Archive for the ‘Parents own words’ Category

Welcome to Anne Lewis’ blog

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Welcome to Teen Help Center and my blog on special schools. If you are interested in the development of special schools, what they do, and how they do it, I hope you will find this site useful.

To begin, you should know that I am an educational consultant. I advise parents whose children will benefit from enrolling in a unique or special school, or from a customized educational program. I’’ve had my educational consulting practice for twenty years, and started it as a result of the search for a school for my own son. The search became a calling and a career change for me.

During the first year of establishing my practice, a father stopped me short and said, ““ANY parent who comes to you has a child with a special need. It doesn’’t matter whether the child is brilliant and the school can’’t keep up, or that the child is floundering. Both are instances of special needs, and you should be able to help both. Find the school that matches the child.”

Students who are both capable and floundering are common in my practice. It was the same situation with my own son twenty years ago. He had shut down. His father and I could not reach him. Despite being bright, he did not want to go to school. He seemed anxious. Some days he seemed hopeless.

We tried tutors. We tried lessons. We tried counselors. We tried the clergy. We tried pediatricians. We tried psychologists. We tried psychiatrists.

In a state of desperation, we took our son on his sixteenth birthday to a new psychiatrist. He interviewed my husband and me and then our son. After a brief talk with him, the psychiatrist called us back into his office and said, ““Your son believes you are too protective. He wants a car for his birthday. It will give him the freedom and separation he needs. You should get him the car.””

We did. If only the car had solved our problems, I would not be writing this today.

There was no simple solution for us, just as there had been no simple beginning. In our case, my husband and I had different parenting styles. Our son, though highly intelligent, had an undiagnosed learning disorder. And deaths in our family rocked the foundation of my belief in the world as I had known it.

Many parents share with me a sense of loss in their own lives. The loss doesn’’t have to be the deaths of children as it was in mine. Parents tell me about losing the dream of the child they had hoped to have and the family they had hoped to create.

Parenthood has been compared to travel. The comparison is apt in that both involve surprises and require an adaptable mindset. A long anticipated trip to Italy may be diverted to Holland. It’s a different experience, but Holland has its own satisfactions.

In our journey, we found a school for our son, but it was not the school we had hoped to find. Fortunately for parents in the year 2014, there are many more schools from which to choose. In the days when I started my practice most kids were seen simply as oppositional. They were viewed as wild horses, who needed to be broken. The schools were set up to confront and change behavior. Now there is a deeper understanding of why kids behave as they do, and current schools can tailor themselves to these changes.

So, in this space you can read my insights into the world of special schools and how they go about helping kids and parents. How can they be better? How do they define success?