Josh's Journey
Second Grade: “Why is everybody at school better than me at everything?”

So let’s stop here, just for a second, and reflect on what all ‘this’ might do to one’s self esteem and self worth. Josh starts second grade, three grade levels behind his peers yet he has an average IQ. He’s no dummy. In fact he’s smart. He feels like crap. Heart breaking things I have started to hear: “Why is everybody at school better than me at everything?”, “Why do I have to have this brain?”, “I hate school”, “Everybody at school is mean to me”.

Ok, so what about getting Josh into Special Ed-

Although testing was complete in March 2008 Josh is not found eligible for special education until November 2008, half way through  the school year (let’s just waste more time and let him get further behind).

SURPRISE! Josh is determined to be specific learning disability eligible, yeah I have only been trying to tell the school district this for how many years! So now I am thinking “ok, we had a false start but now the ball is really rolling!” … yeah right (ok ‘yeah right’ is not what I was thinking at the time but it should have been).

So here are the summary notes from an IEP meeting March 2009. At this point Josh has been in special ed for 4 months.

"No improvement in reading comprehension. Josh does not do well when Mr. Special Ed Teacher goes into the general ed classroom to help him with reading. Josh is embarrassed of his reading in front of his peers and is often uncooperative. His self concept is very low and he often gives up. At times he has cried in the room. When he receives one on one support in the resource room with Mrs. Nice Special Ed Teacher he is much more cooperative because he is receiving individual support and there is no one else in the room. It is also noted that Josh is uncomfortable in new situations, and has difficulty following multi-step instructions. He also does not recognize cause and effect. Ms. Berry states that Josh continues to struggle with speech".

Anyone catch the red flags???

Ok, how about this one:

Josh often told me that Mr. Special Ed Teacher was mean to him but could not explain why he thought this. I thought that maybe Josh was interpreting being pushed to work on things that were challenging as mean. I didn’t know that Josh’s speech impairment was much greater than what I suspected and that he had issues with word finding as well as expressive/receptive language. In forth grade I found out how mean Mr. Special Ed Teacher actually was.

First Grade: “He doesn’t know how to write, spell or read his name”

First Grade was a better year emotionally for Josh. He had a lovely teacher that supported and understood him. He didn’t cry at drop off anymore! He also made some friends and was invited to a few birthday parties.

Josh’s academic issues however were getting increasingly critical. I went to open house night and noticed that Josh’s last name was spelled incorrectly, by accident, on the name card that the teacher had made and taped to his desk. All the kids had these name cards. I told the teacher about the mistake and she said, “I wonder why he didn’t tell me”. I told her, “He doesn’t know how to write, spell or read his name”. I don’t think she could have looked more concerned if she had tried. It was a look of horror really. I think that’s appropriate, it is how I felt, horrified.

Unfortunately  Josh  was found no longer eligible for speech because “he had met all his goals”. I expressed some concerns that he continued to confuse sounds but no additional speech language testing was performed. He no longer had an IEP so now it was back to SST (which I would like to rename school stall tactic instead of student support team).

I continued to request educational-psychological testing for learning disabilities because Josh continued to struggle despite participation in the Early Intervention Program (EIP) program for reading and math. Josh’s teacher fully supported me in my requests. The School District finally agreed to perform a psychological during January and March 2008.

What they found was that Josh performed on a beginning of kindergarten level but he had already been through kindergarten twice! By first grade he was already two years behind!!!