Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Matthew Effect

This idea, the Matthew Effect, has been haunting me.  I want every parent of a struggling reader to LISTEN UP!!   The Matthew Effect in reading was named for the verse in Matthew 25:29 that reads, "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath."  Essentially, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

According to the Matthew Effect, first called this by Keith Stanovich, the "rich" are the learners who excel in literacy early on, and the "poor" are those who do not, or the "haves" and the "have nots".  In the very early years, reading assessments will show a small difference in literacy foundations.  Each year, however, the gap in learning will become wider and wider.  Third grade is an essential year for the Matthew Effect.  Educators often call this the last year of "learning to read".  The gap will be significant by this point.  By fourth grade, these students will be considered as "reading to learn".  After the fourth grade year, most of these "have nots" will never be able to catch up.  {{NEVER BE ABLE TO CATCH UP}}.  The thought of a child not ever being able to catch up terrifies me.  This child will become an adult.  This gap will become wider.  This person will feel more and more inferior as the gap gets wider and wider.   What kind of child are we raising when this happens? How "poor" will this child become?

As a teacher, I see the basis of this every single day.  The "rich" beam with pride over their accomplishments.  They rack up points and check off the boxes of achievements.  They attend ice cream parties for their good grades and rack up AR points and incentives along the way.  Their names are displayed in class boasting their achievements.  They get free burgers, personal pizzas, and tokens for games at local restaurants.  They get gold cords at graduation. They have no reason to pat themselves on the back.  They have been applauded abundantly by society.  Their accomplishments are obvious just by walking in the classroom and seeing the rows of stars displayed beside their names.  How very rewarding.  These children will become "richer" and "richer" as they glide along in their euphoria. They read more and more and continue to be encouraged.

Meanwhile, in the far corner of the room {{or sitting right by the teacher}}, there is a child who is getting "poorer" and "poorer" every single day.  This child has been in intervention since pre-k, but the intervention hasn't helped much. This kid hates to read because he will never collect stars by his name. He is called out of class daily to go to Mrs. Daigle's room.  Everyone knows that Mrs. Daigle helps kids who are stupid and can't read.  When he has to read in class, the "rich" sigh and stare at him as he sounds out each word, or they spew the words at him before he has two seconds to sound... them... out. When the teacher asks questions about what he just read, he can't answer.  He worked so hard just reading, that he didn't get any of the meaning.  He forgot he was supposed to remember what he read.  She makes him read it again. It doesn't help. It never helps. During library, he stares at the shelves for 40 minutes.  Any book he can check out and read will look like a baby book.  He wants to read chapter books like the "haves".  He checks out big books and pretends to read them.  Maybe they won't notice that he can't read it.  But they do. He's only earned one star beside his name on the chart, and everyone can see how dumb he is the second they enter the room.  He quit trying to earn AR prizes or incentives because he can't possibly win.  What's the use?  He sits in class and draws while the honor roll students go to the "honor roll party" in the gym each term.

The "have not" struggles all day long.  Since he can't read well, he can't read his science or social studies textbook to answer the assigned questions.  He usually pretends he doesn't care about the assignment....but it's better than saying, "I read it three times, and I'm too dumb to understand it." He reads less and less.  Reading for enjoyment is a thing of the past. When he gets home from school, he is exhausted, but he still has homework.  Seriously.  He has worked so hard all day long, and he has to go home and continue working...for hours.  His parents are tired and work harder than most parents with him each night just so he can pass.  He can't play basketball, and he {{LOVES}} basketball.  He's actually GREAT at basketball.  But, playing any sport takes away from the time he spends studying or finishing homework, so his parents won't let him play.  He works harder than the "honor roll" students.  He has to. He doesn't get stars for his work.  He doesn't get free ice cream, or tokens, or pizza, or anything.  At all. Ever.  He prays to get a C, maybe a B.  He doesn't even consider an A is possible.  He's too dumb.  He NEVER reads a book by choice.  Who has time for that?  Reading is not fun, anyway.

So, the gap increases each year.  After 4th grade, there is very little intervention taking place. School is hard, and it only gets harder as the pace increases and fewer people take the time to slow down for you.  The Matthew Effect can be blamed for students who drop out of school and students who think college is impossible.  Why would anyone CHOOSE more school? 
I don't have a solution for this problem, just a plea.  If your child seems to be reading below grade level in the early elementary years, please do something.  Seek intervention, hire a tutor, do something.  I know you think he will catch up, but chances are, he will not...ever. 


