My very ADHD son started high school this year, and in our area that means he’s been in school since September 3: Sixteen days. Last year they made great strides and actually got him back into a mainstream classroom, though granted it was a year behind his social grade. (I don’t know what the real term is…nominal grade?) But still: given that he had lost essentially three years dealing with anxiety and other issues and that he has his own learning style, bringing him up to a point where he could be with the other students was huge. Huge.
And now, sixteen days after the start of the school year, thirteen school days after the start of the school year, I got a call from the teacher.
He doesn’t seem to be absorbing the math. He seems okay when you talk to him about the concepts, but it doesn’t show up on the tests. We’d like to move him from the Applied stream into the Fast Forward program.
Brief digression: In our school system, the Fast Forward program is essentially where they teach skills for living and abandon all other pretense. (There might be one lower, but at Fast Forward, we have left the normal school system entirely.) Once your child has gone into Fast Forward, I suspect they never get out: It is the bourne from which no traveller returns.
My heart sank. I have been listless, depressed, angry since they called. This is a decision more far-reaching than any other we have made because we cannot turn back if we say yes.
At least, I have that impression. I feel like this is the point where the school system gives up, where they stop trying anything like a normal education for my child, and they settle. “Oh, he can add. Good enough.”
Am I right? I don’t know.
Reasons why they might be right: He does have trouble learning things. He is anxious and that will hold him back. These people are professionals who work with kids all the time: they might be seeing signs that I’m ignoring. My son would rather be active doing things than studying, reading, doing schoolwork. He is, though I am sad to say it, a prime candidate for the kind of kid who drifts into a life of…not crime, but with no direction and bad behaviour that has never been thought about.
Reasons why they might be wrong: He is not stupid. This teacher is new for this kind of Special Ed work. I am not certain that he studied for this test–he was at the house of one of his classmates and I have no idea if actual studying happened. It has been thirteen school days: this first test should be a chance to be mistaken and then rectify it.
Heart-sick. That’s how I feel.
Even if we say, “No, you can’t put him in Fast Forward yet,” there is clearly work ahead of us, going through the math every night, and finding a way to make him successful.