Several weeks after he started middle school, I received a phone call from my son's teacher. Apparently, my sixth-grade son had bounced up and down so vigorously in his English class that he'd knocked a screw loose from his chair. In the middle of root-word review, his chair had crashed to the floor. His teachers wanted to meet to discuss how to support his moving forward.
My thought was: "Here we go again."
While I couldn't fault teachers for reaching out, as a veteran of such meetings, I felt a knot in my stomach. I was ready to put on my armor to once again defend and advocate for my son until my last breath. This time, though, it wouldn't be necessary.
The Early Years
My son is twice-exceptional, a 2e. This sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? Not only is my child exceptional, he is doubly exceptional. In a school setting, though, "twice exceptional" means being intellectually gifted and having special needs that affect learning — in his case, ADHD, anxiety, and visual-motor processing challenges. His 2e was neither good nor bad. It just described what type of learner he is. It meant that finding the right academic fit would be a long journey.
In preschool, my son often crashed into his classmates, half-sat on their laps, and pushed himself into the middle of groups. He had no patience for tasks requiring fine motor skills, like sharpening a pencil or tying shoes. He loved to play chess and, by age four, played a great game. But playdate invitations were rare.
It was clear that my son needed help, but I wasn't sure what kind of help he needed or how to get it. His principal recommended an IEP, a full-scale evaluation by the school district to determine which types of services, if any, he would qualify for. At the IEP meeting, the district counselor said that our son had made the most insightful comments she'd ever heard from a preschooler. She also said he would not be eligible for services. Our principal, angry that no "shadow" (personal classroom aide) was provided by the school district, told us it was "only a matter of time before he has no friends." I didn't know what to do. Was he a rambunctious little boy who would "grow out of it"? Or did he need interventions to thrive?
I paid for behavioral therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Our son worked hard, but preschool was still a struggle. It was better when we finally moved on to our neighborhood public elementary school, but his twice-exceptionality continued to present challenges.