posted by Jeff | Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 10:45 PM | comments: 0

We got word today that Simon will be back on an individual education plan (IEP), which is a relief going into third grade, when he'll have to start taking standardized tests. Mind you, this means they'll probably have to spend time teaching him how to take tests instead of learning useful things, but I'm glad he'll get the extra help. Thanks to Diana's diligence in this process, he's been pretty well evaluated, and there are countless acronyms associated with him now. It's days like this I'm ready for him to just have the simple designations of "Simon" and "my child."

Simon's situation is definitely complex, because academically he's ahead in some ways, behind in others, but not horribly so. He's clearly very intelligent, but does not learn the same way as others. The ADHD makes that more complicated, too. I was impressed by the school staff, because they do get it and I think they have good ideas about how to navigate the challenges (and his teacher this year has been great). I don't think he would have met the criteria for the extra help though were it not for an outside diagnosis from doctors for the ADHD and ASD. Amphetamines don't make blank lines on a page any easier to fill with thoughts for him. The IEP acknowledges the risk going forward that he may begin to slip without intervention in areas around curriculum and learning environment, specifically around reading comprehension and language skills, as well as social skills. Imagine that you could absorb reading something, but get so fixated on the fact that you can't articulate the answer to a question, so you get stuck on it and can't move to the next one. That's the category of things he struggles with. It's hard to believe when the kid can tell you what exit number to get off on the freeway after going somewhere once.

My personal challenge in this is that I get so impatient with him. I feel like I'm getting better at it, but that fixation problem carries over into everyday life. When you ask him to do something, he will immediately challenge it, not to be a dick (well, maybe sometimes, because he is 8), but because he can't reconcile the direction with an underlying reason. Not being able to ask questions or allowed to disagree just grinds his gears until he can't roll anymore. This is, as you might expect, exhausting for me. When it's something simple, like asking him to not wear pajama pants to bed because they're all in the laundry, and he protests, it's frustrating, but when it's direction around something that could be a safety issue, like walking down the next street instead of ours because of construction traffic, his opposition is terrifying and frustrating.

Beyond all of these challenges though, I just want the kid to have a happy childhood. Socially, he's sometimes "the weird kid," which I can spot from a mile away because I was that kid. He sometimes struggles with some of the neighborhood kids, because kids can be dicks, but I want him to navigate those waters and advocate for himself. I want him to have fun though, too, and I'm thankful that some of the kids also look out for him.

Simon is a good kid, and we're fortunate that he's intelligent, even if he can't always articulate things, verbally or on paper. He can be funny sometimes too, even if he is incapable of sarcasm. The window for him to get the right help, from us and his teachers, feels so small when he'll be in middle school in three years. I'm cautiously optimistic though.


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