“My Story… ” Monday: A – The Plan for Next Year

(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?, A Well-Rounded Child, Being a Team Player, The Acceptance of Children, Anti-Social?, The Boy Can TALK!, Gifts for Gifted Kids, I Don’t Like You!, Miss K.)


It has been so wonderful to spend these past several months sharing A’s story with you all.  As remarkable as my 24 weeker’s story is, my son’s is also quite intense!


If I’ve done nothing else in telling this tale, I hope I’ve helped open some eyes as to just how broad the category “special ed” really is.  Too many people associate “special ed” with being slow or delayed.  In fact, all “special ed” really means is that a child learns in a way that is not “typical”.  And my A., despite being officially “released” from the special ed label, most certainly learns in atypical ways!


I feel like I’ve told you the bulk of his story, now.  The ends are fairly neatly tied up and I think I’ll leave it at that for the time being.  There may come a time in the future when there is more tale to tell, but I think I’m leaving off at a good spot.

I am often asked, by those who know A’s story, “so, what’s the plan?”  Because, the thing is, with a child like him, it’s not just a matter of moving steadily from grade to grade and calling it good.  Making sure his educational needs are met requires some planning and forethought.  I am very, very fortunate to be a school district that employs someone who helps me with that: Dr. C.


Not all parents of gifted children are lucky enough to have an advocate.  Too often, these children are expected to just “fit the mold” and be “smart kids.”  But, as we’ve talked about a bit here, there truly is a difference between a smart (or “bright” or “intelligent”) child and a gifted child.  One is no better than the other; it’s just a different learning process.


Anyway, I have Dr. C. and I’m very glad.  I recently had the opportunity to chat and brainstorm with her for close to an hour regarding plans for next year.  And here’s the story:


As you know, A. is currently in third grade math.  And that works pretty well.  He’s able to practice some fundamentals and learn a few new things without being in any way overwhelmed.  It’s no real hardship for him to leave his first grade classroom and head for the third grade wing for a little while each afternoon.  But here’s the thing– his school?  Ends with third grade.  Our town has three primary schools, one intermediate, one middle, and one high school.  So, once the children finish third grade, they head halfway across town to fourth grade at the intermediate school.


This does not ordinarily pose any kind of issue.  But, for A., it means he will have two more years in a school where the highest level math offering has been mastered.


Fortunately, I say again, we have Dr. C.  She told me in her soft, sometimes lilting, voice about how she had talked to many, many people in the district about A.  People in the various schools.  People in central office.  People right on up to the superintendant.  And, she happily reported, they all agreed on something.  About once every twenty years, a student comes through the system who is exceptionally, profoundly gifted in mathematics (the last was actually when I was in high school in this town– we had a 5th grader in my calculus class) and, historically, the district is willing to jump through hoops for said student.


And, so, our A. will have a private tutor with teaching certification in math next year.  He will do fourth grade math and geometry four days a week with enrichment activities/problems on the remaining day.  He will continue to be in a class with his second grade peers (something SO important to us) and will get to be his sweet seven-year-old self.  He’ll continue to read at his tested level (he’s reading a couple grades ahead already and moving up rapidly).  Dr. C. and our principal want to find a perfect fit for a classroom teacher.  Part of that will be finding someone experienced with “compacting”– essentially this means not holding a student accountable for practice work in areas in which he has already demonstrated mastery.  A practical example would be this– A. has a tub of sight words he’s supposed to practice every night.  Truthfully?  He’s known how to read and spell these words since preschool.  As a result, I admit I’m very inconsistent about making him go through them.  Nonetheless, he’s gotten perfect scores on every spelling test.  “Compacting” allows a student to spend that time learning new or more in-depth information rather than being forced to spend time on things he already knows.


So there you go.  There’s more to the story… when A. gets to be in fourth grade?  He’ll be doing math online through Johns Hopkins, most likely.  There will probably be more adaptations and concessions made throughout the years.  I can’t really look that far ahead.  People like to tell me about kids who did college coursework at extraordinarily young ages.  Will that be in A’s future?  We just don’t know.


