Friday, April 15, 2005

Opting for exclusion

My daughter just finished her first week in resource room for reading and math. That's something I've been fighting against for a long time, pretty much since she was in fourth grade, but in the end I'm the one who suggested the switch. She was doing great in seventh-grade inclusion, getting decent grades, liked by her teachers, keeping up to the best of her ability. It seemed like my theory of putting her in the most challenging environment possible was working. But of course, I wasn't the one having to live through the most challenging environment possible all day, every day. I've had jobs that were the most challenging environment, and I've quit them. My daughter can't quit; she's a good girl, she does what I say, and she tries to believe me when I tell her she can do it. But her feelings of anxiety and overwhelm-ment kept popping out in headaches and stomachaches and crying jags and teeth grinding and a raging case of negative self-talk. I could tell her she was doing fine until I was blue in the face, but if she couldn't own that feeling herself, pushing her was some kind of torture.

So I asked at her IEP meeting, "Do you think she'd be better off in resource?" I sort of hoped everyone would say, "No! Why would you think that! She's doing so well!" Instead, the response was something along the lines of, "Well, duh!" The decision was made to switch her for the last quarter of this year for some immediate stress relief and to ease her anxiety about next year's classes. She's never been one to enjoy changes in routine, but she jumped at this chance to switch and has been beaming about it most days this week. For the first time in a long time -- maybe ever -- she's noticing that she understands things a little better than some of her classmates. I'll always fear that this means she's in a class that's too easy and without a challenge she'll get lazy and fall back; but I also can't deny that leading the pack instead of struggling along behind it is an empowering feeling she could darn well use. We'll see how it goes.

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