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Monday, March 23, 2009

My Genius

I have been very excited with Scott's academic progress. I'm learning the length of his attention span and time-of -day and situations I can get him to concentrate the best and we are getting into the flow of his new lessons (We are at Barton level 3, lesson 2, procedure f.). Once I have his full attention, he comprehends and moves forward quickly. I can see decoding words is hard work for him. I try to remind myself that even though these lessons seem basic to me, in his world the effort to read is comparable maybe to the difficulty level of me comprehending the board review material.

I got my accommodations request in to the Hebrew School to make it official that Scott not be asked to read out loud. He is not to be graded on worksheets and I request that his knowledge be tested orally or by demonstration. The principal agrees and confirms his teachers are aware of this.

All-in-all Scott seems like he is accepting of all this official change. He compares himself to Einstein and is quite convinced that he is going to make a genius contribution to the world.

I'm doing a lot of reading out loud to Scott to keep up with his comprehension skills, vocabulary, and other Language Art skills, which are outstanding, and I really enjoy reading the stories to him. Friday night I brought home a book from the library. I debated whether I should read it to him or just for myself. In My Name is Brain Brian, Brian’s new 6th grade teacher recognizes how smart Brian is and recognizes his learning difference and gets him the help he needs. I read quite a bit into it and decided I would read it to Scott. Brian is a Brown Belt in Karate just like Scott. He is the middle child with a little brother. His parents have the same fights as me and John (is that TMI?). Brian is part of an unofficial boys group reminding me of one of Scott’s favorite movies, Sand Lot (except the group in the book is on the verge of delinquency and with Brian's understanding of himself, removes himself). The book is from Brian's perspective. Brian thinks like Scott. For example Brian is preoccupied thinking about what it would be like to be a Canadian goose flying in a pack migrating. Scott has a similar thought pattern. 2D me would never think of anything like that.

Scott is held quite captive. We read it in one sitting. I mostly replaced reading "dyslexia" with "dimensional learner" until the end (I was not sure how sobering the medical word would be.). Several times I asked Scott if he wanted a break or should I go back to reading the Einstein bio or Little House. He urged me on. Scott recommends this book and he is really hoping John will read it too.

I had to fight tears while I was reading it as I was happy for Brian's successes and happy for his teacher who overcame his own dyslexia. Brian also learns he has inherited dyslexia from his grandfather and father, both successful architects, who never had a name for their reading difficulty (and never had to overcome it in the world they grew up in). I couldn't hold my tears back when Brain talks about how dyslexia is a lifelong issue that he will always have to struggle with. I guess it is my maternal heart wanting a perfect world for my child. As usual Scott had a lot of intelligent questions to ask me about the book and our family (ei, does David have it? and btw-- that's a GOOD question, I don't want to deal with that question, now. I don't know if I am ready to deal with two Einstein sons.). I could feel his exponential-type learning happening as he was considering his thoughts and asking questions.

My mind was racing with thoughts and emotions, too, after reading. You know how that goes, especially when it's late and beyond bedtime. When Scott's head hit the pillow his emotional side came out. He was filled with such a broken little spirit. "Why am I so smart and have trouble reading? I just want to read. Will I ever be able to read? How come you didn't teach me to read before (crush my heart, anyone ready for Kleenex?). How'd you find out? I hate presents about learning to read. I hate everyone thinking I want books. Well, I do want books, but it's like it reminds me they think I am a stupid." It really showed me how much all this mattered to him. My maternal heart was bleeding. The scholastic side of dyslexia remedial work is one thing, but the emotions are huge for both of us. It’s probably very important to allow him to get his feelings out. I just want to fix it for him. I reassured him I will teach him how to read, but I wasn't sure it will ever come easy to him. I just don't know. I want to hug him all night. Its times like this, I’m glad my children know they can sleep with me.

He woke up and seemed to be fine all day. Then at night we hit the pillow. It was quiet and just us. Take-two of last night. I reassured him I'd do what I can to help him along. I reassured him I had all the paper work with his accommodations in at the Temple and his teachers accepted it.

I pick him up from Temple today and guess what... he had a substitute teacher WHO MAKES EVERYONE in her class have a turn to read out loud. He said she picked him five times. If it wasn't five times, I am sure it felt like it was. Since Scott's only successful reading has been in his new curriculum and in Green Eggs and Ham I can't imagine WHY a teacher would call on him 5x. Scott says 2 girls were trying to be helpful and backed him up saying Mrs. A. doesn't make him read. Sub would have none of that. He said a boy was trying to take over and read the book faster than him. He didn't appreciate it.

I can't be with him to protect him all the time. I can't see why a Sub who does already know us can't just step back just a little and get all the facts. It was so important, he read in the short time she would have him? I've always debated whether this Hebrew School is good for my boys. I’ve always hoped the benefits out way the differences. This year I have resolved several of *my* issues. Actually I thought they were all resolved, only to find new ones. What makes it sadder is this Sub is up to be his teacher next year. Even if with time she understands and is sorry for her error, what a bad first impression. Let me tell you what Scott says about Hebrew School overall. He likes his friends this year and it is the best year. He says the information is very repetitive. All they learn is the same Holidays each year. William agrees that it’s very repetitive.

