|Boys' Summer Handbook: When bored, start a fight. Hand-to-hand combat is great, but almost anything can be turned into a weapon. For instance, see towels in the above photo.|
Our kids have attended three different schools because of family moves. Up to this point, we haven’t really had any conflicts with our schools about accommodations for our kids. I feel like we’ve dealt with people who really loved our kids despite their sometimes difficult behaviors. I feel like people have tried to help our kids deal with their shortcomings and offered support. But our present school has been a struggle. It’s hard to know who’s driving decisions--principals, other administrators, teachers, other parents--but from what I can tell, the principal does not want Luke at her school. It’s a great school for many reasons: test scores, extra activities, tons of parent involvement, but it is a little too perfectly, perfect, and they don’t seem to have room for coloring outside the lines.
We survived last year at this school because Luke’s teacher was so patient and kind. He did have some meltdowns and a suspension or two (I lose track!). But his teacher was so positive and helpful. The special ed teacher was awesome last year too. This year his teacher wanted him to do things her way, and she did not take kindly to when Luke resisted. She didn’t really seem to accept that he was struggling with his own difficulties, but saw it as a struggle against her. I guess I don’t know really what was going on in her mind, but she seemed to see her relationship with Luke as a battle of wills.
I’ve talked about this before, but Luke’s intelligence plays against him sometimes. Academically, he is so smart that teachers and administrators can’t or don’t believe he has social, organizational, and focus difficulties. I told his teacher at the beginning of the year that it is difficult to not take his disobedience or rebuffs personally. He’s smart. He knows what he’s doing, so it seems he must be doing it with malice. But he’s not. He’s impulsive, he’s slow on emotional control, he’s easily frustrated. When he’s done something wrong, in hindsight, he knows it’s wrong, but that doesn’t stop him from doing it at the moment. His teacher and principal dislike him and don’t have a disability mindset. That can’t see the struggles he goes through. They just think he’s naughty. Insolent. A pain in the butt. Extra work. They don’t have time for him. They want to move him to a “learning center,” which is the district’s euphemism for a behavioral unit. I don’t have anything against behavioral units, but they are usually reserved for kids whose disabilities are much more severe than Luke’s.
This year Luke got an in-school suspension for tearing up a leaf and saying, “This is what I would do to Jill’s* head if I could.” A mean, naughty, threatening thing to say. It makes me sad to hear that he says things like that. No mom wants their kid to say things like that. But to get suspended for it? No other student in the school would be suspended for that, and how is that accommodating for his poor emotional control if they suspend him for stuff like that? It’s comparable to punishing a child with dyslexia for making a spelling mistake. And now that I’m getting in to my rant mode a little, let me just add that he gets picked on and talked down to and bossed around and treated like he’s intellectually disabled much of the time. The principal’s solution is to tell everyone to keep away from him. Kids have told him that they’re “not allowed to play with him.”
On the other hand, the very fabulous, accepting, smart, kind, and all-round amazing school psychologist, has tried to counteract some of these very uncreative solutions. She went in to the classroom and taught the kids social skills and how to interact with one another. She’s trying to help them understand one another, and that they all have weaknesses—some people’s are just a little more obvious (wink). We need to help all kids fit in and get along with various types of people NOT ostracize them. That’s an appeal to the heart, but the appeal to the mind is just as strong. Our families and communities are only as happy, healthy, and thriving as each individual is.
I got a little ranty there. But we did find some solutions and are making some progress in making life better for Luke and our family. More to come.
*Names have been changed.