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Recently I had the pleasure of meeting a delightful youngster in middle school. He plays sports, argues with his siblings and forgets chores, just like other children his age.  The student was eligible for academic support at his school. He had never “qualified” for specialized instruction before, and his parents were completely surprised when contacted by the district just two days before the start of school! Their child had scored poorly on a test of Reading Comprehension at the end of the previous school year, and the district placed him in an intervention class.

The young man calmly explained that he was getting tips on answering comprehension questions and finding the main idea when reading. His teacher was reviewing the finer points of grammar in his writing, and he found this helpful. He liked the teacher! I was very impressed with his mature explanation; grammar is not typically high on the list of preferred activities for a middle school student. Usually children mention embarrassment at leaving their classroom to get extra help. They often argue with their parents about attending tutoring or a program. But this boy’s attitude was so positive! 

Well, his thoughtful discourse on reading comprehension and grammar originated with his parents. A concern had lurked in the back of their minds for years, because this young man’s performance in school was inconsistent. He always “passed” the standardized reading assessments, but sometimes his scores were at the lower end of average and sometimes scores were much higher. When he read out loud, he skipped words or even whole lines of print! Sometimes he misread directions or changed a critical word.

The boy’s parents presented intervention to him as a unique  “opportunity.” Participating in tutoring/intervention would not be a burden or an embarrassment. They were pleased that he would get more individual attention with a specialist. His parents told him his participation in the intervention class would only be to his benefit as he moved forward in school. The young man explained to me that although he had good grades, the material was only going to get harder, and the extra help now would help him later!

Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues.

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