Scott has had some deep rooted spiritual convictions and presents lecture-styled conversations to me. He has been to Mass and Church. He remembers everything that is said. He likes to reconcile the different beliefs in his mind with what he is learning in Science. In our homeschool I have also taught him why it’s relevant for us to know what Creation Science is. When I think of religious school, I think a boy like Scott would want to keep going with this information. In all the years I’ve been there, these topics don’t come up, ever. Scott concludes the teachers don’t know about these topics. He's probably right. He is bored. This digression gives you more examples of what Scott is capable of comprehending, but the opportunity doesn’t exist for him to be properly challenged in school like settings. (That is why we homeschool!) Can you imagine him thinking and wanting to analyze our origins and he gets stuck with another word search puzzle-- circle Eve, apple, snake, etc... not very stimulating.

Back to the issue… I ask Scott what I can do to help him. I ask him if I should give his Sub a copy of his accommodations. It may not necessarily help him, but she could be made aware that he is not lazy. Not to be mean or anything, I am pretty certain, I can come up with a "nice" cover letter that she will never forget. I told Scott what I would say. Probably something to the effect that Scott is a smart and eager and co-operative student with a different reading style. At the current time, I have requested that he does no outside reading or worksheets that are not apart from his Language Arts curriculum that is not controlled for the same vocabulary because I want to break the guessing habit unless he volunteers. Outside reading can be humiliating and disruptive to my progress with him. (He liked that a lot.) Let her know I officially have it on record with the principle and provide this Sub with her own referenced copy. I'd like to say so much more about why she couldn’t just chill. I am aware that that this Sub didn’t have access to Scott’s file beforehand (not everything can be anticipated), but it doesn’t excuse her from being so domineering and insistent AND 5x!

Interestingly this week, I did anticipate a Sub in Scott’s future. I asked the boys this week should he get into a position, put on the spot to read, like this is there anything he could say to save face. We couldn’t come up with anything.

Scott’s peacefully asleep now for the night. I was reading his Einstein bio to him. From an Einstein lecture “It is the supreme art of a teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

I love being Scott’s teacher. I have no doubt that Scott's powerful thoughts will be influencial.

And I have one question right now, Anyone familiar with Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic? I am wondering how useful this resource might be?


Tammie said...

You are amazing! I love that you have helped Scott to see he doesn't really have a disability it's just different and many Geniuses had those same differences. I have no doubt he is a Genius in his own rite!

ScienceGeek said...

First off, from what I know, you have to have an official diagnosis of dyslexia in order to use the recordings for the blind and the dyslexic. Other families in the yahoo dyslexia groups think this service is awesome for exposing their dyslexic children to the vast array of knowledge available beyond their reading level. An official diagnosis can be as simple as a doctor's diagnosis-it would be up to you to get one.

I'm so sorry you and Scott are having such a rough time. I know on the one hand, you're both thrilled to have discovered the tools to help him to learn to read. But, then there's the guilt of not finding it sooner, and wondering "what if" you'd taught him this way from the beginning...I've dealt with the same guilt. But I can't change the past, and can only move forward. My son has had similar "meltdowns", and has wondered why he has dyslexia (and his younger brother doesn't). He has such a thirst for knowledge, and is desperate to learn to read. It's heartbreaking to watch your child grapple with such unfair struggles. I have faith it will get better for both of our sons.

We have a dyslexic in our family other than my son, and I can tell you that it does still plague him as an adult. He still has trouble spelling and is a slow reader. However, he was not taught to read/spell with an O-G system. So, our kids may not have problems as adults. I think you'll see as Scott progresses that the skills our sons learn in Barton really stick and take them far in a short amount of time. In fact, when I asked Susan Barton about having my son tested for accomodations for taking the SAT or entering high school, she said that by retraining his brain now, he may not even need accomodations as a teenager/young adult. The brain is malleable, and the work we are doing now WILL change our sons' brains so that reading and spelling will become easier.

Again, I feel your heartbreak, and I'm sorry you're both going through this rough time. Believe me that it will get better!

Lauren said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series about Scott. He would be totally lost in the public school system and he's lucky to have such a resourceful mother as a teacher.

Blend said...

Nice post, very interesting and resourceful...He was lucky he got a resourceful mother, many are not.

The Cooking Lady said...

Even if she did not have access to his file there should be some sort of note on her desk that most subs could get to Johnny on the spot.

He should not have had to go through that what so ever.

Permission to Mother said...

I'm amazed that anyone read all the way through my tedious post. Thank you.

Hey, Lauren. I wonder if you would be lost in school again. It seems like maternity leave was "dangerous" being that you have probably been exposed to so many different educational approaches.

Lauren said...

I was told that becoming a mother would make me a better teacher. I believe that to be true, having picked up a thing or two from LLL, AP & your blog.

However, I don't know that I would be able to handle the workload and have time for my family. I worked until 6:20 p.m. almost every night and STILL had lots of work to do at home. Where would Ruby fit into all that?

I always thought homeschooling was a great option, just didn't know much about it.

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