There isn’t a kid in the world who hasn’t occasionally wanted to skip school. But children who struggle with learning can grow to dread school so much, that every day becomes a battle to get them there.
Brandy Stephenson* has had days that her 10-year-old son Keith* simply refused to get on the bus. Though he is compassionate, loving, funny and creative, he has severe mood disorders, oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. And “if he doesn’t want to do something, there’s no way in the world I can make him,” says Brandy, who adopted Keith as an infant. He’ll crawl under tables, climb up trees, even bolt out of the house and run off. Rather than get into a screaming match, or even worse, a physical altercation, “I’ve learned I must lay the groundwork so that he’ll want to go to school,” the Southwest mom says. That means first working closely with the school district to find the right program for Keith. “I’m not afraid to switch teachers, or even schools, if I feel his needs are not being met.” He’s currently in a smaller special-education class that he likes, with a staff that understands him and his outbursts. But being 2 years behind in social and academic skills still makes things “extremely challenging,” Brandy says. “I have to be a cheerleader for him every single day. It’s all about accentuating the positive, rather than dwelling on the negative.”