I need to tell somebody this

Yesterday, I got some bad news about my daughter. I’ve known for at least the last couple of years or so that my daughter was immature compared to other children her age, but I thought that once school started, she would catch up and everything would be fine. Last week the school called me and told me that they wanted to have a meeting with me about her. So I went to the meeting, where they kindly informed me that in their opinion, my daughter is “mentally impaired” and they wanted to transfer her to another school where they have special education programs for children like her. I sat there in the meeting talking calmly and rationally about all the options, but on the inside I was screaming. I went home and cried my eyes out for hours afterwards, not wanting to believe anything they say, even though I know in my heart that it’s true.

Today, I went over to the other school and saw the classroom and met the principal and the teacher there. They were very nice people. But seeing the other children that are in her class shocked me. There were only six or seven kids in the class, three of which were obviously Down Syndrome children, two more that appeared to have cerebral palsy or something like that, and one other child that was deaf and appeared to be mentally impaired as well. Again, I smiled and nodded, but inside I was screaming uncontrollably, even worse than yesterday. I just got home a little while ago from the meeting and I can’t stop crying. I think I’m going to see if I can find a support group or something in this area because I’m just not coping well with the news.

“Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled with
great ambitions.”

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Hang in there- I just wanted to offer some support. Be sure to get another opinion- perhaps there are other options?
Sorry to hear you’re having a bad time. I’ll be thinking of you and hoping things work out.

Yes, Shadow, by all means find someone else who’s been through this. Someone who can understand.

I won’t tell you not to be upset – only that there is a silver lining lurking in this cloud somewhere, and it may take a little time and a lot of re-adjusting to see it.

In the meantime remember it was the world that changed, not your daughter. You still love her like you always did and she still loves you like she always did.

“If you had manifested fatigue upon noticing that you had been an ass, that would have been logical, that would have been rational; whereas it seems to me that to manifest surprise was to be again an ass.”
Mark Twain
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

I’m sorry, Shadowfox, you’re having to go through this painful stuff. I know from experience that the “bearer’s of bad news” are not always sympathetic or compassionate. I hope, in your case, that they were, though.

I am hoping you will be able to find a support group in your area. And if you need a shoulder to cry on, let me know, I’ve got big shoulders.

Hugs and prayers for your family from me…

Hey Shadow,
You don’t have to let them put your daughter in a special school, at least not in Texas. I figure the laws wherever you are would be similar. If she is not actually mentally retarded (she could be very close) and she is working at her potential then there is nothing that they can do. You as a parent have rights as well as your daughter. She could just be developmentally delayed. In that case they would probably send her to a counselor for an hour or so every couple of days and get her to work on things that the other students already possess. That is what the school counselor is there for in an elementary school setting.

(The joys of doing a practicum in therapy…I am so happy I changed my major so many times.)

Keep at it and voice your concerns to the principal. By the way, if you send me your email address, I can give you phone numbers to call that deal with this issue (or they could forward you onto someone who is able).


Shadow, I see by your profile that you are in Michigan. I don’t know what the laws are there regarding special education, but I’m willing to bet that they are not too far different from here in California, where my husband is a special education teacher for grades 6-8.

You do not say – and it’s none of our business, really – what the problem with your daughter is. However, if she is simply moderately learning impaired she probably does not belong in a classroom of students who are significant impaired, which is what it sounds like you visited. GET ON THE PHONE AND START FINDING OUT EVERYTHING YOU CAN ABOUT WHAT PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE AND WHAT YOUR RIGHTS ARE to have your daughter placed in the highest level possible classroom. Call the district offices, find out about parent groups, talk to other parents of special ed kids, call the teacher’s union and find out what they know.

I will direct my husband’s attention to this thread when he gets home (it’s back to school night tonight, so he probably won’t really see it until tomorrow night), and see if there is anything he can add. But don’t sit and wait, start gathering all the information you can, NOW!

And keep us informed, dear. We care.


A very hard time for you and your family. My heart goes out to you. Please make sure that you get her evaluated by someone OTHER than school personnel.


