Several months ago my daughter took a Cognitive Abilities Test that said she was in the 20th percentile for everything…meaning she was borderline learning disabled. Her teacher stated, “Well…she has many gifts, academics will not be one of them.” This was shocking to me, it devastated me actually, because…I felt responsible. Silly, I know…but parents feel responsible for everything, our children have our genetics and we spend countless hours raising them, and loving them, and teaching them. As my ex said, “You’re the one with the Masters applying to a PhD program, what happened?” As I looked at him, with tears in my eyes, I simply…walked away, then spent months contemplating what to do. What did this mean? My daughter wanted to be a doctor, how could she be a doctor with this sort of test result? The test said she couldn’t comprehend reading. Would she be made fun of? Would she always be behind? Story after story of fear mongering in my head filled my worrying days and nights. Visions of my child being left behind.
But what kept nagging at me was…
I didn’t see it. I didn’t see a girl with a learning disability; rather the exact opposite. A little girl who was very intuitive and smart. One that enjoyed reading and could carry conversations with adults. She was learning violin and her homework came back with decent scores.
However, schools are excellent at labeling children, and so my daughter was labeled as such, and I began to prepare myself for years of extra educational needs, and potential teasing, and the insecurities that sometimes come with being in the group of children who are in remedial courses.
Inwardly I seethed, labeling a child that early by one test didn’t feel right, nothing felt right about it. It didn’t make sense, this was not the bright little girl I knew who enjoyed watching brain surgery (yes…she really watches youtube videos on brain surgery).
She began the third grade in the public school system this year. The change from the Catholic school was harder on me then her, she embraced the new district. I took all the tests to the teacher, I gave her all the information, met with the school counselor. The school year started, then…nothing. No calls, no notes, no your child is behind. Silence.
She was tested again. I fully expected a phone call. Again…radio silence. If there was a problem, the teacher would have contacted me along with the school counselor.
I have paid attention to her school work. It all comes home with almost no corrections. Then today, my Mom pulled me aside.
“Cindy…the school must have been wrong, look at this.” She pulled out a rather challenging reading comprehension worksheet, every answer was correct with no help from my mother.
I tell this story because a child’s promise and intelligence can absolutely not be quantified by a test. If she had a learning disability or not, that does not matter. And it didn’t to me, what mattered was, I didn’t see what the teacher was telling me. It didn’t resonate one bit. I could have gone with what the test said, and not doubled down on continuing to expose her to higher reading material, the arts, and conversation, science, museums. If she was autistic or truly of lower cognitive ability it didn’t matter to me one bit. Education and learning is our birth right.
If there is one thing I would eradicate in schools, it would be standardized testing…it does absolutely no good, and sorting children by one test is ridiculous. Sorting people any which way is.
Moral of the story…
Do not be afraid, trust your instincts.