We Interrupt your fundraiser to bring you...
..a totally random partial conversation.
by Lincoln Rose
But wait! It's more than that! Drag that man back here before you lose an opportunity to help his son!
I usually don't get caught so off guard by these moments. But I was at a local gay bar, fundraising for an LGBT organization I work with (HeartStrong) that supports LGBT people in religious schools. And then, a concerned father tapped me on the shoulder. He wanted to know what sorts of services we provide to academically struggling students.
HeartStrong doesn't do that. We work to help students experiencing religion-based oppression in religious schools. But something in my gut told me not to tell him that yet. I asked him to keep talking instead.
So he told me. About his son having trouble finishing his schoolwork. He said very many different things that I came to figure meant his son might be learning disabled, like me. And he talked of decisions that he and the school had made. And how they had tried everything for his son, but nothing was working. And now this program that he and the school had decided on was his son's "last hope". He was scared to death his son was going to fail.
I was seeing a pattern here. Not once had he talked about any decisions his son had actually been involved in. So I told him that I was learning disabled also, and lord did his eyes brighten up! Next I asked if they had created a plan for his son with the school system called an IDEA plan.
His very blank look told me no. So I explained that the purpose of the program was to center things around what you could find out worked for your son. And that if the school receives public money, they're required to make accomodations that help him learn in his own way.
Well, that was all he needed to hear! He thanked me profusely, and disappeared into the crowd. Leaving me without a chance to tell him the really important things. The things that I didn't find out until I was in my 30s. Things like:
1) Accomodations in school can make a GPA difference of sometimes as much as 2 points!
2) Knowing that you learn differently and that you're not stupid has a tremendous impact on self-esteem.
3) Learning to figure out what works for him and negotiate with institutions to get the accomodations is a skill he needs to learn now.
The practice he gets in school will follow him out to the workplace. If he is LD, then his future work environments will expect him to make that information known and problem-solve with them around accomodations.
I know his father was scared for him, and he seemed like a really good man. But there was so much more at stake than whether or not his son graduated from a program. How they handled this school issue was going to set a pattern for how things were (or weren't) handled from here on out.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Posted by De Sube at 5/02/2010 03:55:00 PM