Friday, December 18, 2009

Rage Against the Machine

Isaac has been at his new school for five weeks.

Earlier this school year, while my son was struggling desperately in public kindergarten, coming home every day exhausted and sullen, crying every morning and begging me not to take him to school, I was careful, very careful, about what I wrote here about my struggle to make things right for him there. So careful, in fact, that I nearly stopped writing here altogether out of fear that my emotions might overcome my logic and cause me to write something I might later regret.

My frustration with the bureaucracy standing between my son and the classroom accommodations and occupational therapy he clearly needed; my anger at a few particular school employees' and district officials' ignorance, ineptitude, lack of compassion toward my son, or lack of respect toward me; my righteous political indignation at the glaring cracks in state and local government regulations that my child with both special needs and a gifted intellect kept falling through again and again; my despair at failing, again and again, despite my best efforts, to surmount these difficulties to help my child: all these overwhelmed me and I longed to use this place as an outlet for my emotions. As a podium for my activism on his behalf. But I thought I could not.

Because I felt I had to work with these people. With this school. With this district. In this county in this state. I did not know whether I would be able to find a suitable private school situation; I did not know whether I would be able to afford an appropriate private school if I found one. I did not know how homeschooling, if we chose that route, would work out— I did not know whether I would have enough time to devote to it while also working, or whether my son, who loves people and enjoys the company of other children, would thrive shut up all day most days in the house just with me. I did not want to burn any bridges. I did not want to cause a group of people who seemed suspicious of my intentions from the moment I first questioned their methods and assumptions to become even more hostile toward me.

And I was also careful because I doubted myself and my emotions. I know teaching children is an extremely difficult job. I know that districts are underfunded and understaffed. I know that, as a mother, I am prone to bias in my child's favor. I know that, as a mother, I am very emotionally wrapped up in my child's day-to-day happiness. I was worried that maybe I was wrong about some things, and these professional educators were right. I was worried that my initial reactions toward the school were overly judgmental.

After seeing the drastic change in my son in this new, more understanding environment, I am beginning to think that before, I was not judgmental enough.

And I don't feel like being careful anymore.

One of the things Isaac finds most challenging about the school environment is all the fine motor activity. He has a documented motor skills delay. He has been diagnosed with serious motor planning problems— meaning he has difficulty thinking through motions ahead of time and telling the different parts of his body where to go— and when we had him tested extensively by the school district's own developmental testing team at the age of three, he scored significantly behind his peers. Now, at the age of five, his fine motor skills are about that of a three-year-old.

He grasps a pencil incorrectly, and colors with his whole arm instead of just moving his wrist. When he uses scissors, he has difficulty keeping them perpendicular to the paper, and often forgets to hold what he is cutting with his other hand. With intensive practice at home and with his private occupational therapist, he has learned to write most letters, but he is still slow at it, and his forms are shaky. Sometimes his numbers come out backwards. He struggles to write his own name.

It's not that he doesn't know what the letters are supposed to look like. He knew his alphabet by one and a half. He read his first word at the age of 21 months (and was reading whole phrases, and, ahem, certain proper names, just a few months later). Now he browses through my college intro planetary science textbook at the dinner table, trying to parse the big words, and asks me things like, "Mommy? What's a therm-o-nuclear explosion?"

(You may think I'm making that up to be funny. I'm not. Lock up your smoke detectors, people.)

But there's a disconnect somewhere in between the perfect image of the letters and numbers in his brain and the signals that tell his hand how to form them. He knows when his writing comes out wrong— he can tell you that he's just written a B backwards, or that he left off the silent E on the end of the word. But his slow hands just can't keep up with his quick brain, and so he inevitably winds up incredibly frustrated.

In public kindergarten, his in-class assignments and homework consisted almost entirely of worksheets that required coloring, cutting, and writing.

Letter recognition worksheets, where he had to color the big A and small a, trace the big A and small a, cut out several tiny paper apples, and paste them in neat order on a tree. Number recognition worksheets, where he had to copy this number, circle that number, draw a line from here to there.

These worksheets took him forever. He had to do them several times a day. He hated them.

Not only were they hard for him, but they were boring. Downright tedious. "They're still doing letter recognition for the kids in class who have never learned to read before," he'd tell me, sighing and rolling his eyes. I would explain to him that every kid is good at some things, and every kid struggles with other things. I would remind him that even though reading is easy for him, writing is hard, and he needed to practice, and this was a good way. I would sit with him, sometimes for an hour or more, at the end of each day, and help him push through homework that was meant to take ten minutes.

