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Friday, May 11, 2007

The Essay that Rocked my world: The Personal side of LD

a simulpost with TechLearning

Yesterday at the Rotary Club I sat there with tears in my eyes listening to my sixth grader win an essay contest. Only I and a few others knew that only three years earlier he could barely compose a legible paragraph.

It was third grade and my son suddenly went from a high achieving, well behaved child to one who was struggling emotionally and mentally with the tasks at hand. I knew something was wrong. Children don't just change behavior like that. I have a sister with a learning challenge (we don't call them disabilities in our family) and knew that he was coming up against something that he could not overcome.

The public school said his test scores were too high for them to test so we eliminated our family vacation between his third and fourth grade year and went to the incredible icon of testing in our area, the Atlanta Speech School.

While I won't go into all of the details, I'll generalize that a non-verbal processing issue was overflowing into his handwriting which made it illegible when he had to work on challenging tasks (with too much processing going on.) Additionally, grammar and spelling were diagnosed areas of issue and unless it was a grammar assignment he was not to be counted off for punctuation and spelling. (A battle which is a hard one to fight.)

We were told that it was imperative that he learn to type and use a computer for spelling and grammar as soon as possible.

We had him ready and responsible and purchased him a laptop halfway through his fifth grade year. In my role at the school, we worked to raise the money and put in wireless to cover our school. Now, he is able to type all written assignments and spell check.

The bright, intelligent child who shines in so many areas, can now write beautifully. I am so very proud of him because I know that I did not write the following essay, HE DID!

So, today, I will share with you today the power of what happens when you accommodate and use technology to help children. And to challenge you to realize that gifted children have LD too. We all have learning differences. These learning differences must be understood and accommodated!

And if you are a parent, do whatever it takes to find out how your child learns. Sacrifice, give up family vacations and never, ever give up!

This was the winning essay from our Middle School for the Rotary Club Character Counts Essay contest from my sixth grade son:

Why Character Counts

Honesty, perseverance, and responsibility are character traits that the community, the business world, and the whole world need more. There are many definitions for honesty. Not lying, cheating, nor stealing are examples of honesty. Being fair and upright are also part of being honest. If all the people in the world were honest, there would be no fighting, no wars, no crimes, and no lying. Give other people credit, don't take more than your fair share, and don't lie are only some of the many things honesty can teach us.

Perseverance, not giving up when times are hard, is another part of having good character. Never, ever stop until the job is done. It is like when my grandma tells me the story of the frog and the butter churn. He fell in and had to keep kicking until there was enough butter to stand on so he could jump out. He almost quit and drowned, but no, he kept on kicking, and he lived. If the world had perseverance, there would be no divorce, no suicide, and no quitters.

Responsibility is accepting the blame for our own actions...not blaming others for our own faults. We are all human, and we all have flaws, but we need to still take responsibility for our mistakes.

When I think of these three traits, I think of my Poppa who is a farmer. Poppa is honest, and when he tells people something, they believe him because he has never lied to them before. He perseveres as a farmer when it doesn't rain or when there is too much rain. He never quits, and people around the world know he's a great farmer. Poppa has to be responsible to make sure he properly disposes of waste on the farm like the dead chickens so that the environment stays safe. I use him as my living example of good character and someone who is honest, perseveres, and is responsible.

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