March 27, 2008


Regarding the corollary difficulties faced by special education kids, we have been very lucky.

Over the years, the boys have been to a negligible number of birthday parties and had few play dates. They have hosted or attended zero sleepovers. But they care not one whit. In fact, I don't think they have noticed the lack of social opportunities. They have never complained of loneliness or wished for more friends. They have each other.

Since neither boy has ever been in a mainstream classroom or, in recent years, even been in a school with mainstream children, they have never felt stigmatized. Neither has been teased, bullied or taken advantage of.

So I was taken by surprise yesterday. When Hart showed me his homework, I realized (again) that he had not read the passage or the worksheet instructions. Rather than write definitions of the words, as instructed, he had merely copied the words.

"Hart," I repeated gently, "It's wise to read the directions first. That way you don't waste your time doing it wrong, then erasing." Hart doesn't really care about accuracy; he is most concerned with speed.

After he finished, I encouraged, "See you are smart--you knew what to do." "No, I'm dumb."

The time for a chat about learning differences and abilities if probably long overdue. I just didn't have an answer prepared. I have to think about it.

It is true that Hart has learning disabilities, severe impulsivity and hyperactivity, and social difficulties, but I can say with absolute assurance that he is not "dumb."

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