And in class, it was even worse— not only was he forced to do work that was simultaneously overwhelmingly difficult and mind-numbingly boring, but he also had a time limit, and was surrounded by distractions.

A child as sensitive to sensory stimuli as Isaac cannot not hear a child across the room whispering or rustling a paper. He can't not see the sudden movement of a another child's elbow out of the corner of his eye. Now imagine twenty children whispering and rustling and moving, all around him.

He has to fight constantly to forget the scent of lunch cooking down the hall or stop feeling the draft from the vent on his face or ignore the vibrations caused by the vacuum passing in the hallway.

So when he would color or write or cut in class, he would hum quietly to himself. Trying to drown out the noise so he could concentrate. He would fidget, trying not to feel the rivets in the back of his chair. He would sometimes get up altogether and walk around the room for a minute, trying to calm down get his mind back on his task.

And his teacher would scold him. And tell him to be quiet and sit still and stay in his seat.

And he would fail to finish his work as quickly as the other students. And be punished by having to sit and finish it while the other kids played at center time.

He was scolded, and punished, daily. When he would come home, he would say terrible things. About himself.

"I'm the slowest."

"I'm the worst."

"I was the only one who couldn't."

"I'm bad at writing."

"I didn't finish."

"I was afraid."

His teacher had access to his records— both the records of the school district, and the medical records I had added to his file. She knew he had a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder. She knew he had a motor skills delay.

I asked her if she could take that into consideration when assigning him activities in class. She told me she didn't think his sensory problems could have anything to do with not wanting to write. She told me thought he just didn't want to do the work.

His teacher knew he could read. She knew he'd gotten advanced letter and number recognition scores and a nearly perfect report card in preschool. She knew his preschool teacher considered him gifted. She knew he had taken a standardized developmental test and received a verbal score in the 99th percentile.

I suggested that perhaps if she offered written work that would be more interesting to him, he might be engaged enough to focus on it despite his difficulties with writing. That if he didn't find his homework boring he might be inspired to finish it even if the fine motor aspect of it was hard.

She told me "We don't want him getting too far ahead of the other children."

When I asked if we could have him tested for the school's gifted program, that would have taken him out of class one day a week to a place with smaller class sizes, more one-on-one attention, and more interesting material, she said, "He would fail the drawing test. I could overrule that, but I'm not sure I would. I'm not sure his IQ is high enough."

Isaac has been at his new school for five weeks. The paper above is a sheet of math homework he did this week. First grade math homework.

He did it in ten minutes.

He did it without complaining.

In fact, he has done not one but two math homework worksheets four nights a week for four weeks now.

He almost never makes a mathematical mistake.

I want to mail his old teacher a copy of every damned page. Screw mailing them, actually. I want to march into her classroom carrying a sheaf of them and slap them down on her desk.

In fact, I want to hand-deliver copies of this homework to every damn person at the school and the district who closed ranks around this teacher and dutifully stood in my way when I dared to challenge her evaluation and treatment of my son.

Yesterday my son asked me if, after winter break, I could ask his new teacher for some multiplication problems to add to his homework. He says addition and subtraction are getting old.

His IQ wasn't high enough for the gifted program, Old Kindergarten Teacher? REALLY?

I don't care what I have to do. I don't care if I have to sell a kidney to keep him in private school for the next several years. I don't care if I have to homeschool. I don't care if I have to sell my house and move. As long as people who want to pound "different" children like mine down until they fit into neat little boxes are in charge, MY CHILD IS NEVER GOING BACK TO HIS OLD SCHOOL.

And when he's a astronomer, or a science teacher, or a Senator, or any of the other things he's been telling me lately he wants to be when he grows up— now that he's no longer so stressed by school that he could barely think about the next day of his life, let alone the next few decades— when he's such a successful adult that no one cares anymore that he sometimes fidgets and sometimes hums and has bad handwriting— his first Kindergarten teacher, the one who could not see past the disability to see the child— she will not be the teacher he will thank.


Matt Osborne said...

"We don't want him getting too far ahead of the other children." It's a line straight out of Harrison Bergeron.

