Saturday, September 1, 2007

So You Think My Child Has ADHD?

Jim Gates directed me to this film. And now I have a story to tell:

My wife and I are educators. We've been teaching for 18 years. She is an elementary teacher and I am a high school English teacher. Our oldest son is 8 and he is about to begin second grade at York Avenue Elementary School in North Penn School District.

He is movement on Red Bull; always wanting to ambulate. To him, art is sport. He moves around an easel like a pitcher pacing around a mound. Reading is part stationary, part walk-and-talk. Like a new employee, he literally learns on his feet.

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by the guidance counselor, requesting that we come in for a meeting with the District Coordinator of Special Education. We arrived early.

The theme of the meeting was as predictable as it was infuriating.

"We think he would benefit from medication. Something to keep him focused, on task."
"We want to insure that he has an opportunity for success."

And so I am a teacher. And so I am a parent. And these two tags weave themselves together, forming a twisted mess of emotions. I feel my wife place her right hand atop my left hand.

And now I am Ken, the person I've been far longer than any title I've held: teacher, parent, etc...

And now I speak:

"Everything in life is movement. Every job is movement. On my way to this meeting, I saw construction workers busy at pouring foundation, excavating, and collaborating. I Skyped my friend and learned about the six meetings he had scheduled for today, each one in a different location. I have lessons planned for this upcoming year that require desks to be removed from my classroom. You see, they take up too much room. They limit mobility; mine and my students'. And you bring my wife and I here to tell me that my son needs medication so that he can sit. Train him to sit. Condition him to sit. Drug him to sit. He will not be medicated. He will learn and think and understand. That's what he'll do. So the question is, what will this school do? Learning is movement, so I suggest that this school start moving in a direction that recognizes children for the talents, diversity, and even heartbreak that they bring."

And the meeting ended.

And this story is fiction, foreshadowing at its finest, a glimpse five years into an uncertain future.

1 comment:

Kristin Hokanson said...

Wow Ken--
What a powerful video and interesting post. I have a son who is a mover and a shaker... energetic, impulsive, curious, interested, driven. While he can drift off task he is always driven by what interests him. When he is interested and engaged, he could be described as hyper focused. Could he be mistaken for a child with attentional problems,
absolutely. I wonder how he will be perceived as he gets older...