Questions regarding your child?? Want me to write about a specific topic? email me!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Girls and ADHD (a personal experience)

Statistics will say that more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD.  It is true.  Boys are more often diagnosed than girls, but I am not completely convinced this is a male dominant "disorder".  I prefer the term "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Difference" since these kids are so gifted in so many ways and don't seem to fall under the "disorder" umbrella. (Thank you to my friend Colette for the inspiring term).  Boys are much more obvious in this difference than girls.  Girls, however, more girls than you think, fit the bill.

ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is often characterized by those children who clearly have trouble focusing, have a high amount of energy, and probably exhibit impulsive behavior.  INATTENTIVE ADD is simply characterized by a lack of focus.  While ADHD fits the very definition of typical boy behavior, it does not fit most girls.  Consequently, the boys who stand out most that have a short attention span can be suggested as ADHD early on.  Their behavior waves the giant red flag. The problem is not lack of focus.  The problem is that the typical child with ADHD focuses on everything and cannot tune anything out. Those with Inattentive ADD, however, do not stand out.  They bother no one...except themselves.  This is my experience:

For my daughter, shyness was a big issue.  I am a teacher at her school.  She spoke to NO ONE.  Colleagues would come to me and celebrate one word from her.  I would walk away thinking that it would be another week, month , or year before she would utter another word to them.  She was shy to the point that I felt she was being rude.  I punished her, lectured her, educated her on proper social interaction, and on and on.  She still stood frozen, nostrils flared, head down, at the thought of having to speak.  I later learned that this type of shyness is common in the ADD population.  (The terms ADHD and ADD will be used interchangeably here since the medical community lumps it all under the ADHD umbrella.  They are quite different however.)

My daughter is very intelligent.  She had no troubles in school...until 3rd grade.  This is the age where they are expected to be more independent, get their work done as assigned,!  Well, we did.  We studied.  I knew we had to study more than I ever had to with my son who is only a year older in school.  My first red flag was when we started getting back her reading comprehension "cold reads".  These are passages that the child reads for the first time, no teacher intervention, answers questions, and is graded on spot.  EVERY ONE OF THEM WERE FAILING GRADES. F. F. F. I had never seen an F in anything we could study together.  We could not study for these.  Fortunately, I am a reading teacher, so I knew exactly what to do!  I reviewed and reviewed.  We practiced and practiced.  I just knew it would get better because I know how to help kids who struggle with reading. :)



Midyear, I decided to share with my husband that I thought she may have ADD.  It runs in my family and his, so all the puzzle pieces were coming together.  Because I am an educator, I was aware of the signs.  He thought I was crazy.  "Abby does NOT have ADHD.  She is as sharp as a tack!" And she is, SO bright.  But intellect and ADD are not related.  At all.  Children with ADD and ADHD could be the smartest people you'd ever meet. They just think differently.  They also have to be taught differently.

Besides the afore mentioned, there have been a few things I noticed as a mom educated in this field and aware of special needs.  Abby NEVER watched a movie all the way through.  She still does not unless we are taking a trip and she is seatbelted to the seat. 

She reads like a champ with all of the inflection she could possibly muster.  Her words sound like a story being told to you. In her early grades, this fluency and inflection fooled her teachers (and her mother) into thinking she comprehended what she was reading.  She was raised by a reading teacher, after all.  She comprehended very little, however. Who knew? 

Finally, at home, this is a child who never completed a chore.  I could never ask her to complete more than one task at a time, no matter how simple.  If I said, "Pick up your socks, shoes, and backpack and put it in your room,", she would run to her room, eventually return, and say, "Wait, what did you want me to do in my room?" I had to break down each task into one-step instructions.  One day, when she was 8,  I asked her to get a ponytail holder, a bobby pin, and the detangling spray. She returned with all three.  The second she came into the living room with all THREE items, she said, "I got all three things! Look!  They're all here!" My son looked on in amazement.  It was such an accomplishment to her!

I realized that day that it was no act.  This was real life.  I started the evaluation paperwork the next day.  She was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Vyvanse at the lowest dose.  Her difference is mild.  I could deal with her differences at home, but her grades were starting to drop.

She takes Vyvanse now, and in 6th grade, she even notices the difference the medicine makes.  When she asks to take a break from it, I let her.  However, her grades drop and she eventually tells me she needs her medicine. I want this to be her journey and her understanding of her needs.  We speak openly about the fact that she has ADD (along with other loved members of the family including her dad) and the fact that she needs her medicine to focus.  I don't treat it as a difference.  Rather, we see the medicine as something that she needs to be able to learn and focus.  My oldest son needs glasses.  He needs them to learn.  I'm not going to deny him glasses, obviously, so why should I deny her the medicine to focus.  He has a difference in his eyes.  She has a difference in her brain.  Same difference.

