Monday, November 03, 2008

Perfect Attendance and a Special Education Assessment

As you might imagine, with nine kids at home (seven of whom are in seventh grade or higher) there are nights when our family transportation schedule is more than a bit challenging. This was one of those nights. We have one son in Boy Scouts (which meets at our church, approximately three miles away from our home). We have four other kids who will be involved in winter sports (the orientation meeting for winter sports was tonight). And we have our older daughter who begins driver's education classes tonight. We have two parents with two vehicles (our third vehicle is currently out of commission) needing to head in different directions.

Boy Scout Dominyk (12) was delivered by his PCA to their meeting at 6 PM. Tonight the Scouts ate pizza together and then canvassed the area to sell tickets for their annual Spaghetti Dinner. It was my responsibility to pick up Dominyk after my assigned task.

Claudia cared for the Winter Sports Orientation meeting and getting our daughter Salinda (15) to and front driver's ed.

My assigned task was to accompany Ricardo (14) to his Soccer Banquet.

Ricardo is another of our delightful children. He is an introvert, so he talks little but hears and understands everything, even the subtlest of innuendo or turn of phrase. He has been with us about five years after we met him in Guatemala at the same orphanage where our son Jimmy/Ben (16) grew up. In these years Ricardo has listened a lot and talked little so his English is sparse but quite good. It is still heavily accented in a voice that has always seemed deeper than his stature should allow. He is handsome, athletically gifted and emotionally stable.

And he is learning disabled. From the moment he entered our family's life Claudia and I could tell his academic progress would be halting. It wasn't the language challenges of leaving behind Spanish for English at the age of nine. His math skills are pretty good, and he is quite artistic, but ready has always been a horrendous challenge for him. I am no expert is learning disabilities, but I have had a pretty strong notion for years that he is at the least dyslexic. Because of his transitional international status, the school policy and practice (perhaps this is a widespread practice; I'm not sure) has been to hold off on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for at least five years after a child enters the country. So Ricardo has struggled and waited for years educationally due to this policy. It has now been five years, so this Fall Ricardo will finally have an IEP that will hopefully address his needs.

He is all too aware of his learning challenges, and he is staking his future success on playing soccer. When I ask him what he wants to do when he grows up, what I hear, in his heavily staccato English is: "Dad, I want to play soccer." And a good soccer player he is, but we know he needs to have a better academic foundation if he expects to play soccer beyond high school.

Tonight was the Soccer Banquet, and I sat by my quiet son Ricardo. He knows other players on his team, but evidently doesn't talk much with them either. Tonight's award for Ricardo was a "Perfect Attendance" award. He did not miss a single practice session and his achievement was acknowledged. Of the many other soccer players present tonight, less then ten received a similar award, so I guess it is more than an average expectation kind of award.

I'm not sure what will become of Ricardo. He is in eighth grade this year. He has a lot of academic progress to make. He is a good athlete. He is emotionally healthy. He is an enjoyable kid to have in our home. And tonight we are celebrating his soccer achievement and his impending IEP.

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