Did We Make the Right Decision for Our Son with LD?

By Maryann Vitale

at a glance

A year after moving her son with LD to a private special education school, a parent reflects on her decision to make the transition—and offers advice for others in similar situations

As I sit on the beach watching my children enjoy the freedom of summer, I think back to last year at this time. Derek had just finished a difficult school year, and our due process battle with the school district was just beginning. Now, just one year later, I see Derek in a different light. His maturity, self-confidence, and success in school confirm our commitment to pursue a different educational path for him.

At the end of third grade, we decided to remove Derek from the public school system and place him in a private special education school at the district’s expense. A summer filled with attorney’s meetings and pending court dates resulted in a settlement with the district. I was disappointed in the public school system and the laws in place to protect our children, but relieved that Derek was finally in a position to make progress.

The Payoff

Sending Derek to private school was a huge commitment for the whole family, especially our two younger children. I was lucky to find a friend to share the transportation, but many mornings I left the house at 7 am with three children in tow to face the morning traffic, and returned at 4 pm to face the children’s dreaded homework.

Last September I wondered if it would all be worth it; I soon realized it was. Within weeks I began to see the changes I had hoped for.

Every day Derek completed his homework independently and managed sports during and after school. He began to read in bed at night, and write notes on his own. As his confidence began to grow, he made new friends and was coming home from school content.

Of course there were struggles along the way, but his advisors and teachers helped him advocate for himself, a skill he will undoubtedly find indispensable in the days ahead. I was able to step back and let the teachers and Derek do their job.

A Proud Moment

At the end of the school year I attended an awards ceremony at his school. As I watched him display his work for his family, I felt pride for him. He truly completed his research projects himself, and his face beamed with excitement. He has begun to realize that he can achieve—and he has.

Earlier that evening, as we prepared to leave home he looked up at me and asked, “Mommy, did you ever think this day would come?” “What day?” I answered. “Today, the day I can show you all I can do.” I stopped, held back the tears and said, “I always knew you could do it, and now I can finally see it!”

Derek continues to teach me many things, most of all how lucky I am to have a child with LD. A year later we are closer as a family, and Derek’s struggles are no longer the center of family life. Although there are stressful days and many challenges, I know my son can succeed. It may take longer, and be more difficult, but he can—and will.

My Advice For Parents
  • Don’t give up.
  • Do your best and ask the same of your child.
  • Don’t settle for excuses from the teachers, school system, etc.
  • There are many resources out there; seek them out and find help for you and your child.
  • Take heart in knowing you’re giving him the best gift of all—the chance to succeed.

Managing LD/ADHD • Family & Parenting • Elementary School • Our Journey