I have to say, I know how you feel to some extent. In 4th grade, my daughter's tested reading level was that of a high school graduate, but we had the problem that none of the books in her elementary school library were at her reading level -- and she refused to do book reports that bored her. The teacher, who didn't want to read my daughter's college-level writing, was NOT accommodating. This situation was only resolved by putting her into the school system where my mother had the superintendent's ear; but even then, there was a problem.

Here's what you'll run into next: your son will be in a classroom with X number of students, all of whom are best taught by a different method. So today's elementary teachers have been trained to teach ALL the students ten different ways to do a math problem. If you think your child is bored now, wait til he's doing the same long division ten different ways. My daughter kept getting bad grades not because she was incorrect, but because she refused to use method #7 or #4 out of sheer boredom. Even in high school, she was getting hit for "not showing her work" even though she could do the problems in her head.

Today she is 16 and in a homebound program while she tries to decide which of three PhD tracks she wants to follow. The public school system is a great blessing of democracy, but it's a bad place for smart kids.

Elizabeth @claritychaos said...

Oh, Jaelithe. I am so moved by your story, by your son's story. My heart feels it, as another mother. And I admire you so hugely for being his advocate, for being so fierce. You're doing him right, and I really think you should fire off a letter to the old school. Not necessarily a nasty one, but one expressing your anger/disgust/etc at how they handled the situation and an update on how he's doing at his new school.

It's bullshit how they handled it. I'm so happy for you guys that you got him into a school where he can thrive. Congratulations. (go mama!)

Jeannette E. Spaghetti said...

I'm never good at verbalizing my feeling in an eloquent manner that truly gets my emotion across, but it really broke my heart to read that his feelings toward himself turned negative.

It reminds me of my younger brother, who, in third grade asked our mom how old you have to be to drop out of school. He did not drop out, but he struggled his entire school career; his mind isn't wired the way most schools want it to be. He can't spell to save his life, but he can verbalize very complicated mechanical concepts in an easily understood and interesting manner. He's ridiculously creative, thinking so far out of the box that I'm not even sure he has a box anymore. I am always impressed by him.

Too many people try to force others into a mold of what they think is right. In doing so, they tend to ignore or overlook the very things that make an individual exactly that - individual. Everyone excels at certain things and no person is good at every one thing.

I'm ecstatic you've found a solution that will foster Isaac's curiosity and eagerness to learn. He's already an amazing person and transforming into an accomplished adult.

Jaelithe said...

Matt - I still vividly remember a school librarian flat out refusing, when I was in third grade, to allow me to check out the sixth grade level books, despite the fact that I was leaving my class for one hour each day to attend the sixth grade English class. She would not allow me to even take them of the shelf. I tried to sneak a peek at Black Beauty once and she slapped my hand away and pointed imperiously at the lower-level shelves.

I suppose I was hoping things had changed since then . . . but for kids who don't fit the mold they seem to have gotten worse.

I am grateful public schools were there for me because when I was young my parents had no other option. And I know public education is vital to our society. But it needs to get better. For everyone.

Unknown said...

You make reference to several evaluative interventions, but I do not get a clear sense of what IEP meetings took place to offer your son a plan that would address his special needs.

It is difficult with pre-K to "diagnose" special needs vs. developmental delays. I hope your new school has a good program, as your child's special ed needs are possibly still impacting, although some teaching techniques will make it easier for him in the beginning.

Too many private schools depend on public schools for their special needs issues.Thjere are many examples of fantastic public school interventions and accommodations for the issues you describe.

The neurological sensitivities you describe may lead you to medical and educational challenges in the future. I have spent a lifetime on both sides of the issues you describe, first as a student. then as a counselor, as well as a special ed dad and now a special ed teacher.

Try very hard not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, It is not unusual for parents to research and find a school system that meets their students special needs professionally and successfully, moving into that district.

Private schools and parent who are paying large tuitions often cannot afford the regime of special ed needs, which can involve teaching, counseling, medication, etc. Neurological interventions can be very expensive.

This time of relief will give you opportunity to consider the future. Be sure that you have a good professional to monitor this process. Good Luck!

Kathy G said...

Glad to hear that Isaac is doing well.

I'm not minimizing the awfulness of his public school teacher, or the administration that closed ranks around her. However, it's terribly hard to treat each child in the classroom as a complete individual--it would be like writing 20 different lesson plans. It takes an exceptionally devoted teacher to rise to the occasion, and with the tenets of "No Child Left Behind" breathing down their necks, most teachers take the easy way out.

