The Advocate

I have made it no secret that Ryder has some learning difficulties. After years of this continued battle, and some long conversation with doctors and professional, I had submitted a request for a para in public school, because I truly believe that this constant supervision would help. Friday morning, I raced out the door to meet with Ryder’s principal and teachers, to discuss our options, and naturally I was a nervous wreck about the entire situation. According to the Board of Education, there are several factors which qualify for a child for para services, and apparently, Ryder doesn’t meet the criteria, so it appears as if the battle will continue.

While Ryder is making huge strides, he is well below the second grade standards. He is working extremely hard, and yet it’s just not enough. His grades show it, but I have been reluctant to share them with him, for fear of burying his self esteem, even further. The only grades he is aware of are his weekly spelling tests, which he continues to ace, along with his monthly book report. I know he is reading at a lower level than the other kids, but he’s just not there yet. His dyslexia plays a major part of his struggles, even in other subjects like math, where he swaps numbers. All this coupled with attention deficit make all homework assignments, even short ones, a monumental task.

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With a huge class size, 32 students to be exact, two teachers just aren’t enough for him. I explained everything to the principal, including his anxiety when it comes to reading and writing out loud, and still, she denied my request. She suggested usage of an iPad, that way it’ll help when he wants to get out an idea or sentence he won’t be fixated on trying to stay within the lines or writing out a word correctly. His two teachers are so amazing and supportive, but my 25 minute increment meetings just really aren’t helping. I proposed the possibility of leaving him behind this year to start second grade over again, and received mixed messages about that too. Will he ever catch up? Feeling completely defeated, I kept questioning my child’s future at the school, and honestly didn’t really feel there was one. While I don’t want to pull him and switch schools, I really thought the para would help the issue.

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I’ve seen shifts in his friends too. In the past, he was friendly with certain kids and now he doesnt play with them much. For some reason, I can’t help but think it has something to do with the parents. I know this blog is public and occasionally, I feel some of the moms keep their kids away from Ryder because of his learning disabilities; as if they are afraid their child might catch it too. Yes, it’s sad and gross, but I’m completely aware of it and I think it’s really shitty.

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Now, I am left feeling like an utter failure, because I just don’t know how else to help my child. The meeting felt like complete waste, and the only thing they can offer is an iPad, really. Oh wait, and they also suggested we try medication, which I truly feel he is just too young for. So, we’ve been putting this off because Ryder will possibly think he did something wrong and be upset, but it’s time to start looking for another school. One that specializes in dyslexia, which is better suited for him. The road will be long with lengthy applications, and lawyers to retrieve money from the city to pay for the school. And, naturally, these schools are no where near us, so while Siella and Gemma are in two separate schools next year down the street, Ryder will need to trek probably uptown to get the education that he deserves. I wish and pray there was another way, but continuing like this is just not enough and my hands are tied.

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8 thoughts on “The Advocate”

  1. Everything will work out. This is just a minor set back. Yes, maybe it’ll be a trek and a pain to change schools now, but in the long run he’ll have the most success being in an environment where he is appreciated! To the other moms- they can go to hell! You’re an awesome mom doing amazing things for your children. They’re probably just jealous. Hugs to you guys and just positive vibes! xoxo

  2. It really sounds as the school is failing your son, rather than the other way around. Do not agree to anything you aren’t comfortable with. Please look into getting an advocate. I have a good facebook group for Queens Parents that are going through similar things, maybe you can find a Manhattan group?

  3. I’m hoping that it will work out! I would take him to a developmental pediatrician to see if there’s a reason for his pulling back and what may sound like anxiety. Showing that evidence could change the school’s mind. There are so many reassures for kids with disabilities in the city that I’m really shocked an surprised that they’re not willing to help you more. By the way, that’s awful that parents are pulling their kids away from your because of a learning disability. My son is on the autism spectrum and he’s not even two yet and pull their kids away too and we often don’t get invited. But we’ve made a lot of new friends and take it one day at a time.

  4. You are the best “Advocate” your son will ever have. Getting the services Ryder needs will be an up hill battle all the way with the BOE. My pediatrician was extremely helpful, I opted for behavior management classes instead of medication for son, it was weekly for him, monthly for the family. It was a huge commitment, that was worth every minute. We had an IEP created to fit his needs, all testing & most of the class work was oral, questions and answers. Really helped with the Dyslexia. By second grade he was in a successful inclusion class. He chose martial arts for his sport, and the coaches worked closely with us to help keep him on a positive track both mentally and physically.
    I cried and fought for years but we got through. Throughout high school and college I gained strength just seeing him so happy & celebrating important milestones. Jimmy is now all grown up, an electrician, married to a wonderful woman and they just welcomed my beautiful grandson on January 10th.
    You are so dedicated you and Ryder will be a huge success!

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. There’s nothing more heart breaking than sharing your children’s pain. I recently found you on IG after moving to Long Island and just started following your blog, so there may be some background I don’t know. As a former K-2 teacher in NC, MD, and MA, does Ryder have an IEP? Is this a public school? If Ryder has an IEP, which is usually developed with a team at the school, the plan must be followed to ensure his academic success. It is my understanding that a school cannot suggest medicine. How was his dyslexia determined–through the school services or private eval? The way the school is operating does not sound like they are following any kind of plan which would typically be put into place for a child with Ryder’s needs. Also, one of my former parent’s always referred to her child’s “learning differences”, not disabilities, and it was so true! She definitely could learn, just using different modalities!! Finally Ryder might benefit from a tutor that is trained in the Wilson approach to reading. It is highly-structured, repetitive program that really has been beneficial for similar populations. You may be able to find one through your pediatrician or psychologist. You’re just the momma bear your little cub needs!!!

  6. Screw those parents! Ugh that just makes me mad. You are and have always been the best supporter for Ryder. Keep fighting for your son’s education. I know it will lead to the right school and environment for him. xoxo

  7. Hi Brianne,
    You are definitely your child’s best advocate. As a social worker and former pediatric nurse I have advocated for kids at school and attended IEPs which I found very interesting both in how vested the school was in the child but also in how many knowledge gaps there were when it came to the child’s home environment and also the medical aspects that might be related to a child’s needs.
    I think it would really be helpful if you worked with a professional who could sift through the NYC system and set up a planned approach in addition to understanding all the bio-psychosocial, educational needs of Ryder. You may actually need more than one professional for these tasks. If I can be of any help please pm me. Wishing you the best. xo

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