thing. Please get him tested through a private outside organization and continue to call the principal until (s)he calls you back. I am surprised that the teacher did not inform you before conferences; I think that teachers should be required to do so. This way, there are not any surprises and to discuss options. Please know that from reading your blog, you are doing EVERYTHING you can as a parent and I could only imagine how discouraging it must be when no one will listen to you. Perhaps there can be other options during assessments...observational, testing via writing or verbally that the teacher could do? Please keep us informed and if there is anything I can do, let me know.
# feener 2011-11-03 19:09
go to a doc and get a dx of something.....go to everytype till you get one and then demand an iep ...i have a first grader who has ocd. i knew something was wrong when she was 2, i was in a living hell and keep going in circles. i finally got a dx of ocd and when i had the iep request meeting i brough in a video of her and her fits. she is perfect in school and is very smart....so it was difficult to get the team to realize she needed help.
# YoMamaMorris 2011-11-03 20:00
I'm not an expert, but I'd start by arming yourself with information. Visit the U.S. Dept. of Education website and find out what you are entitled to via NCLB. In the meantime, I would continue with tutoring and supporting your child where help is needed. I would also demand meetings with teachers and the principal. If they don't respond, escalate it to the superintendent. I'd find another doctor, too. Sometimes I equate schools to our healthcare system--you have to be your own advocate, research your rights & options and demand answers--even if it means being a bitch. I just try to be a nice bitch at first. Go with your gut. If you think there's a problem, pursue it. Mama knows best. Better to be wrong than have regret later. Hang in there!
# Ann 2011-11-03 20:21
Please just try to be gentle with yourself. I very much give over my faith to the experts--teachers, doctors, etc--because I just cannot be the expert on everything.

And sometimes it doesn't work out, but you had every reason to have faith in a system that worked for you and your other child. Until you knew/now know it didn't.

So you will navigate this with the passion and grace you are famous for. You will get your son what he needs--I know it.

But please stop beating yourself up for coulda shouldas. You now know you need to act and you are doing so. I'm so proud of you for reaching out.

# Jill 2011-11-03 20:38
Just sending you good thoughts, support, and love from across the way ... So many others have said it so much better than me. Just know you and your family are well loved!
# Karen German 2011-11-03 21:01
You will survive! You have to be the rock for him. He needs to see the strength in you to continue to surge ahead. I should call you. I'm in the same boat. I listened to my gut, and got my son private tutoring. It's helping. The scheduling is crazy, and I want to rip my hair out, turn to booze and I cry often. I try my best to keep positive and encourage him. It's not easy, but you will survive. You're strong mentally and you have a good heart.
# Melissa 2011-11-03 21:57
Wish I had something helpful to add here, but just wanted to say my heart goes out to you. This must be so unbelievably frustrating.
# Stephanie 2011-11-03 22:32
If you haven't guessed by now, you are not alone! You've done nothing wrong and are doing so many things right. It's good that you're starting so soon -- keep pressing on and being tenacious about this; the process is a long one. I'm very much regretting doing the "watchful waiting" with my kids. My pediatrician, too, wouldn't give me a referral till my 9yo started talking of death.

You've gotten so much good advice so far. Points I'd like to make/reiterate:
• Keep pressing! Your child is not the first concern of his teacher, his principal, or anyone else; you must make sure that he remains a priority.
• Document everything. Names, dates, times. Save copies. Copy people in on e-mails to make it harder for people to give you the runaround.
• There are private psychologists who can see you without a referral from your doctor or the school system, but you may have to pay out of pocket.
• Your son may well be "twice exceptional" -- gifted and learning disabled. These kids often fall through the cracks because their giftedness masks their disability.
• There are schools that specialize in kids with learning disabilities/differences. Julie Billiart and Lawrence School come to mind. But before you jump into another school, get a handle on what your son's needs are to help you make a good decision.
Good luck and God bless!
# Jeni Hill Ertmer 2011-11-04 11:39
I can relate to what you are going through right now! Been there, did that with two of my kids and knowing what I know today I'd have fought on more and more! With my kids, very little was known about learning disabilities, and things like ADDH or ADD, or even autism! I did do battle on numerous occasions back then, in those dark ages ago, with the school, the teachers too, all to very little avail then except for one teacher who did agree with me about holding my son back between 3rd and 4th grades but even that was not near enough to actually help him. My older child still suffers from reading problems that I fought and fought with teachers and the school trying to get help for her but lost almost all those battles back then. Today, I watch my two grandchildren, both diagnosed with autism and one is flying sky high, academically -the other not so much so but he has a few different issues than his sister has too so that's understandable. Their mother is right there, pushing, shoving and fighting tooth and nail to get them every ounce of help she can garner for them! So march your little fanny forward and follow your heart, your mind, because you know your children better than anyone else -what they are capable of doing and when that isn't being met, then go fight for someone who can help you and the child to meet those marks in life -academically, emotionally, physically -pushing, shoving and fighting whoever is in charge in this respect is not a bad thing. Not. At. All!
# gillian 2011-11-04 13:50
Everyone learns differently. You'll find the best way he needs to learn. You are mother...let them hear you roar.
# Marinka 2011-11-04 15:23
This is so hard. SO HARD. Because whatever the challenge is, it becomes multiplied and so much more personal when it is your baby.