My daughter has been the shy kid.  She is intelligent.  She reads like a champ, but she comprehends half of it.  She is very moody at home.  She picks fights with siblings most days.  She talks back to me.  She screams.  She yells. She is stubborn. Her room is a mess. She never completes the chore list without making her own list.  She is complex.  I love her.  I love her carefree nature.  I love her humor.  I love her athleticism. I love how well she follows others' directions.  I love how coachable she is.  I love her...AND....I love her ADD.  it is a part of her, but it is NOT WHO she is!  She is a beautiful child.

if you are concerned about your daughter, contact me.  Comment below.  I may be able to help!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I am A.D.

Spelling is the best!  That's what I tell my students anyway in an effort to brainwash them. I also throw in things like, "The reading comprehension test will be so much fun; I can't wait!" or "Sentences!  Who's ready to write?!" I follow this with clapping and cheering.  I even tell them I'm their favorite teacher.  I think some of them are even falling for that one. SO, instead of a class of moans and groans, I pull out a spelling test and get cheers! 

How do I really feel?  Spelling tests are for the birds.  I am a B-O-R-N speller.  It was always my favorite subject because I rocked at it! I made jaws drop at 8-years-old when I spelled "Atchafalaya ~ A-T-C-H-A-F-A-L-A-Y-A" at my grandparent's house when the adults were all scratching their heads. I (((HEART))) spelling! My brother, however, hated it.  It was the worst part of homework...studying spelling.  Pencils flew, fists slammed, tears erupted.  He is dyslexic.  After years and years and years of typical spelling tests and nights and nights and nights of studying, all of that hard work and all of those tears....he still can't spell.  He can't spell my name.  I am A.D. He's intelligent, a talented song writer, and has a hilarious wit, but he can't spell. No one ever taught him since every teacher who taught him did so in the typical weekly list, memorize, regurgitate format.  It doesn't work. You can't teach a child who struggles with letters and words that the letter "Y" says /y/ as in yarn all through Kindergarten, then teach them when they read that it doesn't always say that.  When it is at the end of a short word, it says /I/ as in fly, but when it is at the end of word with more than one syllable it says /i/ as in party.  We expect them to get this understanding with no explanation whatsoever.  If your school is using a spelling list that is not teaching rules and sounds, you need to find a way to provide that knowledge to them.

I currently teach using the Spalding method which is an Orton Gillingham based method of teaching spelling. This is a phonics based, multisensory approach to teaching.  Project Read and Barton are other popular programs that are OG based among others.  I believe this method is essential to teaching children, especially those with learning disabilities, to spell.  The first year I used the Spalding method, I taught 2nd grade.  I reviewed rules of spelling and phonograms (units of sound) all week.  On Friday, I called out ten words that followed the rules and phonograms.  Students were graded on how well they spelled those words.  They learned.  They applied.  They never studied a spelling list.  There was no spelling list. Now, I teach fourth grade, and I do have a spelling list, but each word has rules and phonograms that are identified and reviewed each week.  There should never be a kid memorizing letters, only sounds that make  up the word.  If you want more help with spelling, see my blog post about spelling. Comment with questions if needed!  I'm happy to help.

~ A.D.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer Reading for the Kids that HATE to Read

So your kid doesn't LIKE to read??  Well, welcome to the club.  Even as a reading teacher, I have one kid who reads on his own, and one kid who has never independently read her way through an entire book without my intervention.  It's like pulling teeth and an added stress through the school year and throughout summer with the summer reading assignments.  She also struggles with reading comprehension  due to her attention issues.  Reading is not easy or enjoyable.  It's work.  How do you handle this over the summer?  I have a few ideas based solely on my experience as a mom and teacher.  This is my opinion only, and it is aimed at the 3rd grade and up population.  I also suggest you read my other blog post about reading.  I hope it works.

1.  NEVER let your child know how reluctant YOU are about THEIR assigned reading or anything school related.  You are the most influential person on their outlook on all things in life, especially school, teachers, and learning.  If you dread it, so will they, giving them a negative attitude toward learning for the rest of their lives.  (Remember:  We need successful kids that move out and get a life one day.)

2. Take week #1 of summer off.  Breathe.  Relax. (You should, however, let your reluctant child know when summer reading is expected to begin.)

