Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ADHD, a year later

A couple weeks ago I was at Costco and happened to check my phone where I keep my lists. I noticed I had a new email. When I saw that it was from Ainsleigh's teacher and the subject was "Ainsleigh's ILP," I got a pit in my stomach (ILP=Individual Literacy Plan; a specialized plan for those who are underperforming - Ainsleigh was placed on it last year, a couple months after the ADHD diagnosis). Ugh. I did not want to read it, figuring it would not be good news and probably result in my overbuying to compensate for my perceived failure as a parent (it totally makes sense, just go with it). But I opened it anyway, and read the following:

Hi Sarah,
I wanted to let you know that I have updated Ainsleigh's ILP for the end of the year. I am absolutely thrilled with the progress she has made!
She came to me reading at a middle of 2nd grade level on the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA Level 24), and she leaves at a DRA Level 38, end-3rd grade! This shows more than a year's growth!
Her reading MAP scores have improved from the 48th percentile to the 54th percentile in the winter. (50th percentile is considered on grade level)
She has grown from the 53th to 60th percentile in STAR reading.

Is it at all surprising that I could barely read the rest of the email because my vision had blurred with tears?

(have I really not posted birthday photos? boo.)
When Ainsleigh came home from school, I wanted to share this with her, but wasn't exactly sure since we've never really talked about ADHD. So I said, "When you were done with second grade, we learned that you weren't reading at the same level as other second graders - you were about half a year behind." At this, her face fell and I could see something like doubt/fear/shame cloud her eyes, so I quickly continued, "So the school has been helping us do extra things like reading groups and I've been having you read extra here at home and I have great news: You're all caught up. In one year you've done a year and a half of work. I cannot even tell you how proud of you I am. I am just so proud!"

At that, she threw herself into my arms. I had teared up as I was telling her this, so she pulled back and looked into my eyes, seeing them shine with pride. "Oh Mommy! I want another hug!" And back into my arms she went.

This is a huge victory for us. I have long since discarded the notion that my child will test into the 99th percentile. Who knew I'd ever celebrate being average? Well, average in book terms. I recognize she is in the 99th percentile for a host of things that are not, and never will be, tested. Instead, I take great satisfaction in knowing we have been presented with a trial, and we are meeting the challenge.

I wanted to share one small thing that another parent brought to my attention. At the end of the school year, the kids get to "buy" things with "money" they have accumulated through...something. A Junior Achievement program? Anyway, Ainsleigh had one of the highest running totals and purchased something that several girls wanted, but did not have enough funds for. Later, the parent in charge saw one of the other girls holding it, and Ainsleigh holding something else. When she asked Ainsleigh about it, worrying that she had been swindled (do we still use that word - I'm using it), Ainsleigh said they had agreed to buy things for each other. This parent was worried that Ainsleigh got the short end of the stick and asked if she was ok. I told her that Ainsleigh had told me the story, but in a different light; that she and this girl decided they would each buy the other something they really wanted, and that this girl she gave the item to was really excited, and that made Ainsleigh happy. One of Ainsleigh's untestable gifts is that she places much value in relationships and having interpersonal experiences. Sometimes this is a source of frustration to me, since she doesn't always place value in things. But I recognize how good her heart is, and how she has genuine compassion for those around her. That parent worried that Ainsleigh was being bullied. Knowing Ainsleigh (and the little girl), I am incredibly proud that she thinks of others and how to make their day happier. I see it with the way she interacts with her brother and sister, and I am glad it extends to friendships. This will serve her well as she gets older.

I have a few more thoughts on this whole process, including what we've done at home and what we will continue to do, but I'll save that for another day. She has come a long way, in a short while. I love this girl so dang much, and celebrating her achievements is one of my greatest joys in motherhood.


Becca said...

Well it certainly sounds like you have a fantastic school, fantastic teacher, and an even more fantastic daughter (well I knew that!). Glad she is all caught up!

Kellie Knapp said...

love, love, love this. GO AINSLEIGH!

Lisa said...

I love this so, so, SO MUCH! I am so glad that she is seeing so much improvement already. Like Becca said, it's proof of how awesome she is, how awesome her teacher is, and how awesome YOU are for working with her at home. The difference of at-home help is all of the difference, in my opinion.

laura said...

Aw, sweet Ainsleigh. So proud of her (and you)!

Anonymous said...

Cute little Ainsleigh. She sat on my lap many times in church when she was a baby and a toddler and a little kid. So adorable.