It sounds like you're doing the right thing at this point in time. You're a good mom.

Jaelithe said...

Kathy G- I do acknowledge how hard it is for public school teachers, especially in the current climate, to give all children the attention they need, but trust me, this was a special situation.

I was ASKING the district to get the teacher some help in her classroom-- to get an aide or an OT to assist her-- the entire way I framed my approach from the beginning was that I knew she did not have time to handle all of this herself and I wanted to help her. And yet the teacher was actively participating in attempts to keep our access to special services as limited as possible. She took the attitude from the start that I was an overly pushy parent and my son's difficulties in school were caused by behavioral problems not a medical issue. She did not read his district file before school started, despite the fact that I approached her twice, months before the school year began, and told her that my son had special needs and had a district evaluation on file recommending certain accommodations.

I even offered to volunteer in the classroom myself so I could help my son. The teacher REFUSED TO LET ME VOLUNTEER IN THE CLASSROOM because she said she thought it would exacerbate what she termed my son's "attachment issues" to have me around.

Also, if anyone is wondering about IEP meetings etc., I have already written several posts about why my son could not qualify for an IEP in our district. If a child does not have a speech delay, this district uses the average developmental score from a multi-subject test as a benchmark for whether or not a child can qualify for an IEP. My son's two year motor skills delay would qualify him for special services IF HE HAD AVERAGE VERBAL SKILLS. But because his verbal skills are two years above average, his overall score, when verbal and motor scores are combined, comes out average. So he has been denied an IEP every time we have asked.

Basically, if he had normal intelligence and a motor delay, he could get services. But because he has above-average intelligence and a motor delay, he gets nothing.

Farrell said...

Here is what I think after reading this entry, and the prior entries:
I think Issac is extremely lucky to have you for his mother.
I also think you rock.
I also think you SHOULD march into that teacher's classroom and slap his NEW homework assignments across her desk.
I also KNOW that a teacher can make a world of difference, negative or positive, in a young kid's life. I've been lucky to have many, many positive teachers influence me in my day, but my mom will ALWAYS remember the 6th grade teacher I had who told me I sucked at math; I couldn't do it, because I was a girl. (And she was a woman!) Unfortunately, that stuck with me for the rest of my life.

I think you are an amazing woman with an amazing son and I only hope that this new school keeps working for him, and that he will be able to attend as long as you need him to.

7aki Fadi said...

We are the best (sometimes the only ) advocates for our children.

I hope him being in private school doesn't put a strain on you.

sugaredharpy said...

I know exactly how hard it is to get an IEP. We never got one, either. Same reasons, testing too high in certain areas and canceling out the others. And sometimes people (and family) infuriate me when they say, but OF COURSE he got accommodations, right? You say emphatically, no he did not. They don't believe you, they don't believe you didn't do enough evaluations, that you didn't fight hard enough, and so on.

Like you, I'm even more pissed off since I took Daniel out of school. I can see the difference much more clearly now.

I'm so happy he's thriving at the new school!!!

Daisy Deadhead said...

Merry Christmas to you, Jaelithe!! :)

Jen said...

I feel your pain here, for we're living it right now. Our son is in 3rd grade and it's not.going.well. He doesn't qualify for an IEP because the giftedness and disabilities mask each other. His school also uses RTI, and he hasn't failed enough to be dragged into that system. Sigh...
You posted a picture of a math worksheet. A has to do 100 math problems in 7 minutes. 100 problems squished onto less than an 8 1/2x11 piece of paper. He has vision issues and goes to VT, but because the school won't recognize that with an IEP... His scores on those worksheets are abysmal. *I'd* have a hard time with that, and my vision is normal. And there are many, many other concerns with this school, which is supposedly a gifted and talented focus school. Sure, if achievement=gifted.
We're looking into other options for next year, including homeschooling, private school, and praying the charter school we support gets approved by the state. There's little public school can or will do for him.
Me? My heart breaks every time he cries that he's fine the way he is and he doesn't want to be fixed. I finally heard him, and I'm done trying to smash my square peg into a round hole.

Lemonsweet said...