I've struggled with each of my children in school in very different ways. What is easy for one often seemed like an insurmountable challenge to the other.

I agree with others who say that you have to trust your gut and not give up.

Good luck, I'm pulling for you!
# Chrissy 2011-11-05 22:01
I just read this. I'm so sorry, Pauline. I'm going through something very similar right now.

My son, who we know is on the autism spectrum, was just diagnosed with a learning disability. They added "LD" to his eligibility just last week. During that meeting (which made me feel like I'd just been hit with a ton of bricks - a learning disability too!!), I asked what can we do at home ... what private help should we be looking into. I was told - NO JOKE - "Just let us handle this. You continue focusing on loving your child and giving him confidence." Uhhh ... seriously ... I love that advice and that's all well and good BUT my son wouldn't be where he is RIGHT NOW if I'd left him in the hands of the school system and with what the government was able to help with.
# Chrissy 2011-11-05 22:01
My son was tested at age three ... he was barely registering on any scale. He was LOW, LOW, LOW on every test. It didn't seem like anything was in that head of his. He went to the developmental preschool but then went directly to a typical preschool. Both schools, EVERY DAY. We doubled or tripled up on speech, OT, PT, and learned ABA therapy. His ABA therapists had all the schools and US - his parents - on the same page. Because of all of this, my son started kindergarten with just speech therapy once a week as his only assistance. If I had let the schools just do their thing, he would have had to be in a strictly autistic class ... he wouldn't be speaking ... he wouldn't have progressed this far. He's on the scales now! It pained me to see that he is only considered average in some areas and below average in others BUT to see where he's come from ... from not even being ON the scale ... WOW.
# Chrissy 2011-11-05 22:02
My point in all of this?? Push, push, push for an evaluation. The sooner your son gets the help he needs, the better. AND don't let up. Do more and help him outside of school too. I've been subbing in the school system (somewhat ironically in the autism class) and I've seen first hand how over-worked those specialists are. EVERY SINGLE ONE. They are working incredibly hard but there are too many kids and too many things to do to really give these kids ALL the help they need.

(It also helps me to know that your husband has overcome a learning disability to become a doctor!! I know my son has so much potential. I KNOW he is smart!! I know these tests just aren't capturing that yet.)

Just keep pushing, Pauline!
# Lucia Paul 2011-11-06 21:24
I didn't read through all comments, so forgive me if this is addressed already. I remember last year that you did apply to private school (Harry Potter lunch room?). What happened with that process? My input is that maybe he needs the right private school, and that might not be a "regular" country day school. Maybe a specific "special learning" one? As a private school mom, I would say that it is a great fit for a really academic kid or a super athlete but not necessarily for a child who needs extra help. But that said, the right kind of private school would give you/him a lot of checks and balances and opportunities for success. Not knowing the specifics, I would say you might want to steer clear of the old school private schools (if that makes sense). But there are so many very specialized schools out there (especially in an area like Cleveland) that if you can let go of the dream of the prestigious ones, you might find the right one. Good luck. You are a Mom that clearly wants to right by all your kids. You will prevail on this one too!
# Laurie 2011-11-07 10:33
I just wanted to chime in - in our county, testing is done at the school board, through the county, not at each individual school. The county does the assessments, and then sends you to the school with the results and the initial IEP. Have you called your local school board? That might be an avenue if you are getting no traction at the school. I do hope you keep pushing and fighting. I know you will and I know it will work out. Best of luck!
# dziadek 2011-11-07 18:47
100 lat pomyslnosci ,Paulinko, na 100 komentaz
# Sarah 2011-11-10 08:29
Thank you so much for posting this. I am in a similar situation, we get the IEP on Monday. Our son has also been left behind, and we're really struggling with the system that is the school district to get him the help that he needs.

My thoughts and feelings echo yours, thanks so much for helping me feel less along in all of this.
# Al_Pal 2011-11-26 03:52
Oof and best wishes, glad you got a diagnosis and help on the way.
I was both a gifted student, and at times a failing student.

A good friend of mine has an autistic son, and she said that experiencing that taught her to let go of illusions of being in control--nothing you can do to change it, just do your best to make sure the child gets help from the school system!


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Pauline Karwowski.

Is a self proclaimed globe trotting, minivan driving, SAHM stiletto ho.

Happily married mother to 3 Cleveland natives: Jay the son, Lola the daughter, and Fifi the banshee.

Now in Chicago, IL.

The content on this blog is the opinion of the blogger.


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