Monday, June 27, 2016

In The Beginning

We married relatively young and had three daughters. When they were teenagers we became foster parents and fostered a total of 29 children in nine years. When our girls were ages 19, 17 and 14, a baby boy was placed in our home who would capture our hearts and change our lives. His adoption was final right after his 3rd birthday.

Teddy was special from the beginning. Smart, affectionate and stubborn as can be. He absorbed knowledge from the world around him as easily as breathing it seemed. At three he could tell you anything you wanted to know about dinosaurs, snakes or sharks. He had a large vocabulary, a great imagination and a love of both books and nature.

Teddy's learning differences were apparent long before kindergarten. Although he was constantly exploring and learning, he wasn't learning what his teachers were trying to teach. He repeated kindergarten in the hope that an extra year would allow him to mature and be prepared for first grade.

In first grade the struggles really began. He didn't learn to read, and began to hate school. Because he liked his teachers and friends, he made it through the year fairly uneventfully. Again in second grade he didn't learn to read. Throughout that year he had an excellent tutor and made a little bit of progress, but his classmates were getting farther ahead. By the end of that year his self-esteem was noticeably lower, and he became oppositional.  He struggled all day in every subject which required reading, then had tutoring and homework after school. Daily life became miserable for all of us.

We changed Teddy to a new school, which was supposed to have better special education services, for third grade. He still made very little progress in reading, and became ashamed, angry and sullen. Testing and diagnosis of learning disabilities gave us information but didn't improve the situation. By that time Teddy had spent 4 years falling further and further behind his peers, learning to hate school and believing that he couldn't learn.

My husband and I work stressful, full time jobs. We had no idea how we could manage to educate Teddy ourselves, but knew that he couldn't go on the way things were. By the end of 3rd grade he was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, along with his learning challenges. We refused to give him more medication and expect him to keep struggling on the way he was. We were losing the boy we knew. He was in a system that couldn't meet his needs. All three of us were sad and suffering.

Five weeks before the end of 3rd grade, will pulled Teddy out of school. We knew we could find a better way, we just didn't know how.

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