Jaelithe. I appreciate you sharing your story. You were absolutely right to remove your son from the previous school. By not allowing him IEP they lost a bright and wonderful student. Their loss. He is clearly blooming in his new school; his story is inspiring. You prove that we mothers must follow our intuition, instincts, and our gut. You knew your son better than they did. Now he knows how fun and wonderful learning can be. What a gift!

Unknown said...

You go! I went out of my assigned school 3 times from elementary to high school graduation and my public school experience was great. I ended up in public nerd boarding school which got me a full ride to college and eventually into one of the top public law schools in the US.

Natalie at Mommy on FIre said...

Oh my...What a wonderful account. Thanks for sharing so honestly. I am a former elementary teacher with a special education minor and absolutely KNOW with certainty, that if any school, ANY AT ALL, treats children without compassion whether they be the highest performing or the lowest, you must run. Your child doesn't deserve this and I pray for all of the children in schools like these who do not have parent advocates such as yourself. You did a life-altering thing for your child so kudos to you.

KidBean said...

I just found your blog through a link on Mom-101 ( and am so thrilled I did! This post was so powerful and really hit home with the experiences I have had with my own two children (10 1/2 and almost 7) who are attending public school this year after being homeschooled. Private school is definitely not an option for us, but we certainly may return to homeschooling before public school damages them too much. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle said...

Please, Jaelithe, in the name of all that is holy, look at the PEGS program. It saved us. And don't be afraid to march into any school with the documentation of what giftedness is; what it entails; that it is asynchronous development, that it's exactly, PRECISELY, what your darling son is experiencing, and ohhhh, please, look at the PEGS program. They start with 1st grade and are unbelievably adept at dealing with precisely these issues.

the weirdgirl said...

Isaac sounds like such an amazing kid! Every time you talk about his school it's like my nightmare come to life. My son enters kindergarten next year and I'm hoping for the best... but I'm also preparing to be a bitch on wheels.

I think you should absolutely take/send copies of Isaac's test papers to the principal of his old school! If they treated your son that way they're likely to treat other kids that way. A good slap in the face might wake them up just a little. I feel so frustrated that awareness of SPD is so low, yet it affects so many kids.

You're a wonderful lady and mom. Don't doubt yourself.

Julia said...

Thank you for writing your journey. While I spend a great deal of time writing my life - this is one of the few topics I keep to myself (for reasons I know you understand). Still...

What a fantastic advocate, caring mother and smart woman you are. I have been there and like you, found my way to terra firma. My seven year old is now in private school (which someday will be paid in full by my son's amazing future, I am sure!!!)and I am watching my now first grader finally bloom. The power of making these good choices on behalf of our children is beyond words. You have been exactly who he needs you to be - continue to be fierce and proud. And revel in his growth and progress! Happy new year to you!

scooping it up said...

wow. I just found my blog and this post in unbelieveable. Good for you. Good for Isaac. Thanks for sharing this story. We are our childrens' most important advocate, right?

Barb said...

Bravo for you... I had a much lesser issue with my son ~ no disabilities but teachers who just didn't like him. Fortunately he has had others who have loved and nurtured him but I wish I had known that I could have been much harsher on the teacher that stuck his head in the garbage can!

Lisa said...

You made the right decision. Sounds like he's in the perfect place.

(Seth still writes some of his numbers and letters backwards. And wow, did we work ALOT on all of those gross motor skills in kindergarten. Daily. It was a struggle.) We are going to have to have a talk with the school here soon. Kids do a timed "math minute". They can't go up a level until they answer so many questions in the minute. He knows the answers but he's a slow writer because of the issues. So he's stuck answering "what's 8+8" when he can do far more. (This weekend he corrected me: "No mom, if Pop-pop was born in 1937, that makes him 72 in 2009.")

MDTaz said...

I'm sitting here cheering out loud that you found a school that could give your son the kind of individualized attention to help him thrive.

I'm struck that people who go into the field of education - ostensibly interested in helping young minds develop - can be so resistant to what seems obvious to any mother. I know the environment at many schools isn't ideal, teachers are underpaid and overtaxed, still, choosing this career path has to involve some compassion and passion about helping young people find their talents and express them.

My daughter's music teacher admonished me yesterday, asking me to work with her to manage the fact that she's a bit spacey and in the clouds. i know he's working within an institutional structure, and some level of conformity is required. But it made me very sad. The time she has left to be connected to her imagination is narrowing - I want to stretch it out as long as I can, to let her be who she is, fully, as she tries on the rest of the world.

