These ups and downs

Today was my first IEP meeting to discuss the findings of the special education evaluation performed on Luke over the last couple months (most of it was yesterday I found out in the meeting, hmmm…). I went in with such high hopes knowing that the educational staff has my child’s best interests as priority number one, that is their job. The laws surrounding special education and disabilities in the classroom were designed to help children achieve and be the best that they can be. These great people acting under these great laws coupled with the report from Luke’s Behavioral MD and Occupational Therapist would certainly come together to help him achieve his definition of greatness. I was confident.

I was delusional! I don’t want to be cynical but it’s times like these that I can’t help but feel angry, disappointed, and completely helpless. How can anyone see how much he struggles with handwriting, pencil grip, use of scissors, etc. and deny him occupational therapy to better these skills?

I actually had to sign a document today saying that Luke’s disability (ADHD) does not hinder his academic achievement. That is a lie. He gets average or better scores on his report card for reading and math but gets low scores in writing. How is that not affecting his academic achievement? If he didn’t have a problem with writing, he would receive average or better scores in writing.

His writing problems and need for occupational therapy were the only reasons I requested that he was tested for special education services. I knew that 504 Plan accommodations would keep his ADHD “symptoms” from affecting his grades and achievement, if implemented properly.

So, after all of this, you are probably wondering why Luke was denied special education services.

He’s smart.

That’s right, you heard me, he is SMART.

He was denied special education services because he is extraordinarily smart. On the WISC-IV Intelligence Test, Luke’s Full Scale IQ falls in the above average range. He scored very well on the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement as well. In fact, he scored above average in everything except Writing Fluency and Reading Vocabulary.

All of this is, however, no surprise to me. I know he is very intelligent. His kindergarten teacher knew he is very intelligent. His first grade teacher knows he is very intelligent. Our entire family knows he is very intelligent. After experiencing his behavior and lack of achievement, everyone is shocked to discover how intelligent he is. That disconnect is what lead me to look for a learning disability. That disconnect is apparently what will keep him from the extra help he needs as well.

So we will begin the process again now for 504 Plan participation. It is a different set of educators/administrators for the most part who will make that decision. The problem is, a 504 Plan is just a crutch. The 504 Plan accommodations will help him to not be penalized for the “symptoms” of the ADHD, and that is fantastic, but they will not provide services to help him improve his deficiencies, not so fantastic. See, there are ADHD issues that hold him back, like inability to finish assignments and poor scoring on timed tests due to that inattention, and then there are actual deficiencies, like the handwriting. The 504 Plan can allow him to use a word processor for assignments instead of writing them to get by but it will not provide any services to help him improve the handwriting skills and not need the word processor, the crutch.

Here I am devastated that my child was denied special education. It feels just awful and very backwards. It feels ungrateful. It feels miserable. I know I cannot be the first parent sad about the special education department not accepting their child though. I am sure there are hundreds or thousands of children who walk the line between mainstream education and needing special services, like Luke. I am sure there are many children out there who’s intelligence overshadows their special needs. It is so ironic.

I was told today that my child has gifted intelligence and does not need special education and I am sad. What gives?

(Pictured is one of Luke’s spelling tests from about a month ago. The Concerta was helping with his handwriting a good bit — it slowed him down. This looks really great to me, knowing where he started, but this is not first grade performance.)

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.
A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

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Related posts:

504 plan, adhd and school, attention/focus, classroom accommodations, dysgraphia, occupational therapy, school failure, special education (IEP) ·

About the author

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom. A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom's view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

8 Comments

  1. my3sons says:

    Hi,We just recently put a 504 plan in place for my son. He is also very bright, but has a hard time paying attention to his own work, and rushes through his work. In his plan we put that he needs a carousel (SP?) so he can’t look at the child next to him and get distracted. Also we tell him that he can’t bring his paper to the teacher until a certain amount of time has gone by. He also has poor handwriting. Very messy and rushes. I have started to have him re-write the messy words over. He gets tired of doing it twice and his teacher has noticed that he is writing neater. It is a struggle; especially when they are smart kids but also have ADHD. I wanted the 504 in place so if he needed the extra things to make him successful he would have it. It seems like only 3 kids in his school of 300 kids have a 504. I was shocked to hear this, but it is true! I think the schools have really tightned the special ed lately. They really have to have some serious issues to qualify. It isn’t fair to the kids, but seems to be common lately. Good luck!

    Reply
  2. Mia says:

    This post has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  3. Mia says:

    It can be extremely frustrating when we go towards promises of services only to find out that it’s not what we thought, what it was touted as…it’s not going to help. I’m so sorry that you and he have to go through that. I am hopeful that you will get the help your family needs. **sorry for the delete…I didn’t want to post twice, and yet I still did. LOL…anyway, wanted you to know I’ve added you to my blogroll (and obviously me feeds).**

    Reply
  4. Shane H. says:

    Until recently, I was unaware of the giftedness/ADHD/special education issue. How terrible! Denying your son the special education services he needs because he’s gifted?! Keep fighting for him. You are his best advocate. I just wrote to stories about this on Trusera… may they can help you.http://www.trusera.com/health/stories/carouselgirl/adhd-gifted-childrenhttp://www.trusera.com/health/stories/carouselgirl/adhd-vs-giftedness-part-2

    Reply
  5. Melissa Johnston says:

    Hi Penny,
    After reading this I have a few questions…did they perform an OT evaluation at school? I know you posted this back in March and since then he is receiving OT, but are you paying for it? If he has sensory issues, he more than likely has a midlin deficinciency hich is causing him to have difficulties with handwriting, amongst many other issues such as balance, pencil grip, sitting in his chair properly, squiming, fidgety, etc.. In addiion to this, they should offer services for Luke, such as counseling(especially if his behavior is an issue in the classroom and with peers), speech (expressive language deficit, seeing that his reading and writing vocab are below average)? Did they test for speech and language? I'm appauled that they had you sign something to indicate that ADHD does not effect him. So I'm assuming they did not classify him seeing that you are requiring about a 504. However, he has been diagnosed by a dr. and therefore that qualifies him to be classified as OHI (other health impaired). You also, by law, can request an outside evaluation if you feel that the tests they performed were not sufficient. If you have any questions and if I don't know the answer, I will find out. Being a teacher, I have insight as to how to go about these things. If they deny any of these things, a threat from you saying that you will call an advocacy group will always get their attention. 😉

    Reply
  6. Melissa Johnston says:

    P.S. you can request a CSE meeting at anytime…even if you just had one.

    Reply
  7. @Melissa, you dug back deep to find this post — it's 15 months old. We have come a long way since then. Yes, he was denied special education. He was fully tested for it but he showed gifted intelligence and each time he was observed in the classroom (I think 4 sep times on 2 sep days for about 10-20 minutes each), he was found to be on task — but there was a full time teacher's assistant in the classroom then (1st grade) and not now, now it's just one hour a day the teacher gets use of an assistant. He was tested by their OT and found that he did have significant handwriting issues but that wasn't enough to qualify him for special ed. They said he had to have two “problems” to qualify for services. We did get the 504 Plan without any problems and they have been great about giving Luke acommodations, even more than I've requested. Yes, we are paying for OT privately — it was a financial hardship until I was able to get the kids on the state children's health ins plan — I charge the copay on credit cards at first but I am so glad I did, OT is so great for Luke! They are starting to work with him on midline issues more since I spoke to them about it after reading something you (I think) wrote on the facebook page about that. Thanks so much for all your inside advice!

    Reply

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