3.  If your child was assigned summer reading, start there.  Don't spend endless hours searching for other materials online or in your library when you already have a difficult task ahead for your child.    To tackle reading, decide how many chapters should be read each day to complete the book.  Let your child know the plan. 

Our school requires the child to either answer questions in each chapter or complete some sort of activity as the book is read.  So, each time your child completes a chapter, have them answer the questions immediately or search for the answers as they read.  Never wait to answer questions or complete activities once the book is done, unless they have to write a summary (sometimes called synopsis) of the book. If you feel you must read the book with them to accomplish this, there's no harm in doing so.  However,  be helpful, not harmful. Don't do it for them.  Your goal is to get them to be more and more independent in summarizing and answering questions as the reading progresses.  You don't even have to read the book at all, actually.  Not knowing the plot will require the summaries and answers to be more of theirs, not yours.

4. SHARE THE READING!!!  It is a common misconception that parents should let their child read only independently beyond 3rd grade.  This is so completely untrue.  You could NEVER hurt your child's reading skills by reading to them.  Notice, however, that I said to share this.  I read. You read.  I read.  You read.  They should read more chapters independently than you share.  Remember, we are trying to gain independence.  Maybe you can share one chapter for every 3 they read.  You can be the judge on a suitable balance based on your child's needs.

Kids who continue to struggle with reading by this age MUST hear a good reader read often.  Specifically, they need to hear how your voice rises and falls, how you stop at punctuation marks, the tone in your voice at happy/sad times in the story, the MISTAKES you make, the times you have to reread because you didn't understand.  THIS should all be externalized during reading.  Tell them that you made a mistake or your mind was wondering, so you have to go back and reread that paragraph.  You should also STOP at times to discuss how this part of the story connects to your own lives,  to figure out a difficult word based on how it is used in the story, how I think the character feels, or what may happen next.  YES, it's MORE than okay to STOP while you read. Finally, discuss what you think a certain scene or character looks like.  Picturing the story is typically another thing they don't do while reading. {{ Note: This step is jam packed with important strategies for struggling readers.  Print this and highlight those suggestions if you need to.  It will be a giant help to your child.}}

5.  Have them read TO YOU!  This is important.  This is when you listen to what they do to hurt their comprehension.  Do this periodically, not for each chapter they read.  You don't want to discourage them.  Be positive when they read well, but stop them to discuss mistakes.  You are looking for the same things listed above when you read.  All of them are important. 
The struggling reader may: add words that don't belong, continue reading past a word that they don't understand, read words incorrectly without stopping for meaning.  These all hurt comprehension.  The biggest red flag is the kid who misreads the words and continues on without regarding the lost meaning.  This tells you they are simply reading words on the page and not "the story".  No focus.  No understanding.  Ask them to reread to gain understanding when this happens.  It should sound like, "Oh, wait a minute, I couldn't understand what happened in that part, did you?  Maybe we need to reread to understand what just happened."  NEVER, "Oh, wait, you read that part wrong.  Let's read it again."  While both sound like a kind, concerned parent, one way sounds like they are reading "wrong".  They are already insecure.  Be as positive as possible.

6. Beyond summer reading, there are ways to get your reluctant reader to continue reading.  They may have discovered a favorite author through summer reading.  Get more books like that.  Most of these kids will prefer shorter reads, not necessarily chapter books, though.  Order magazines on their reading devices or in the mail that interest them (National Geographic Kids, Sports Illustrated Kids, Boys' Life, Time for Kids, Girls Life, American Girl).  Get them online to some cool sites that these same magazines also offer.  I've discovered for kids.  It has a new wonder each day for the kids to read about.  You may ask your child to read about one each day and tell you about it over dinner.  It's a good way to require the extra practice without it being such a daunting task. 

It is important to know that the struggling reader lacks confidence in this area.  They typically feel that they are doing something wrong or something is wrong with them.  They often have the misconception that good readers never make mistakes or ever have to reread parts of the book.  They think good readers like every book they pick up.  You have to be supportive and help them to understand that all readers struggle at some point, all readers make mistakes, and all readers may not like a book they read at some point.  They need to find the genre that interest them most, not their friends.  Talk to them about your reading and what helps you.

Happy reading!


Questions regarding your child?? Want me to write about a specific topic? email me!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

She's Just a Teacher...