I happen to have been one of those deaf kids they put in with the others. Now, I don’t consider your comment to be rude. Just remember that in public schools, they put all the ummm ‘special’ kids in the same room. I never thought this was the way to be. But then hey, I did fine, went thru UCSD, got my diploma, and to think I spent years with people I should not have been in the same class with.

Also, of course, get some independent testing done ASAP. Could be something else, ya know?

I can only sit here stunned…you are living and breathing my most secret fear…

My angel frankie is 4, but verbally maybe closer to a young 3, or even a 2. I tell myself he will catch up, but inside, I am afraid. I have never admitted this before, and I dont know why I do now except to say I am pulling for you.

**Everything will work out. As long as she is safe and healthy, the rest is secondary. **

repeat this as many times as needed to restore the balance you need.

Good luck.

Just want to reiterate the point that several others have made - have your daughter tested by a professional independant of the school system. The school authorities have a built in conflict of interest when it comes to evaluating kids. They don’t always get it wrong, but in a significant number of cases they do.

In the big scheme of things, what really matters is that your daughter has the love and suppport of her family - just as she is.

We’re here for you.

Thank you everybody for the support you have given. I am truly thankful for all of it. I was in a state of shock earlier over everything that has happened.

She was tested by the speech therapist, the school psychologist, and a couple of other people whose titles I can’t recall at this moment. Mind you, I agreed to all of this testing in writing a couple of weeks ago because she seemed to be struggling so much. I just didn’t expect the results that we got. She seems to be functioning at a 2 1/2 to 3 year old range in pretty much all categories (speech, language, behavior, fine motor skills, etc). The school she is being transferred to is actually just another one of the elementary schools, they just didn’t have the special ed program at the school she is currently attending.

“Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled with
great ambitions.”

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Don’t despair, Shadowfox. There’s still a lot of investigating to do. Schools often take the path of least resistance. “We can’t teach your child anything. Take her to another school.”

Get your child professionally evaluated. It could be a learning or attention disorder. These things can often be remedied.

Let us know how things turn out. We’re all pulling for you.

Wally Haiku

As others have said, I don’t know the specifics. But I know that my cute little cousin was having some serious learning problems until she was put on a sugar-free diet. Now she’s doing extremely well. It was almost a night and day change. Take your child to a professional in the field and get a second opinion. She may have a developmental problem, but don’t rule out the external causes. But no matter what, keep challenging and stimulating your child to learn. Disabled does not mean unabled.

My heart goes out to you. I’m a mom, too and I know nothing is more precious than that child. My hopes and prayers are with you.
Now I feel I must reiterate what some of the others have said, do not, NOT accept anything the school tells you as gospel. They may mean well, but they mostly don’t want to deal with any thing or any one who might become ‘a problem’ which means take up more time than they want to give. I worked in the public schools for several years and I saw more than one kid shuffled off to special ed who probably did not belong there.
My husband was misdiagnosed as a ‘slow child’ when all he had was dyslexia/dysgraphia so a boy with a 138 IQ spent 10 years in special ed. Get all the opinions you can outside the school, then YOU decide what’s best for your daughter, don’t let them tell you what’s best.
God keep you and yours.

Oh kellibelli… same here! My son is 4 but still struggling with potty training. He is hard to understand when he talks… he didn’t speak or walk until the last possible minute within the “normal” range… and I have this fear inside that something is wrong…

“Cluemobile? You’ve got a pickup…”
OpalCat’s site: http://opalcat.com
The Teeming Millions Homepage: fathom.org/teemingmillions

To reiterate what voltaire said, be sure, when you’re getting her tested, to have a complete physical done as well. A pediatrician may have a very different take on your little girl’s situation.

There are a million variables with kids, and there’s a lot you can do for her, no matter what her level of impairment (if any!) turns out to be. It’s early days yet.

Hang in, God bless, and best of luck to you and your daughter.


