For those of you who don’t know David, he has been “classified” by the school system as Twice Exceptional. Twice Exceptional means that his has a Learning Disability and is Gifted/Talented.
When David was in Kindergarten, he couldn’t hold his pencil properly. He couldn’t cut, ride a bike or tie his shoes. He got services from an OT (Occupational Therapist) and continued to have difficulties. Many of his difficulties involved writing. But the Zion School District (Illinois) did not believe that he had a problem. Especially because his reading ability was off the charts and his vocabulary was amazing for a kid his age. They didn’t believe that he needed help for his “difficulties.”
Of course, not writing well is a problem. And for a kid with David’s intelligence, it was a huge problem. So, after spending much time researching disabilities and talking with professionals, we had his IQ tested. One of the things that we were looking for was a discrepancy between David’s ability and David’s performance – or an area where his IQ showed that he should be functioning at a level that was much higher than he actually was. And we found it. We also got a “diagnosis” of ADHD. David was an active boy, having difficulties focusing and keeping on task. Probably more so than many, but not to the extent of ADHD.
I went with the ADHD diagnosis because it was one that was relatively harmless for David and it meant that he would “qualify” as having a disability that needed to be serviced by the school district.
When Chris was considering applying for the job in Colorado, we looked at the school system. Douglas County Schools had a manual about Twice Exceptional kids on their website and they had a Gifted and Talented program. It was one of the factors in our decision to move from Illinois to Colorado. In Illinois I had to go to mediation to get David continued OT services (I may write more about this in another post). His GT services consisted of having him do more work (not different work) and spending 2 hours a week after school for 2 months working on a LEGO Robotics project. That was it.
When Chris moved to Colorado, David and I started working on his application for the GT program. And Chris moved to a complex that was close to the school. Included in David’s application was his IEP from Illinois and his Neuropsych Testing (which included the IQ testing). I wanted to make sure that if David was accepted into the program, they knew what his challenges were and that those challenges were considered with his application. He was accepted and began in the program in 4th grade.
David’s IEP in Colorado has mainly consisted of organizational and writing support. The organizational support faded away after he showed he was competent in 7th grade (the schools use planners – and David is good at using his). So, he has had some help with writing. By the end of 7th grade, David was getting A’s and B’s in Language Arts, without accommodations or modifications. And this was GT Language Arts. So, when David’s Annual IEP Meeting came around at the beginning of September, he told me that he wanted to be off his IEP.
At the meeting, David spoke about his desire to be off his IEP (except for Mental Health Services – as his anxiety levels can get quite high). The team agreed that David didn’t need the support from SPED any longer.
This is an amazing thing, as most kids with IEPs don’t ever come off of them. They continue to have modifications or accommodations through college. But David worked really hard to learn the components of good writing and he has practiced them. I don’t think that David will ever find writing easy, but he knows that it is an area that he is weak in and has to work at.
The Learning Specialist, Social Worker and David’s Science Teacher all told me that I have done a great job in raising David, that his is an amazing young man. Honestly, though, David deserves much of the credit, for working hard to achieve his goals, for advocating for himself, and for having enough confidence to tell a group of adults what he needs for his education. David usually makes me proud and coming off his IEP is just another thing that I can add to the list of David’s accomplishments. But in case he doesn’t know, here it is, in public – David, I am so very proud of you. I love you very much, my amazing, talented young man.