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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Cars are different (and so are kids!)



I've been offline because I've been out of town having my youngest son tested at Atlanta Speech School's learning evaluation clinic. They are the best testing service that I am aware of and they have completely changed the lives of my extended family! (They have found things others did not!)

I come from a family of extremely gifted (the tests prove it) but almost all of us have significant learning challenges (most people would call them learning disabilities.)

My first cousin is almost a 100% auditory learner. It makes it difficult if she has to extract material from the written word, but she has learned how. If she takes notes during lecture, her learning actually goes down.

I, however, learn very little in an auditory fashion. I take prolific notes because I know that within moments I will forget what the person has said unless I write it down. I guess I've sort of accommodated myself in that way.

My son, sister, and now youngest son have processing challeges of varying types. I'm really too drained to talk about it right now.

If someone doesn't know a person who has a learning challenge (the world calls it Learning disability or LD), they cannot really understand what it is like. The misconception is that the person with this is somehow below average or "dumb." What they don't know is that a significant portion of gifted students are actually "wired differently" and have learning disabilities. (My sister is gifted certified and educates me about this.)

What it feels like to have your child "tested"


As a parent, you go through the whole gamut of emotions. What did I do wrong? What is wrong with me genetically? Why didn't I take my vitamins every day? Why was I so stressed out when I was pregnant? You name it, when you go through this, you question it.

I know so many parents who refuse to "test" their children because of their own pride. They want to say that it is OK for their child to make poor grades and deny the fact that their bright child is performing below their ability!

We all just want your child to be "normal" and not have difficulties if that is possible. But then, I ask myself, what really is normal?

What is a "normal" car?

We have so many cars on the road and offroad and they are all made for a different purpose. A Landrover is perfect for the African outback but doesn't really do well in Japan, where the roads are more narrow. You wouldn't drag race a Landrover but instead a dragster. SUV's do not get good fuel economy for that you might look at a hybrid vehicle. Compact cars don't do well when you have seven kids to haul around.

The point is that we do not expect one car to fit every task that a car can do... they are simply made for different purposes.

Children are made for different purposes!

So are children! I believe in a Creator that makes each of us for a different purpose. We are simply wired for a different purpose.

My sister with a diagnosed weakness in short term memory actually has learned to accommodate herself and has a stronger short term memory than almost anyone! My cousin with the reading disabilities has acute auditory ABILITIES. She can hear a song twice and memorize it. She is going into the recording industry and has amazing memory and abilities with music and audio. It is absolutely incredible what she can do and the sounds she can hear. She is wired to work with music.

My son went from struggling in third grade and is a strong A student in sixth grade. He has excellent study skills and works on organization. It is a struggle but he is learning independence and a work ethic that will benefit him through life.

The disservice of not testing!

The disservice would have been if we hadn't taken the steps to get the best testing available. My youngest son would have assuredly been diagnosed with ADHD (the psychologist said so), however, we determined that his agitation was in direct response to his difficulty with language processing. He has a language processing disability but amazing visual Ability!

In Conclusion

I'll share more later when I'm not so exhausted. Today, I just want to convey to those in the classroom to understand that every child is different. Do not expect every child to be the same! They are made for different purposes. If a child has a behavioral problem, it is often a signal of something more!

If you are a parent, go with your gut. If you think that there is something "there" then there is! Do not think your child is obstinant and hard headed (as I did with my firstborn), they may instead have a learning disability and you are punishing them for what is not their fault!

This world is full of beautiful, wonderful children. They are made to be musicians, doctors, authors, artists, teachers, scholars and more! We can't all be great at everything because then we wouldn't be human!

We have a lot of work to do, for indeed diagnosis is just the beginning but it is the beginning of something great! It is the beginning of a story of someone who overcame to reach their full potential and beyond.

For indeed, it is the stories of the underdog.. the person who overcame much to become much that we love. The easy road earns no respect. And although we'd love to tread the easy road, it is one that is not my path. When we tread the difficult road, it is often that we are using our machete to cut a path for those to walk behind us a little more easily.

I shall not give up. I will sacrifice anything. I will do anything to reach both my children who are Learning Challenged and those children in my classroom who are wired differently than that we expect in an academic environment.

Indeed, this life is about overcoming. Those are the stories we remember! And it is my path to trod. If it is yours, pick up the torch and do not quit and consider that yours will be the story worth retelling as you overcome much to be much!

Keep the faith!

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