O.K. How about A different look at things. I am one of those special students. My mom and dad were told that I was mentaly impaired and needed to go to a special school. I was put in what was called LD/BD. In case your wondering that stands for learning disabled / behavior disabled.
I was in a class with 2 downs kids, 2 kids that we called ( and I’m sorry if this offends but we were young and cruel) droolers, severally mentally handicapped. Also there were 3 students that you wouldn’t have wanted to meet in a dark street. That was were I spent two years of my life. Well my mom fought to get me out of there, I started to do worse then I was doing before. After taking me several places to be tested they found out what was realy wrong with me, I’m Dyslexic. So after spending two years being labled as mentaly impaired, I was put into a special class, in a normal school, and now I am a well adjusted normal ( unless you count the horable spelling- the only real side effect of being dyslexic. I have spell checkers that go…huh?)teaming million.

Bad spellers of the world… UNTIE

In 1960 I was in the second semester of 5th grade. My mother was told by the school officials I was going to need to be sent to some pediatric psychiatric facility in Pasadena (I was living in the Culver City area at the time, some 15 miles to the southwest across the L. A. basin). We moved out of that area, to Culver City proper, and back in a semester later. (It’s a long story.) Anyway, Mom told the people at the school that they would do that over her dead body–and she would keep me at home rather than send me to school and face that situation. (I remained in regular public schools and graduated from Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, CA, 94th in a class of 420.) I have been diagnosed as schizophrenic (that too is a long story), but no actual psychiatrist decided I should be committed anywhere.
The topic starter should have put her foot down–and I hope she did–demanding some hard medical evidence to support these people’s contention about her daughter!

Another voice in the crowd.

I agree that you should not let the school make all the decisions unilaterally. Make sure that you get an outside opinion of just what the specific problem is supposed to be: dyslexia, a different learning disability, a specific physical issue, whatever.

That said, I am among the growing number of parents who are fighting back against excessive “mainstreaming” or “inclusion” programs. Up until the 1970’s, “different” kids were either institutionalized or simply told to stay home. During that decade a number of parents reacted against the self-fullfilling prophesies of the educators and demanded that their kids be given equal opportunities to be with other kids in school. While this was basically a good thing, a number of parents and a few educators went overboard and simply pushed the kids into common classrooms where they failed at school and were tormented by their classmates.

The most recent “movement” is to try to find some balance between letting the kids associate with kids their own ages while making sure that they actually learn enough to survive in the real world after graduation.

My daughter is a “special needs” kid and we spend a good deal of effort trying to work out her program with the local school district. The best balance seems to be a program where she takes reading, math, social studies, and science in special settings while she takes art, music, phys. ed., computer training, and health with other kids her age. (She’s a 12-year-old sixth grader.)

Don’t let the school railroad your daughter into a classroom where the only kids she sees have problems. However, also remember that putting her into a common classroom with a sink-or-swim approach will set her up for failure in school and abuse from her classmates.

I know that it’s really frightening worrying about how your child will grow up with any sort of disadvantages. Don’t worry about “coping” at this point. Focus on finding out the best program to help your daughter succeed. When you have a program and a routine (and a support group), the coping will develop from there. As with many things, it is often one day at a time.


Opal and Kelli, I want to tell you about my best friend. He is one of the smartest people I know; was 4.0 at an excellent college, where he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He was accepted at Berkeley and Stanford law schools, but chose to go to UCLA in order to live at home and save money. He was Order of the Coif at UCLA. He’s also a heck of a nice guy, well-adjusted, and even though we are not actually blood relatives my kids call him “Uncle Larry” and he has in fact written them in to his will.

And he didn’t talk until he was four years old. No need for special ed, counselling, etc. Just on the outside of the normal curve.

Sweeties, let tomorrow’s troubles be tomorrow’s troubles. “Sufficient unto each day” is its own trouble, and all that good stuff. Odds are your kids have no learning problems, and if they do they can and will be dealt with in good time. You two are both intelligent and up-to-date moms, and should it happen, you will be on top of things and able to make the best decisions. {{{{{Opal and Kelli}}}}}