Never Good Enough
Many years ago as Dylan’s kindergarten year was coming to an end his teacher told me his wasn’t reading as well as his classmates. I was surprised to hear this because all year long I’d had the impression that he was having a good year. I wasn’t dissatisfied or disappointed at all with his reading ability for a kindergartener. He was learning the beginning sounds and could recognize all the numbers and letters so I was happy and wasn’t the least bit worried. I mean, after all this was kindergarten and he was just six years old. She also said that maybe he wasn’t reading so well because he might have ADHD. She said that I needed to read a book, The Hyperactive Child, and I could do that at a local doctor’s office in our community. This doctor operated an ADHD clinic and was an expert on ADHD because he had it himself. The teacher then recommended that Dylan get some tutoring during summer vacation to improve his reading skills. My initial reaction was: “Tutoring for a kindergartener…!!! You’ve got to be kidding.” But I trusted the teacher’s judgment and Dylan went to a tutor for just two sessions. The tutor seemed to think that his reading skills were “good enough.” And that was “good enough” for me.
Dylan then began first grade and after about six weeks into the school year the phone calls began. The teacher called several times to tell me that Dylan was having a hard time in class. She’d say that Dylan wasn’t working to his potential and once again I heard he wasn’t reading as well as his classmates. At one of the meetings the teacher said that at the rate he was going he’d probably never make it into college. She said Dylan should be tested by the school psychologist. So he was tested at the end of the year and because of his low scores he qualified for a “Special Ed” reading class where a more hands-on approach was used. Since Dylan really enjoyed doing things with his hands like playing with legos, play dough and drawing I thought this would be a good match. Dylan was very much a “kinesthetic learner” and so I thought he’d make good progress.
Dylan thrived in the “special ed” reading class that was only in the mornings and incorporated hands-on activities into learning how to read. This was a good match for his learning style. He went to the regular classroom in the afternoons and was very lucky to have a teacher who was tolerant of different styles and rates of learning. This teacher never called me to say that Dylan was distractible or disorganized. All in all Dylan had a good year. Finally.
On to third grade… Once again after about six weeks into the new school year his teacher called to tell me that Dylan just wasn’t performing as well as his classmates. She told me that Dylan wasn’t finishing his work on time, that he couldn’t or wouldn’t sit still and that he couldn’t get organized. We met several times after school and at these meetings while I sat and listened patiently she told me what Dylan couldn’t or wouldn’t do. I would think, “Get with the program Dylan.” She suggested that Dylan might have ADHD and should have him evaluated by a doctor. She gave me a pamphlet about ADHD and learning disabilities. The pamphlet described that the medicines used to treat ADHD didn’t drug or alter the brain of the child and that they made the child “normal” by correcting for a neurochemical imbalance. Since I trusted the teacher’s judgment I followed her advice and made an appointment. I took him to his pediatrician who did a thorough evaluation but she concluded that Dylan was not a candidate for medication. Now my worry was at an all time high.