Upon struggling with classroom teachers, learning support teachers, deputy principals, principals and Education officials within NSW Government schools, Independent Schools and Catholic school systems in trying to have my children accepted and acknowledged they were in fact smart with learning disabilities (and yes it is possible to be both), I became quite frustrated and annoyed that my children and others like them, are missing out on an education appropriate for their needs.
In the school system these children are both special needs (gifted) and learning support (for their disabilities). These children need their strengths addressed foremost, but they also need to be assisted with their disabilities, strategies put in place that they can use, which will assist them in adjusting for their disabilities. It is difficult for school systems to determine which box to tick, even so it is no excuse to overlook a students needs. Because our kids didn’t attract any funding within the school system, their needs went overlooked and we were told they didn’t need help.
I could not believe that in the 21st century, a school system did not want to learn about these students, even though overseas these students have been known about for well over 30 years.
Overseas schools have been set up for Twice Exceptional/Gifted Children with learning disabilities, so I cannot understand why we are so very far behind. Nor do I understand why teachers are not taught at University that these students exist and they should be helped within the school system. They can and do achieve if given the right type of assistance.
I still really cannot understand how an education system that is there to educate and encourage learning, will not learn themselves and it allows an archaic system to fail these students. Schools may ignore parents, think of them as trouble makers, that parents do not know what they are talking about and they may make it very difficult for parents to access information or school policies. Schools may hide policies telling you that they are being rewritten, not realising their old policies should stay in place until a new policy is produced. So in actual fact they should be handing over the old policy if asked about it – which they don’t. Who are these schools accountable to – it seems no one?
Because of our struggles and not wanting others to go through what we have been through, I decided to set up a website so others can understand that they are not going mad, hope that they don’t feel alone and help them with their children’s needs, not just rely and trust the advice of schools, because all to often their advice is wrong because they just do not/or will not understand twice exceptional children also known as gifted with learning disabilities. That said, there are a few good teachers/schools that do understand, and for the one or two my children have seen I am really greatful to them for seeing my children’s strengths foremost.
School’s are a business, their business is the education of the mass, the middle cohort. They do a great job teaching to the middle of the bell curve, but they don’t do so well helping the top and lower ends of the Bell Curve. This is where funding comes in. Unless your child is funded well its just too bad if you are outside their interpreted guidelines.
Schools may blame you for your child’s issues, they may blame your child, they may tell you your child is unmotivated, may tell you your child is distracted, may tell you your child doesn’t pay attention, that your child is like all other students not to worry, may tell you we don’t see your child like that (even after the medical documents have been given to them) and the best one is that – all children are gifted. This is not the case. One thing you most likely will not hear is that school is the problem for your child. Your psychologist or medical professional may tell you this, but not the school. Schools can do no wrong and do not like to be questioned.
The comments that may be given to you by schools/teachers are sometimes a list of symptoms that the school should be helping you with to help your child, not blaming everyone and everything else. You may even find you may have to go to Human Rights to have your child’s needs acknowledged and for schools to provide reasonable adjustments for them to assist them in the classroom in order to help your child access the curriculum in a way that they learn. Often these adjustments are not difficult to make, and should be provided especially if you have medical recommendations.
Once you have tackled schools with obtaining their disability provisions, you then must apply to BOSTES for the HSC. This can be where can have difficulty, it should not be as hard as they make it out to be. Even if your child has rightfully been receiving disability provisions in the school environment, been medically recommended, BOSTES can and do rip the provision away from your child even though you have medical evidence to back up your childs disability.
Don’t let that stop you from applying for provisions your child needs. You children may not continue their education if they don’t get the provisions now, that they need to help them through school. HSC is only one exam and there are other alternatives.
You may find that it is very difficult navigating a school system anywhere in Australia with a GLD/Twice Exceptional child as educators want to ignore they exist as these children are outside the box and schools really do not know what to do to help them. Schools may choose to ignore parents information and medical assessments that give recommendations to help the child. By law schools should not do this, it is discriminating.
Imagine a business behaving like this……………….
I hope this site will provide some information that I wish I had access to much earlier on, to assist you with finding out what you need to help your children navigate the school system, keep them in school and to allow you to advocate within the school system to have their needs met.
I would love to tell you that schools will receive you with open arms, listen and ask how can we help your child, unfortunately at the moment this does not appear to be case, even less if you have been advocating for your child and school does not like this. You may feel as if you are alienated from your school community for advocating for you child, but don’t give up. Continue on. You only see these teachers/schools for a short time in your child life. Your child’s needs are much more important than the opinions of teachers that do not or do not want to understand your child. There are other alternatives and options.
You must do what is right for your child, not what the education department/schools thinks is easiest and best for your child. These people do not know your child. They have not been with from the delivery room, nor have they seen the milestones, the difficulties your child has and success they have outside the school environment. Often schools/teachers are not even aware of the strengths/abilities your child has, even after you have explained it many times to them.
Hopefully our school and education system will start learning and accept new information, make their school staff accountable and answerable to the community rather than having complaints go no where, until then parents have to keep reading, researching and advocating for our kids. We need our education system to change and be more accepting of all abilities and disabilities as it proclaims to be. For educators to learn about all childrens needs and not pick and chose which “group” they want to help. All students need to be helped.
What I have written here are things I have found out from personal experiences, Internet research, speaking with others, not being afraid to ask questions and joining on line forums such as GLDAustralia and Gifted Families on Yahoo groups. These pages are not professional advice nor are they recommendations. They are just things a parent, community member and advocate has learnt and decided to speak out for those that cannot or have difficulty expressing their needs and being understood. One day someone will have to start taking notice.
One last thing, always trust your gut instinct, it more than likely is true so go with it.