Dear Dr. Brilliant cliché,
I have a friend whose eight year old son is having a tough time. He is smart but is constantly in trouble at school.
I volunteer in the school and can see that the boy looks miserable. He is always being scolded by teachers and he hasn’t made it out for recess once yet this year as he is always on punishment. I think he needs help, and IEP (Individual Education Plan) intervention. Although he is intelligent, I suspect a learning disorder. It just kills me to watch how he is starting to hate school. He is beginning to takes his misery out on other kids too and can be mean. In the past, whenever I made suggestions to a friend about having their kid tested for ADHD or some other learning disorder, it has never gone well and I have usually lost that friend. I hate seeing this child suffer but I don’t want to lose his mom as a friend. What should I do?
Unsolicited advice is rarely taken well but this is important information your friend needs to hear. However, it is not your job to tell her. A better course is to discuss your thoughts with his teacher. Not only is she the one who should be broaching this to his mom, but the child is probably driving her nuts and she might welcome your suggestions.
If, after testing, his needs cannot be met in this classroom, there are many specialized schools for children who just don’t fit in the public school mode. I recently visited a school where the kids rarely ever sat or stopped moving. It was a self- directed school where the kids were engaged in projects all day and Destination Imagination (a national problem solving competition) was incorporated into the school curriculum. I never met a more enthusiastic, friendly and intelligent bunch of kids and these were all children who were not able to be successful in the public school system.
It’s never good to be a square peg in a round hole. Kids don’t know they are a square peg. They just feel something is wrong with them. School shouldn’t be hell. Once a kid learns to hate school they are lost to our culture.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: I concur; however, I will add one thought- there may be something going on in this child’s life that has nothing to do with a learning disability. I discovered that a nephew of mine had been sexually abused ten years ago by an older kid from another neighborhood. My nephew became mean to other children and a problem at school and no one knew why until he reached his 20’s and finally got to the heart of the matter in therapy.
Definitely, bring up your thoughts to the teacher- but keep an open mind too. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing other possible sources for this kid’s problem because you are already convinced he has a learning disability. You have made superficial observations over time in a school setting. The big picture could include factors you haven’t been shown.