At an Author’s Retreat hosted by Round Table Companies, I was asked to write a letter to a person who would benefit from reading my book entitled Smart on the Inside. Here’s a letter that I would send to a mother of a fifth grade boy who had just attended her first Special Education conference.
Dear Mrs. Ryan,
I’m the Special Education teacher that you met at the meeting that was held about your son, Stephen. You looked overwhelmed as you walked into that cramped conference room and saw so many professionals sitting around the table. It was probably difficult to comprehend all the information that was shared by the Psychologist, Social Worker, Classroom Teacher, Reading Interventionist, Principal, Nurse, and Special Education Director. You listened to the review of his educational history, the interpretation of his test scores, and recommendations about your son’s needs. After the Psychologist told you that Stephen has a learning disability, I saw the tears in your eyes. Processing all the information may have been confusing. Please contact me if you need clarification about any of the terms or results that you find unclear.
We told you that Stephen is very intelligent. He has excellent math skills especially in problem solving. His oral vocabulary is above average and he has a sophisticated sense of humor. Your son has great empathy for others and makes friends easily. Stephen is dyslexic which means that it is difficult for him to learn to read and spell. Dyslexia is the most common type of learning disability and it affects 5-10% of the population. Specialized reading intervention has proven to be effective for dyslexics. Therefore, you gave me permission to work with him daily to improve his reading and writing skills. The tests showed that he CAN and WILL learn, but maybe not in the same way or at the same rate as the other children.
At the meeting you asked a few questions:
“Will Stephen be able to attend college?”
“Will he be able to get a good job?”
You need to know that your son has the potential to do all those things. He’s a smart kid who just learns differently.
You also asked:
“When will Stephen get out of Special Education?”
A learning disability is a lifelong challenge. There are Special Education classes in junior high school, high school, and college. Each year you will have another meeting with the Special Education team to discuss his progress and decide what services would benefit your son.
Enclosed you will find a copy of an inspirational book that I wrote about a woman, Eileen, who has a learning disability. She had great difficulty learning to read, write, spell, and do math, but now she is the owner-operator of three restaurants. Unfortunately, Eileen did not have the benefit of the interventions that Stephen will have.
By reading her story, you will gain insight into what it feels like to have a learning disability. You will see how important it is for you to guide Stephen to discover his inner talents and believe in himself. The message of the book is that success is possible with hard work and perseverance. With support and appropriate intervention Stephen will achieve. Reading this book will give you hope.
Let’s work together to empower your son to succeed.
Special Education Teacher
Author of Smart on the Inside