I met my son’s teacher this afternoon, protocol after the first trimester report card. Armed with notebook, occupational therapy evaluation/recommendations, last year’s copy of the IAP (individualized adapted program), and a little lipstick so I wouldn’t look too dowdy, I strategically prepared myself for battle while at the same time steeling myself for bad news.
Except there wasn’t any. None. Nada. Not one iota of negativity. Not even a recommendation.
The report card had been sent electronically earlier in the day and as I hadn’t seen it yet, the teacher obliged me by pulling out a binder and showing me his marks and then comparing them to last year’s. Apart from “arts plastiques”, phys-ed and French, everything in his grade five report card was above average. I’m talking 80s and 90s. And even at 75%, his mark in French was only 1% below the class average. Not too shabby for an anglophone kid with issues!
She explained that it was perfectly normal for there to be an adjustment period in grade five. It is a huge leap from the previous cycle, not only in academic terms but also with respect to the level of autonomy expected of the students. After a slow start out the gate in September and plenty of angst thorough October, my son has adapted to these new demands so well that the teacher considers him to be a top student.
But how is this possible? He has struggled so much in the past and has needed so much support.
According to Madame Diane, he is using strategies learned via the various resources we have consulted since he was three and a half years old. Namely, occupational therapy and private tutoring. She believes that kids who are diagnosed early and receive subsequent intervention cope better later on when the going gets tough(er) because these strategies are already in place. Not to mention they are used to working very hard. Lord knows, he works hard. Nothing comes easily. Everything is uphill. He is striving and as a result, he is thriving.
The best part is the teacher acknowledges this. She suggested that with his positive and enthusiastic approach to learning, he might even do well in the Excellence Program in high school. Not in an elite private school, mind you, but rather the local high school we are zoned for. His marks have caught up and he is certainly used to hard work. Why the hell not?
I admit it, I was floored. And totally unprepared to let go of the bleak canvas I had painted of his academic future. Now I am replacing it, albeit cautiously, with all sorts of possibilities.
Let me make very clear that the issues have not disappeared. He still has DCD. He will still struggle at times. And he will likely always need some sort of support to cope with various challenges as they arise. But in the meantime, afters years and years of hard work and interventions, it is finally pay day and we are celebrating. Hurrah!
I want to acknowledge everyone who played a part in today’s success story. Our main resource has been the Buds in Bloom team: interventionists Jessica and Anne, who helped so much in the early days, way before we had a diagnosis; Jeff, officially an OT now, who has been a major player in Sean’s improvement in the past two years and knows all about Pokéman cards; and of course our champion, Michele Hébèrt, founder of Buds in Bloom, for her unwavering support and advocacy over the past seven years. I am also grateful to the gifted teachers at Lansdowne West, a private tutoring resource we have used for going on four years now. And to all the other people in our little village: friends, family, and special people in Sean’s life, who have kept the faith even when I didn’t, thank you. I love you all.
I won’t gloss over this part. It has cost me a lot of money to access this support. Thousands and thousands of dollars. And this financial sacrifice has taken its toll, particularly on my wardrobe. Still, I would do it all over again to reach this point. Early intervention is key. If you have concerns about your children, seek out resources, pay if you have to. Your closet will forgive you and hopefully, one day, your child will thank you.