About half an hour after I wrote that last post, I wrote more, because I still had lots to say about how I was feeling.
(Hello, have you met me? I process my thoughts by writing them down.)
If you want to know what happened at my meeting with the school, skip to the end. If for some reason following the inner workings of my psyche is not fascinating to you. I don’t know why it wouldn’t be. It’s an endless source of entertainment for me.
If you met him, you’d say Dash was a great kid. He’s not a bundle of neuroses or a group of symptoms. He’s a fun, polite, active, well-behaved, loud, annoying, thoughtful, responsible, curious, hilarious, infuriating eight-year-old boy, just as pretty much all eight-year-old boys are, probably. I don’t know, I only have this one. I like this one that I have.
He just happens to be quirky, and two of the quirkiest things about him are the way he eats very few foods and isn’t great at reading.
My next thoughts swirl, maelstromy.
1. If I had left Ireland more recently I would be concerned about not taking steps that wouldn’t be taken in Ireland, because those would be American-type steps, probably over-hyping, over-diagnosing, finding problems where there are none, trying to fix things that were not broken.
2. I’ve been here in the US, and a parent here, for long enough that that isn’t happening. Also, I got through all that, mentally, for myself, last year when we started on the road to vision therapy. That was like diagnosis lite.
3. Nonetheless, there is an element of feeling USA privilege here. It’s like white privilege, which it is too, except that it affects everyone who can afford health insurance and has access to the US health system. Which while not remotely perfect, gives us a lot more opportunities than we would have in Ireland or in many other parts of the world.
4. I don’t fear labels. Labels are good because they help people come together and get the things they need. In our case, we need Dash to be put in the right class next year so that he’s challenged but not struggling. If we need to find a label, some sort of diagnosis, to help the school do that, then that’s what we want to do. If the school can find the right place for him without a label, then we don’t even need to go down that route.
5. Unless the reading + the eating + things I’m not even noticing because they’re just Dash = Something Together that the school wouldn’t even consider thinking of (because the eating part isn’t relevant to them). And if that Something, whatever, contributed to a label that would help, then we should try to find out about it. Because that might better enable school to do what we need them to.
6. Or is he just a slow reader and a fussy eater?
7. I wouldn’t care, except that he’s starting to notice. He knows he’s in the wrong class this year. He’s getting teased for being the smartest in class, which he wouldn’t be if he was in the right class. But then he’d be the slowest reader and maybe get teased for that. He’s worried about what he’ll eat when we go places.
8. That’s a lie. I want him to love reading the way I love reading. I want him to crack a book and get lost in it. I want him to discover Harry Potter on his own. I want him to read the damn cereal box instead of asking me why there’s a picture of Spider-Man on it.
Cut to the chase, Maud.
The meeting with school went really well. I went in saying, “I don’t know if I need to convince you that he’s really smart or really slow,” and they all said “Well, we know he’s really smart,” so that made it much easier. I talked about the way his reading is slow but he’s smart in all the other respects (sheesh, it would be so much easier to just have him sit down and read a paragraph for them, but I suppose then they’d say he might have been nervous or something; his actual teacher was not in the meeting because it was during class time).
And I gave them the “final report” from the vision therapy people, which I had called and asked for last week. I explained the situation and asked them to be sure not to say “Hooray, he’s totally cured and just like any other kid now!” So the report was a little more restrained in its declaration of his success, and included key phrases such as “may benefit from extra time to complete examinations and schoolwork” and “remaining concerns about reading speed and fluency”.
On foot of that, they said “Well, how about we give you a 504 for next year saying that he gets extra time for assignments and testing, would that work? And you can amend it if it’s not working out or we need to add more.” And I said “Yes please, that sounds ideal.” And then I stayed a bit longer and we got all the paperwork filled in and signed off and photocopied and now it’s in his file and all his teachers will know about it and be required to abide by it.
Easy as that. I was really impressed by the school’s responsiveness and willingness to work with me to find the best solution for Dash. Just like they’re meant to do.
So the urgency for figuring out other testing has waned a bit, at least until we have the food specialist meeting next week and see what they say. I was afraid the school would tell me they couldn’t do anything without some more official sort of diagnosis, but since that wasn’t the case, I’m happy to row back a bit for now.