But we do know that we have a plan for next year.  And that feels mighty good.



So, you might wonder, is “My Story… ” Monday going away now?  Nope.  The thing is… at the heart of it, I’m kind of a story-telling blogger. :)  I’ve been told it might be tied to the fact that I’m a youngest child.  Who knows?  But I love to tell a story and traffic patterns tell me that my readers love to read them.  So next week I’ll be kicking off another series of “My Story…”– and, I’ll warn you right now, this one has lots of cliff hangers. ;)

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10 comments to “My Story… ” Monday: A – The Plan for Next Year

  • Thanks for sharing the story of your amazing little (or not so little haha!) boy.

    I don’t do well with cliff hangers. Be prepared for grumpy comments. :)

  • Yay – I can’t wait for G. story (you did say on twitter you’d share her birth story right ;)!). I’m just so astounded at your son. What a remarkable guy! I’ve never in my life read of someone like him. So smart! I think one of the best points though that I’ve read about is his manners – thank you for being great examples and teaching him those. I feel like there’s a lot to be said with some one who has manners like he does.

  • Allison

    I desperately need help with my twice-exceptional daughter.
    She is gifted, but also came into our current school district at age 3 with an autism diagnosis and a story very similar to your son. She had a tracheostomy which is why she did all signs (also a feeding tube until age 4, 8 surgeries and 5 months in NICU from birth defect w/ her jaw, but know about 200 by the same age as your son did, and started reading around that time as well. She has now had a neuropsych evaluation that showed her gifted verbal iq and a psychiatrist that says she has anxiety not autism but her school diagnosis will stay as autism b/c she also has ADHD and has a hard time sitting still/paying attention. Of course part of it is that they have her doing phonics all day long, which she knew at 18 months. the psychologist at the school is awful, the autism team thinks she just has splinter skills and her first grade teacher only sees her disability. Is there any way you could give me a recommendation for someone local to talk to about what to do? I just scheduled an appt w/ Diedre Lovecky who wrote Different Minds, which is a great book. She is mastering 6th grade spelling athome, 4th grade comprhension tests, and has an unbelievable vocabulary, I supplement her a little at home but I know school bores her ot tears. Thanks for any info and for sharing your story!

    • Hi Allison! Your daughter’s story sounds amazing (and complicated) and I’m sure it’s been a very challenging road for you. I’m not sure where you live, so I don’t know how valuable I’d be in suggesting someone local to talk to. If you want to email me your town and state (parentingmiracles @ gmail.com), I could let you know if I have any info for you. I might also suggest that, if you’re on Twitter, you follow the #gtchat hashtag. It’s a group of parents and professional in the gifted and talented community from all over. If I can’t recommend someone, there may be someone on there who has a good suggestion for you. I hope that helps a little bit! Good luck at your appointment– it sounds like a great opportunity to get support and information.

  • I have not commented but really enjoyed reading your sons story. I am a children’s mental health therapist in rural Alabama and truely enjoy seeing you advocate for your child. I believe down here he would still be stuck with his peers in 2nd grade and the Autism diagnosis. Further I have a 10 month old who is already in speech therapy for feeding and we have what I believe to be a very long ride ahead. I’m not sure my kid is going to be gifted but I think she is going to be special needs. Your courage amazes me. I can’t want to start the next set!

    • Thanks so much for commenting, Bridget! I truly am very fortunate to be in a district that has provided me with support and others to help me advocate. It can be a lot of work to ensure special needs children get the support they need and deserve. A. was technically “discharged” from special ed (since, by law, gifted children are not required to receive any special services), but I do have another child who still receives therapies. It can definitely be a long, complicated road. I wish you only the best with your daughter– it already sounds like you have a good grasp of her needs and are willing to seek the help that’s needed. That puts you very much ahead of the game, in my opinion! :)

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