It can be difficult to raise a child. Although there are many good things that go along with parenthood, there are challenges associated with it as well. That is especially true for those who have children with learning difficulties. We try our best to keep our parenting skills at the highest level possible, but the extra challenges can sometimes make things even more difficult.
One of the worries that many parents of children with learning difficulties have is that their children are going to be well-adjusted and happy. When autism affects a child, the concerns can be even greater. You have to worry about their health and their general welfare without let up. Sometimes it can get to you.
Along with the standard worries that many parents have, the children may also have worries of their own. Going to school can really put pressure on the child as they struggle to fit in with their peers. In addition, the teachers and others in positions of authority may put pressure on the student to get good grades and to excel in school.
For Ben Twist, an 11-year-old boy with autism, a challenge came when he took his SAT exams. He didn’t do well, so his teacher sent a letter home for him and his parents. The parents were understandably nervous when they saw that the letter was there but it ended up touching them in a way they didn’t consider possible.
As you might expect, the mother was anticipating a letter about helping the child to improve his grades. Maybe she was thinking about how they could possibly work harder but the truth behind the letter was something entirely different.
Ben attends the Lansbury Bridge School and Sports College in St. Helens Merseyside. The educators didn’t want to scold Ben’s parents, they wanted to boost his confidence. Although he may have had problems with the SAT, the teacher knew that he needed support more than anything.
It was Ms. Clarkson that sent the letter home with him that day. She knew that he had particular skills and a lot to offer. She wanted to send a reminder to Ben and his parents.
The letter reads:
I am writing you to congratulate you on your attitude and success in completing your end of key stage SATs.
Gil, Lynn, Angela, Steph and Anne have worked so well with you this year and you have made some fabulous progress.
I have written to you and your parents to tell you the results of the tests.
A very important piece of information I want you to understand is that these tests only measure a little bit of you and your abilities. They are important and you have done so well, but Ben Twist is made up of many other skills and talents that we at Lansbury Bridge see and measure in other ways.”
When Ben’s mother read the letter she couldn’t hold back her tears. The letter listed everything that Ben was doing at school in a very positive way. Some of those are not typically measured by the grades that we receive through the educational system.
“Other talents you have that these tests do not measure include: -Your artistic talents, your ability to work in a team, your growing independence, your kindness, your ability to express your opinion, your abilities in sports, your ability to make and keep friends, your ability to discuss and evaluate your own progress, your design and building talents, and your musical ability.
We are so pleased that all of these different talents and abilities make you the special person you are and these are all of the things we measure to reassure us that you are always making progress and continuing to develop as a lovely, bright young man.
Well done Ben, we are very proud of you.
Every teacher is going to have their own style, with many of them try to be positive. Ms. Clarkson goes above and beyond and sets the standard for all other educators. The letter she sent home could have put additional weight on the parents that they didn’t need. She realized that a kind of letter would accomplish much more.
Perhaps we can all take a lesson home from what the teacher did by sending a simple letter. It always helps to be a positive force and to help build confidence, rather than tearing it down.