I am in my tenth year of teaching and nearly 40 years old.  I teach.  It was my first choice for my future for as long as I could remember, but not the path I originally followed.  If I knew you when I was 18, I had no clue what I wanted to do << I wanted to teach>>.  If you met me as a college freshman, I was switching my major from Psych to Sociology, still lost <<I wanted to teach>>.  Later, you would find I had switched to nursing, then quickly on to Speech Pathology to finish the stretch <<I still wanted to teach>>.   No one would have heard the conversations I'd had with my grandmother's sisters who were teachers so long ago that they had punished my grandmother for speaking French in their own classrooms.  When they heard I wanted to teach, I'd see a look of pride followed by a quick look of concern.  I eventually would earn my teaching certificate.

I never understood the concern until now.  I am a teacher.  It is the LEAST that I do in a day's work. I teach reading, language, and spelling.  It is known that I can teach my kids to read better, spell better, and write better.  Sometimes it feels like I am the only one trying to achieve this goal.  I (teachers everywhere) do so much more.

You may not realize that I am with your child 8 hours of the day, five days per week, 180 days of the year.  I think about them before bed and as soon as I wake up.  I worry about their struggles constantly.

In a day's work...I teach reading, language, and spelling.  I pass out band aids and ice packs daily.  I sneak your kid ibuprofen or acetaminophen when they can't get in touch with you.  I'm not supposed to.  It's against the law, but when your child is crying in pain, I can't bear it anymore than you could.  I guide them to the bathroom with bloody noses, when they may puke, when their tummy hurts, when they have a yucky rash, when their best friend just said something really mean in front of everyone, when they have anxiety attacks.  I hug them when they won 1st place over the weekend, on their birthday, when they give me a drawing, when they didn't make the team, when their grandpa died during the night, when their mom moved out of daddy's house. I buy a book sack if you can't, and I find a jacket that is the uniform standard on the sale rack.  I protect them when there is an intruder on campus, a thunderstorm,  when a tornado is nearby and we are stuck in the dark beneath our desks...and. they. are. scared.  We pray together. I pray for them when they travel for competitions and tournaments, when they are nervous about a test.  I kneel in church beside them and ask God to make me a better model for them and to help me to guide them to greatness.  When they look like they may faint, I support their limp bodies until they are safe on softer ground.  I hover near their desks and point to test items that need their attention, careful not to draw attention to what is happening.  ((Can anyone see?  Will they notice that I need help?  I don't know how to do this?))  I ask others to ask your child to play with them since he seems to have few friends.  I make them take at least 3 bites at lunchtime when they would rather just stare at the food.  I correct them.  I make them responsible.  I expect more. I expect their best.  I discipline....because I am a role model, just as you are.  I am not their parent, even if they do slip and call me "Mom" everyday.  I am their teacher.  I love my job.   I love my kids.

The ART of teaching is not taught in schools.  Teachers learn so LITTLE in school.  Today, teachers are leaving this profession in staggering numbers because of decisions our lawmakers are making, {{non-teachers}}.  Teachers are unappreciated, underpaid, doubted, questioned, held solely accountable, and pushed around.  There are so many days I find myself wishing I'd done more.  Like this isn't enough?  Do something about it.  Stand up for our educators.  They are true heroes.  Support them.

Thank a teacher.  He or she deserves it every single day. 


Thursday, January 31, 2013


This post is about the most important thing you will ever do for your child.

  Help them to learn to READ. 

Whether they are the oldest, only, middle, youngest of 8 kids...take the time.    There is absolutely NOTHING more important than this skill to serve them throughout their entire lives. 
It will affect them in all subjects, even math.  Math is important as well, of course, but the kid who struggles in math, only may struggle in math.  The kid who struggles in reading struggles in every.single.subject.period.  By the 3rd, and especially the 4th grade, if they are not reading on level, DO SOMETHING.  They will continue to struggle until you do.

Sounds like a lot of work, right?  It is.  No one said kids were easy.  Look at it this way, if your precious child were playing in a basketball game or dancing in a dance competition, would you dedicate the 2 hours per week plus the hours of practice to attend the event?  This is their event now...where they need you.  The quality time spent while reading together is also a great bonding time.  Schedule it, dedicate the time, and attend. If it is within your budget, find a tutor who knows what they're doing.  Schedule a couple of sessions per week.  If you can only afford once per week, you'll have to step up to the plate to fill in for the extra time required. 

If you are paying $60/hr for sports lessons per week, ditch it.  Focus on what's more important.
Sports vs. Academics. You can help your child do both responsibly and teach loads of responsibility and confidence. If your child cannot do both responsibly, choose academics. Make all decisions based on what kind of 30-year-old you want your child to be. Sports will leave your child with memories, academics will leave your child with a college degree and a future. Sounds simple? You'd think.

