Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Report Card Aftermath

Steven and I are very happy with the progress Jonas is making in school. He's been working very hard and, generally, has kept a very positive attitude. It's scary to think that he might get lost in the system at age 7, and it's been challenging to figure out how to navigate forward. We are extremely grately to be blessed with knowledgable and experienced people in our lives. They have provided amazing support and guidance and I give thanks to them every day.

Last week was report card time and this weekend we started experiencing the unexpected aftermath of that.  He received a few congratulatory voice and e-mails from loving friends and relatives, congratulating him on his success. He was very proud of himself, as he should be, until a couple of these messages had the opposite effect they were intended to.

Some people just haven't seen the light about his ADHD. They think it's a stupid label, intended to be an excuse for holding him back or for not pushing him harder. Though the reality is quite different, some people just can't accept this. They couldn't resist taking a dig at the ADHD diagnosis, not realizing that he'd interpret these as digs at him.

The report card had mixed results. He received mostly Cs, a couple of Bs, an A, and a few Ds. Some people think that telling him to work harder or smarter is the answer. They said "See. I told you. This ADHD thing is a crock! Look what you can do if you just try!" Though I'm sure they were well-meaning, he knows how hard he's trying, so what he heard was "See. You must not be smart enough for those other things."

As a consequence, while writing out number sequences last night, he started sobbing, callling himself dumb and smacking himself in the head. When I tried to console him, he said "When you help me read the question, I can figure out what order they go in but I can't write the numbers properly. I keep making dumb mistakes and I can't even write as good as a kid in kindergarten!" It broke my heart.

What the naysayers don't see is how hard he struggles for the Ds in language, reading and fine motor skills. He struggles with fundamental learning skills like reading, printing and speaking. It's difficult and discouraging for him, especially when he has to deal with those things while trying to learn science, math and social studies. Having to read or write brings him to tears. Thankfully, the school has made adjustments for those challenges in his other subjects, so that he doesn't fall behind in those too.

It's not a matter of him working harder or smarter. It's about us figuring out different ways to teach and encourage him, and it's about him having the patience to keep trying until he gets it. We're making a big deal about how proud we are of him for working so hard. We tell him that we and his teacher are proud of his effort and his behaviour, and we remind him that these are the most important things - even more important that his marks. We're also going to start screening his calls. ;)


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