Support helps more than gossip

Dear Fellow Parents,

My son is having a rough school year - and many days he's disruptive in class. We know about it. We're working on it.  We feel terrible for him, his teachers and for you.  And hearing about people talking about him doesn't help your child, my child or our community.

His challenges started in the middle of last year when youthful silliness and energy escalated into troublemaking and obstinance. Interestingly, this only occurred at school.  At home and in after school activities, he was still just silly and energetic at times. Together with the school, we tried to figure out what was happening that was triggering this response. Suffice to say, we tried lots of accomodations, but never understood the cause.

This year, school started well, but within 2-3 weeks, we were back in the land of disruption. And I know you are paying a lot for your child's education and perhaps you'd prefer that my child be asked to leave the school. Thankfully, our school decided two years ago that we valued inclusivity and that we wanted to figure out how to teach every child unless the staff really felt we couldn't.  And when you are thinking it would be better if he wasn't there, ask your child who helped them with math, sat with them at lunch, offered to play.  Guess who?  

Children learn differently and mature at very varied rates.  And when a young child is acting out, there is a root cause and it's not the desire to mess with your child or the teacher.  It's a cry for help.  And parents like me spend virtually all our psychic energy trying to figure out what he needs.

Here's my guess - he has a lot of trouble printing.  It's slow, sloppy and frustrating.  And by the middle of second grade, it's one of the primary ways a student demonstrates what he knows to his teacher and class. My son has command of the content and concepts, but cannot communicate it in writing.  Talk about frustrating.  And all last year, we worked on improving his handwriting - so yes, we were aware and acting on the problem.

Then we started with talk therapy, but that didn't make an impact. Now we are going down the path of extensive testing so that we understand exactly how he thinks, rule out any behavioral disorders and identify the issues that are making block print writing a huge source of frustration for him.  It takes time for the various professionals to collect, analyze and report on their data.  In the meantime, we've got him doing a novel form of therapy where the therapist uses touch to help calm the mind - and teaches him how to self-soothe. And we've sent our au pair to school to observe, help the teacher and be his scribe so that he can fully participate in class without a moment's frustration about his speed, quality or presentation of writing.

Good news - we're up to 7 good days in a row. Seems promising. Hope you think so too.

Our hope is that the data will give the professionals the information needed to guide the school on how to teach our son - and those accomodations will also help your child since variety in teaching styles benefits all the students. 

So, instead of gossiping about what a problem my son, or anyone else's child is, put yourself in our shoes. It's really embarassing when your child is misbehaving. It's really frustrating when they struggle and you cannot figure out what will help. Try to imagine, for a moment, that a thoughtful, proactive parent like yourself could face a situation where you are not in control and your child is struggling.  What would you want from the other parents?  Patience.  Sympathy. Empathy. Understanding.  Not judgement.