How to succeed:  A good starting place is to meet with your child's teacher.  Really get to know exactly what skills are troubling for him/her.  Commit yourself to the time needed to build your child's reading skills either yourself or with a tutor.  Research.  Research.  Research.

If I didn't convince you, consider your child. They spend many hours of their day hoping that no one will notice how much they struggle.  They have less confidence in the classroom, and at times they feel stupid.  They won't tell you this.  This is the side of your kid that their teacher knows.  This is the side that your teacher tries to protect throughout their day by telling them ahead of time what they may have to read, inconspicuously pointing to the right answer in the chapter when a question is asked, so no one will notice that they couldn't find it in the book by themselves.  This is the kid that spends a few extra minutes after school, when no one is around, for help.  This is the kid that gets crabby for different reasons when they are doing homework.  They are not mad at anyone.  They are trying to distract from the fact that they don't really know how to get the work done alone.  In class, they have partners, a trusted friend, clues and cues.  At home they don't have this.  It's just them and a book.  LOST!

Wake up.  Pay attention.  There is nothing more important than what your child will be at 30-years-old.  Plan for their future.  You won't get a do over.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Don't Want to Label My Child

I hear you.  I get it.  We don't want our kids to grow up thinking there is something wrong with them and being treated differently for it.  It's hard just for us to accept that this baby we once dreamed big dreams for as we rocked them to sleep may have such a tough time achieving that goal.

Consider this, though...

As a teacher, a label does not put a stigma on a child in my room.  The label tells me that he may need me to visit his desk during the spelling test to make sure his d's and b's aren't backwards and his letters and words aren't all mixed up.  It may tell me that I need to sit him in the front of the classroom so that I have his attention, or the back of the classroom so he can move around a bit.  I may need to spend extra time on a writing assignment or forgive his constant use of lowercase and uppercase in all the wrong places.  The label may tell me that he REQUIRES extra time during testing, oral testing, quiet testing, small group testing. It tells me that I need to watch him on the playground to make sure he's being sociable enough, instead of closely examining each insect he finds.  He may have times that anxiety overwhelms him to the point that he can't remember the answers on the test.  I need to know that I need to be understanding.  I may need to allow him to skip every other number in a homework assignment or let you write it out for him sometimes when homework has become so difficult and overwhelming that you just want to pack all of the books and hold him.

A child without a label, under the protection of mom and dad, tells me that I am being asked to treat him like every other kid who requires none of this.  Our Special Education teacher says, "If a child needed glasses to have an even playing field as his peers, would you give him glasses?"  Of course we would.  This "label" is glasses to those kids.

A label is only a bad thing, in my opinion, when it is viewed as a negative.  When the label is actually used to label the autistic child, the Aspie kid, instead of the kid with autism or the kid with Asperger's.  A child should not be told they ARE ADHD, but that they have ADHD or anxiety.  They have dyslexia, rather than always being called dyslexic.  They should have a true understanding that none of this is a measure of their intelligence.  Their brains are wired differently (in the words of one of my favorite kids with Asperger's).  They should know that there is a way to help all of these things.  They should also be prepared to work harder than everyone else.

I feel that a parent who hides a "label" sends the message that it is something they should be ashamed of or that mom and dad may be ashamed of.  We know we could never be ashamed of our children, though.  I realize that the decision to hide the label comes from a good place of love and protection, but can be perceived as something very different by the child.  A friend of mine helped me to understand this as an adult whose label was hidden from her.  When she actually found out that she had ADHD, she was relieved.  She wasn't stupid as she thought she was for so many years.

If you are under the impression that your child goes to school and thinks he is like all of the others, think again.  Kids know.  They know they are different, and they hate it.  However, giving them the gift of understanding their diagnosis allows them to feel that they are smart enough, they just have to work harder at it. 

They HAVE TO work harder at it.  That means you do, too.  It may never get better, but when you watch him walk across the stage to receive his college diploma, you'll thank God someone told you to do it.  Help him and don't accept excuses.  Help him to meet (and maybe exceed) all expectations.  Never, by all means, express your disapproval of a teacher or homework in general in front of a child who is frustrated.  Your opinion means the most to him.  If you are negative, he will be also.  Will all teachers be fair and understanding?  No.  That's something you just have to face and deal with.  Always fight for the rights that your "label" grants your child under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Find someone at your school who does understand and is in a position to help.  Research.  Research.  Research.

Many prayers for your journey.  I hope this helped.


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