As I mentioned in my previous blog, it was in third grade when my son started falling behind in school. It is also when he started to have some unusual movements and vocalizations, which may have been Tourette Syndrome or Non-epileptic seizures.
After the school year for third grade was done, I got my son a tutor, which was his second grade teacher who he truly loved. She worked with him on reading and actually got him advanced up two levels on leveled books. Keep in mind I paid to have this tutor, which we did two summers in a row.
For fourth grade the school put my son into Special Education for both reading, language, and math. The remaining classes were in his mainstream class. After about two months the special education teacher wanted to meet with me. In this meeting, which also included the Principal and the school social worker, their big complaint was that my son was having too many tics. My reaction was “And so?” We had been doing everything we could medically. We had tried medications with no success. My son was also seeing a neuropsychologist every three weeks.
The second complaint was that my son needed guidance from the teacher in order to do his work. Hello! He’s in Special Education! Isn’t that one of the principles of Special Education. She also said that if she gave direction involving three different things. He would follow through on one of them and then stop. He could not remember the remaining two things. She also complained that he could have gotten clues by looking around at the other five children in the room, because they were all doing the same thing. Instead he would just sit there doing nothing.
I wasn’t surprised by any of this. This was no different from what we experienced at home. Over the years we learned to compensate for this without even knowing we were doing it. We only gave him instructions one at a time. There were somethings that we just didn’t ask him to do, because it would take too long, especially on busy mornings as he got ready to go to school.
Finally in this meeting the school suggested that we shift my son to a new room that had fewer children in it and could get more attention from the teacher. The odd thing was the teacher was actually the social worker in the school. She had no background in teaching special education. This decision turned into a big disaster. My son was then stuck with this woman through fifth grade. We talked about teaching him “touch math,” which they only did for a couple of weeks and then went back to the one minute timed drills. End result more tics.
The biggest problem with her was the fact that she punished him for having tics. She gave him no privacy when he was having a bout of tics. She expected him to be able to continue working as he was having the extreme movement tics and vocalizations. Probably the most debilitating aspect of her teaching method was that she had no empathy for his circumstance.
Toward the middle of third grade I read in the school newsletter that they were going to offer reading tutoring for kids and it indicated we would be getting additional information about this in the near future. I was really excited about this because my son needed the help. At the time he was almost two grades behind in reading. So I waited for the second communication. I waited, and waited. Finally I reached out to the principal. He responded that the program was done and was limited to a select number of kids. I was furious. He admitted this was an attempt at increasing their test scores for reading. The only students that got tutored were students who were on the border of being behind in their grade.
My response to him was he had better watch out, because he is going to get sued. Here I had been paying for a tutor which was an expenditure I could not really afford. I was obvious my son needed help. I told the principal that he was discriminating against my son. I could tell he was not prepared for this reaction from me. In the next year they had this tutoring program again and my son was invited. Now I don’t know if he got his equal fair share of tutoring, but he wasn’t excluded.
Continued. . .