When we started educational therapy for my son the summer after 2nd grade he had hit the wall. Earlier in the year he had been diagnosed with auditory processing disorder and was receiving pull out resource at school. The resource program was not working and he had shut down emotionally at school. He was 7 years old and had already given up on learning. He was never a behavior problem in class but he just decided he wasn’t going to do any work without someone looking over his shoulder to help him. Although he sat there quietly it was typical off-task behavior. What was worse was that since the teacher was busy trying to teach the other students he would wait until someone would give him the answer. This was usually the teacher, an aide or another student. He just could not follow directions and didn’t understand anything he read.
While he wasn’t causing trouble in school, because the answers were being given to him, he was having major breakdowns at home during homework time. He felt stupid and ended up crying multiple times every day when trying to do his homework because I just could not figure out a way to explain it to him. I tried to be patient but I lost my cool more than a few times just trying to get him to stop crying. Once the crying began it lasted 20 minutes or more and then homework became impossible. The current IEP was not working and it was time to call for an IEP team meeting. At the new IEP, what was offered was more resource, what we ended up with was more resource and a block of educational therapy hours. By the time we got everything worked out it was almost summertime. We decided to use the block of educational therapy to be a mini-summer school.
A major focus of the therapy was going to be reading comprehension and math comprehension. I took him to the first session and spoke with the therapist who had 30 years of experience. The first session pretty much went as expected, my son ended up in tears. He might of ended up in tears, but she stayed calm, talked him down and by the end started teaching him about graphic organizers. Finally, we had the perfect combination, someone that knew how to teach kids with learning disabilities and who wasn’t a push over. I had the later but just didn’t have the ability to teach him. The therapist spent the summer teaching him rules he could follow to break down longer activities into shorter easier to understand steps. Every lesson he cried a little less and learned a little more. He was taught key words to figure out math word problems and how to find the main idea in a chapter book. His confidence grew all summer long. His therapist told me, “Never let anyone tell you he has attention deficit disorder but rather I think he has a deficit of attention.” His coping mechanism when he didn’t understand something was to stop paying attention. He had to learn that it was not okay to shut down and the only way to finish the assignment was to do the work.
When third grade started he was able to also continue educational therapy once a week for two hours. About a month into third grade we held his annual IEP meeting and all of the assessments that had been completed at the end of second grade spoke about his failures and lack of ability to stay focused and on task. His third grade teacher who had only known him a month was shocked by everything she was hearing. Her quote was, “that’s not the kid I have in class”. He was independently completing his own work and following instructions. He still had his academic struggles but he had become a hard worker with the self confidence to know he could figure out the problem if he tried. He finally had the right combination of general education, resource and educational therapy to help him learn.
Third grade just finished and my son had his best academic year of his young educational career. With the help of his educational therapist he was able to write two book reports that would have been impossible the year earlier. He wrote a few sentences about the characters and main idea of each chapter so by the time he got to the end of the book the report was almost done. He just needed to put all those chapter sentences together. The report was not intimidating because he did a little bit each day and he didn’t even realize it. My son will still have many struggles everyday in school but he now has the basic skills and confidence to tackle them one at a time.