my invisible child

“Do you have friends at school?”
“Not really.”
“Are people mean to you?”
“No. I’m kind of invisible at school.”

Cue meeting with teachers. What the teachers and I agree on is that Noah is incredibly bright. Nearly perfect tcap scores bright. There is no gifted program in middle school, but it wouldn’t matter because he isn’t interested in doing extra work. He can’t sit through one assignment without getting up for half a dozen imaginary needs. We are halfway through the first report card period and he has already used up his bathroom passes. He can’t stay focused on a single task without being redirected several times, but he can focus on an advanced reading level book for hours. In fact, he carries dozens of books with him everywhere he goes.

His teachers report what I already know. They are constantly taking books away from him. He has an A average in all but one of his classes. But, if you look at his daily grades you see missing and half done assignments. It looks like he mentally computes how little he can get away with doing. The class without an A average is the one that is primarily writing based. Noah won’t write. He will stare at a paper, scribble through thoughts instead of erasing, doodle instead of writing and plead that he just can’t write. The teachers insist that there is no writing disability.

I tell the teachers about my conversation with Noah and his invisibility. The teachers assure me that Noah has friends. They agree with me that Noah WANTS to be invisible and is trying to make that wish come true. They also have no idea what to do to help Noah. I suspect they think I am over reacting, but alarm bells are ringing in my head. Of all my children, Noah is the most sensitive and compassionate. He is never angry, always loving. He has always seemed fragile to me. He has a serious bleeding disorder and inherited my migraines. Is he protecting himself from stress? Does he need more attention? Does he need a different school? Is he trying to replace Tommy?

7 thoughts on “my invisible child

  1. My son is the same way – but he DOES have severe ADHD and learning disabilities.

    Perhaps he has sensory integration disorder? Something that prevents him from paying attention when he is supposed to sit still and do busywork?

    I know Perrin does much better in class when I send him with a worry stone. It gives him something to fiddle with in one hand while he works with the other. He can listen to his teacher and still be *doing* something with his hands. They also give him sensory breaks so he can get up and move throughout the day. It has helped a LOT.

  2. Another thought – have you considered getting a speech-to-text program so he doesn’t have to physically sit down and write with a pencil and paper? Or tried a pen instead of pencil? Perhaps yellow paper instead of white?

    I’m still new to the blog, and I can’t seem to remember how old Noah is. Maybe these are things you’ve been doing for years…


    We are “the water is getting turned off tomorrow” poor (literally), but are ensuring that our 12-year-old maintain his status as a student there because it’s the best educational/social opportunity he’s been given since 2nd grade at Rocky Hill. The other 4 years there aren’t even worth mentioning. We homeschooled 4th and 5th.

    We don’t eat out (ever), have cable, cell phones, etc. and it’s all a part of what it takes to ‘afford’ the school. He STILL struggles with the academics AND social aspects of the school, but it is worth every sacrafice, and then some.

  4. This does not sound at all uncommon. It is a symptom that he is simply bored by his surroundings. He is not being challenged in school so he is bored.

    My daughter went through a similar period until we moved her to a private school where she was more challenged. It may have been coincidence that once her workload was harder that she excelled more, but I doubt it. There are too many stories similar to hers.

    You say it yourself how, given harder material he can stay focused reading, so it is not ADHD (at least it makes it far less likely.)

  5. Cory has a very timely post on BoingBoing about John Holt’s book “How children fail” I think I’ll buy several copies and sneak one in the administration offices and teacher lounges of each of the children’s schools.

    a book that’s really about how teachers fail students.

    This is the companion book to John Holt’s book on “unschooling” “How Children Learn”

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