I'm touched by your advocacy for your son and all I can see is bon courage and I hope your current school remains appropriate and affordable!

Anonymous said...

public education is often, let's say it, dumb, insensitive and illogical. Most painful...those children who are not above average AND/OR have no parent advocating for them. They are in serious trouble.

Katherine of Postpartum Progress said...

I'm sitting here in tears, having just found your blog and this post. My nearly-4-year-old daughter has sensory processing disorder. She's an awesome kid and very smart. But I can see without question her issues with motorplanning and fine motor skills. She has the same difficulties you describe for your son. All the other kids her age are drawing rudimentary pictures, but she can only scribble. She can trace letters or numbers that are dotted lines, but if you ask her to copy it freehand she can't come anywhere close. I worry so much about her starting kindergarten because I have no idea if she'll be able to do these things by then. I will follow your blog with great interest. Thanks for working so hard for your child and paving the way.

Jaelithe said...

Anonymous, I just want to note in response to your comment that public education can also be smart and efficient and good. It can be that and it is that in some places. It wasn't that way in this case. But I DO believe in the value of our public school system, and I think we all need to think about how we can make it better.

It was a very hard decision for me to pull my son out of public school instead of staying and working to make our local school better for everyone. It just came to a point where felt I had to put my role as my child's primary advocate ahead of my desire to help my community, at least temporarily.

But I don't think public schools, in principle, are bad. We just had a bad experience at this one.

Bananastasia said...

Jaelithe, I happened upon your blog tonight after finally giving up on my attempt to get a good night's sleep. After searching through the hits for the term "moms marginalized" on Google, I first came across Momocrats, then read your profile, which led me to your blog. I am excited after reading these past three entries from January, which is a big thing for me because I've never read more than two entries on any blog post before. Seriously. Who has the time, unless you're losing sleep, which I currently am.

This last one on the situation with your son hit home for me. I see a lot of other comments are from parents who have had similar experiences.

My husband and I have two lovely boys, ages 7 and 4. Our 7-yr-old was having terrible trouble growing up, especially when he started kindergarten, but before then as well, since birth, actually. Similar to your son, our son is highly intelligent, but had a handful of behavioral issues that caused him trouble and that his doctors could not pin down for the longest time. After going through a year and a half struggle with his school (two teachers, the principle, school counselor, district behavior consultants and their supervisors) and after going to see mental health specialists and pediatricians and not getting any help from anyone - and worse - being scrutinized all the more so as parents because the focus was so much on our son, I finally insisted that he be seen by a pediatrician dealing with autism, since this was the only thing nobody had looked into yet, and the one thing that I kept coming across in my search for answers. After an eight-month long waiting list and a three-hour long assessment, he was diagnosed on the farthest end of the spectrum, PDD-NOS, which means he has autistic tendencies in behavior and sensory/motor coordination, but otherwise is just like anyone else. This helped our family tremendously because my husband finally had an excuse to stop pushing so hard for him to "act normal" and instead became a more patient and understanding father. Additionally, we were finally able to access behavioral resources in the public school system. Finally, we moved to another state (Minnesota) that has a higher-quality public educational system than where we were (inner-city Vancouver, BC). He's now in second grade and about to be reintigrated back into a mainstream setting because he has outgrown his need for special ed. However, I am anticipating this transition to be another bump in the road and am seriously considering homeschooling.

On top of this, I was searching out the term "moms marginalized" because this has been our third really big move since I became a mother. First Germany, then Canada, now back to the U.S. - but it's not California where I grew up, or Alabama where my husband grew up, so it might as well be another foreign country. I earned a B.A. and an MBA as well as a heftly student loan, and have not worked substantially in the now eight years since having my first son. Every move isolates me more and it has been all the harder to gain a foothold back in my profession. I've finally just given up the full-time job search and am settling on being content with the work I do get from time to time as a freelance editor, and devoting myself - mind- time- everything, to my family. Thank you for sharing about your situation. It is sad to know that this is what ends up happening to families when they encounter the system; a system which is designed to educate some non-existent "mainstream/normal" child. However, it is nice to run into similar families from time to time, to share experiences. We need more of a public discourse on the theory of education, and on what is real, true, and good for our children's developing human minds.