Thursday, February 28, 2013

He's not a number

I often wonder if other parents with children on the spectrum - or with some form of learning disability - feel that gut wrenching awfulness whenever they get some form of test results on their child. The kind of tests that are not medical in nature, almost always coming from school. "Intelligence" tests, benchmark tests, report cards, other comprehensive evaluations...

With the exception of report cards, I think I've always had that sick feeling. That feeling of "so this is where you want to place him in the scheme of things?" No matter how many of those pieces of paper come into my house, it's punching me in my gut.

It shouldn't; it really shouldn't. Morgan is not some "well below level" on a piece of paper. He's an intelligent kid and anyone who spends time with him knows this. So what if standardized tests are not his thing? They aren't good for a lot of kiddos, neuro typically inclined or otherwise, right? So, why does this crap even matter?

I suppose it matters and upsets me because I know that someone, somewhere, is going to see my kid's score and think he's "less than" when I know good and damned well he's not. Someone, somewhere, might think that he's not capable of doing something when his teachers and I know that's not true. Someone, somewhere, might think that my completely wonderful boy doesn't deserve respect for what he's accomplishing because he didn't nail a test.

This morning I've been pouring over Morgan's IEP and the rest of his file. Every test result is in it. Every single upset in an IEP is there, peeking out. Every fight I can remember. None of those papers are representative of my child.

Maybe it's because I've been on guard for the last seven years of his life that things like this matter. I've wanted to protect him even more ever since a playground mom told me "You know, your kid ain't right." Yes, stupid people shouldn't get to me, but I have a fiery temper and she was one of many since then that could not see there is nothing wrong with Morgan wanting to sift sand through his fingers repeatedly to calm himself (it's better than what her kid was doing- snark), or peep like a train, or play by himself, or (now) introduce himself and tell someone they're pretty. 

Maybe I'm selfish and just want him to prove the jerks, the so-called "experts" wrong. My psych books would tell me I'm projecting my fears and I know I am. I keep everything hidden from Morgan because I know very well what it's like to have someone tell you your best is not good enough. His best will always be good enough for us. It's the system that is not.

There are a lot of maybes. There are a lot of asinine statements I can make to myself or that others can make for me.

At the end of the day, though, Morgan's not a number any more than any other child. His intelligence, hard work, and dedication cannot be measured on paper. He works harder than any other child I know and seems to be happy. He loves school. He loves learning.

I won't ruin that for him or allow anyone else to do so. He's a child, not a number.


  1. I can't believe that someone would think that sifting sand through his fingers repeatedly was odd. Even as an adult, I find this to be calming when I have opportunity to do it. Also, there's nothing odd about him wanting to play by himself when other children are around. I did this all the time as a child, both at home and at school. Your Morgan seem like a very normal, intelligent little boy to anyone who takes the time to look at him. I can see that from the many posts I've read about him. I am not a parent, but I have a B.S. Degree in Child Development with 20 years of classroom experience working with young children. Like you, I greatly dislike standardized tests because they do not give an accurate picture of who your child is or what his abilities are. As I said before, follow your instincts as a mother and do what you know is right for Morgan, regardless of what his tests say. Morgan is a real child, a very special and sweet child. He cannot be defined by a number on a piece of paper. Continue to do what you're doing and don't let the numbers bother you.

  2. "His best will always be good enough for us." Absolutely!