Let’s Pretend Ryan is Typical

For the last week or so, Ryan has been nudged into typical first grade. An aide has been taking him to an inclusion class in the main building for 45 minutes a day for math class.

So far, it’s not going well.

Ryan’s school experience up to this point has been very different. He’s been in a room with no more than seven other kids and with at least three adults at all times. In his regular class each student has his own Individualized Educational Plan and works on his own lessons at a little table with a teacher or aide sitting next to him to keep him on track.

Now, his math class has one teacher and about 20 kids. All the kids sit at their own desks and face the teacher. Mrs. W. talks and the kids are expected to listen.

And among these tidy desks and orderly, forward-facing, listening children, there’s my kid. Scripting away. Reciting the cannon of Mo Willems or his favorite episode of Fraggle Rock, eyes on the ceiling, laughing like a maniac. An aide sits with him and tries to keep him focused on math (and from being a distraction to the other kids). But, as his teacher wrote in his notebook, “We’re going to keep trying. This is going to take patience.”

The bigger problem, as far as I’m concerned, is that while Ryan is getting used to any major transition, he turns inward more and more throughout the day. More scripting at home, more strange behavior, ever harder to get him to visit our world.

And since this math class is not part of Ryan’s IEP, there is no dedicated staff member assigned to take him there every day, so when the school is short-staffed, they just don’t take him. The lack of consistency makes the transition infinitely more difficult. More scripting, more throwing flashlights out the window, more accidents, more grunting instead of speaking.

So next week I have to meet with someone from the Board of Education to work on updating Ryan’s IEP so that the school will have to provide an aide to bring him to math class every day. If this can’t happen, I’d rather sacrifice the educational opportunity of joining the typical kids for math than sacrifice the consistent routine. Ryan can get used to a new routine, but he can’t adapt to a sudden lack of routine.

At Ryan’s current level of distraction, I don’t know how we’re going to get him through Mrs. W’s big typical-kid homework assignment that’s due Monday. He came home with this 13-page “My Book About Me” packet, in which he’s supposed to answer questions like “My birthday is in ____” and draw pictures of his family and his house and his favorite food. I imagine a typical child could bang this out in half an hour, but it could take us that long to get Ryan to focus on writing his name. And this is a child who has yet to answer a “What is your favorite ____” question. Ask him what his favorite animal is, he’ll have no idea what to say. Ask him which of the two objects he’s holding is his favorite, he still won’t answer.

It’s going to be a long weekend.

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Meredith Zolty
My kid is great! And he has PDD-NOS and ADHD (e-i-e-i-o). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch us navigate the world of neurodiversity at
Meredith Zolty


My kid is great! And he has PDD-NOS and ADHD (e-i-e-i-o). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch us navigate the world of neurodiversity at

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