“My Story…” Monday: A – My Gentle Giant

(You can catch up on A’s story right here: The Pregnancy, The Birth, The Infancy, The Quiet Toddler, Advocating, What He COULD Do, Just A Boy, The (Hard) Next Step, Making a Friend, The Autism DiagnosisHe Talks, Hyperlexia, Your Baby Can Read, Another Evaluation, A New Kind of Special Need, Linear Algebra, The Triennial, The IQ Results, Bye, Bye Autism Diagnosis, Dr. C’s Plan, Second Grade Math, Is it too easy?)


We headed in to our Spring kindergarten conference for A. not really sure what Mrs. S. would tell us.  It had been such a busy year of change for all of us…


A. was no longer receiving any kind of therapies and was, officially, no longer special education.  He had qualified for gifted and talented education, which is why he was being followed by Dr. C.  He had started going to second grade math sometimes.  He had read entire 50+ book series of chapter books.  He had made a good friend (a fellow reader who also loved to jump.)  We continued to supplement and answer questions at home as needed.


It’s just like anything else in life– you just about feel like you’ve got it all figured out and everything’s going smoothly and you find out the game’s changing.


In this case, no one was really changing anything on us.  A. was just going to be moving up to first grade and that meant a whole new teacher, curriculum, and group of kids.  And, if you’ve ever sent a child out into the world to go to school, you know as well as I do just how important it is to have a good “fit”.


Now, when your child is “special ed”, the current teacher almost always makes a recommendation for the next year’s teacher and, pretty much without fail, it is followed.  This is a “perk”, if you will, of being special ed.  I say this totally without judgment or malice because I’ve been down the special ed road twice now.  In my experience, administrators take these recommendations very seriously.


I worried that, since A. no longer had a “special ed” designation, would we just have to take a gamble?  I mean, sure, you can always make suggestions, put in requests, etc.  But, historically, I’ve seen lots of those go unfulfilled, particularly for some of the “best” teachers.  I just wasn’t sure.


Mrs. S. described the kind of teacher with whom she would like to see A. matched– someone kind, upbeat, structured, and nurturing.  It sounded good to me.  I added in a desire for a classroom that wasn’t too “busy”.  My son sees, read, and memorizes every little thing posted in a room– some of those spaces, while imaginative, would just create sensory overload for him.  She concurred.

I’ve described A. as my “gentle giant” before and it really is true.  As smart as he is and as tall as he is, he’s also pretty darn sensitive.  His kindergarten teacher recalled a day when she went to pick the students up from P.E.  The gym teacher commented, “I don’t know, Mrs. S–the girls were all very good today, but I had to correct the boys several times…”  Mrs. S. started down the hall with her class and happened to notice A’s cheeks were very red and he was looking up at the ceiling to keep the tears from spilling over his lower lashes.  She thought he may have been hurt.


“A!  Are you okay?  Did something happen?” she asked him.


He looked down.  He whispered, “I was good, Mrs. S.  I was.  I did what I was supposed to.”


And, thankfully, his sweet kindergarten teacher turned them right back around and called back to the P.E. instructor who, flushing, admitted that, well, in fact, a couple of the boys (including A.) had been very good and obedient for the entire class.


I tell you this because it was important– Mrs. S. felt it was very important.  The bright little guy I’m raising is incredibly intelligent and, quite honestly, his height is helpful because, even at this tender age, it somehow earns him some respect from his peers.  (Not saying that’s right or wrong– but it is what it is.)  But he’s also SO incredibly aware.  While many other children wouldn’t notice a comment like the gym teacher’s, he heard every word.  He soaked it in.  Digested it.  And it broke his heart to be perceived and grouped that way.


We left that conference with not a single clue whose first grade class A. might be in… but confident that Mrs. S. was going to make the best recommendation she could.  I pretty much put all the “first grade stuff” out of my mind.


Until I received an email in early June from Dr. C.


It was entitled, “A’s Math Recommendation.”


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6 comments to “My Story…” Monday: A – My Gentle Giant

  • My older son is a sensitive child and he hears what others say and takes it in, even when he doesn’t seem to be paying attention. How do you work through hurtful things with A – things he might have experienced at school? Do you find time to process things with him after school? Is he able to tell you about things that bother him? I wonder about this because my older son will sometimes burst out with something he’s been brooding over for hours, like a comment a kid or teacher made at church, and we can go over it together and it seems to help him. Since we homeschool, it’s mostly at church that he’s exposed to these kinds of things. (Or course, I can be insensitive at times and he and I are working on how he can handle it if I hurt his feelings – how he can bring it to my attention and let me know what bothered him, etc. so I can apologize and talk things through with him.) I was wondering how he would handle it in school if he ever goes and how I might prepare him for it.

    • A’s face is kind of an open book… so, if it happens here at home or, say, on the bus on his way home, I can always see. I ask and he spills. :) So far, luckily, that “open book” face has worked to our advantage at school, too. He’s a good kid. He really is… I know I’m his mom, but he’s a rule-follower. He behaves. So his teachers up to this point have also been sensitive to his feelings and they’ve been really instrumental in helping to resolve the issues on-the-spot, if possible (as was the case with the PE teacher) or in calling me so I have a heads-up. That open communication is SO critical. I don’t know how anyone can expect their child to get a good education outside the home if he or she isn’t willing to stay involved and in contact. I do also think it’s important, particularly with sensitive kids, to help them learn to distinguish for themselves: “Is this a big deal or a little deal?” Otherwise, they might spend hours brooding or upset over something pretty trivial. I don’t want to undermine genuine feelings, but I do think that’s an important lesson. This is a long response! Did I answer your question at all? :)

  • Thanks, JessieLeigh! Yes, you did. I think your point about teaching him the difference between what is a big deal and a little deal is so important. I need to work on that with my son without minimizing his feelings too much. It’s nice that A’s face is easy to read. Sometimes my son wells up with emotion on the spot, but other times, especially in public, he kind of holds it in and then it overflows later on and I’m trying to figure out what happened and piece the story together. He is really hurt when someone mistakes his intentions, thinking he’s behaving badly when he’s really not meaning to (like when he misunderstands directions). And it can tough to get the story out of him when he’s miserable about something. I’m glad he has such a caring heart though. It’s a real strength in other situations. I’m sure you see that with A, too.

  • Katie

    It’s been fun to see A’s personality develop through this series. I do believe his tender heart will be a great asset to him!

    • Thanks, Katie. Even though there are times I sort of wish he’d sort of “toughen up” about some things, realistically, I’m very happy that he has sensitivity and compassion to go along with that analytical mind of his. :)

  • [...] The IQ Results, Bye, Bye Autism Diagnosis, Dr. C’s Plan, Second Grade Math, Is it too easy?, My Gentle Giant , Third Grade [...]

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