I always feel the need to tell you how personal this blog is going to be. From now on let’s just assume all of mine are super personal. I hate repeating myself. Also, I can’t say the word borderline without singing the Madonna song. So enjoy the 80s nostalgia!

Last year my daughter started struggling in school. It was mostly organizational skills and a lack of motivation. This year it has gotten MUCH worse. I would like to put the blame on Elearning, because it is partially to blame, however it’s not the entire reason.

While looking over her work I noticed her writing skills were terrible. She skips words and barely uses any punctuation. When reading out loud she also skips words and reads as though the punctuation doesn’t exist. Her tone is completely robotic, there’s no fluidity at all.

I brought this up to her doctor and they suggested to go through the school first. Obvious reasons of course—it’s cheaper. They said if the school didn’t think an evaluation for an IEP (Individual Education Plan) was necessary, then seek private help.

So, I began the first step.

Working at the school definitely has its advantages. I emailed the school case manager and set up a meeting with her, the special education teacher, her home room teacher and the school therapist. Prior to the meeting I had a mini impromptu meeting with the special education teacher in her grade level—I work with her daily.

My daughter is twelve and was placed in the gifted program when she was in second grade. She’s currently in sixth grade—just some background info for you readers!

During the impromptu meeting with the sixth grade special education teacher she explained something to me that made so much sense. She said right now my daughter is a “borderline case”. Basically, her symptoms are just starting to show because the material is getting tougher.

Apparently we learn four ways.

1. Visual

2. Auditory

3. Kinesthetic

4. Reading/writing

Prior to sixth grade my daughter was processing information with her “way of learning strengths” instead of utilizing all four ways of learning. She was most likely using only auditory and kinesthetic.

When she was younger the words were smaller syllables, the lessons were more explanatory—plus she is highly intelligent. She was basically manipulating things to work in her favor. Memorizing words and getting guidance from extra instruction. However, now the material is more complicated and it’s more independent, not so instructional. So she’s struggling to keep that manipulative strategy going.

I thought for sure the official scheduled meeting was going to go pretty smoothly and they would definitely set up her evaluation—boy was I wrong.

Here’s the problem. For one she’s in the gifted program. This worked against her because it shows she’s intelligent despite the fact that 14% of kids with learning disabilities are in gifted programs. Personally, I think this rule should change. It is possible to be highly intelligent AND have a learning disability.

The second strike against her was because her standard test scores in the past were high, however the last tests she took came back average. You would think this would be a red flag of some sort? Nope.

Her teacher said she’s completely distracted and cannot focus at all. Another red flag! Her mother—me—has ADHD and it is proven genetic! Also, dyslexia and ADHD are often comorbid. Still, not enough evidence to evaluate her.

Last strike is that she is passing all her classes. However, it’s only because the teachers are literally holding her hand right now. They have to—they look bad if she fails. So they don’t want her to fail and they won’t let her. Without failure she won’t be evaluated.

All of this to me is counterproductive. None of this makes any sense. The public school system would rather just give the student one-thousand chances to hand in barely passing work than to help a child figure out WHY they are struggling and get the evaluation they need and deserve.

Luckily for my child she has me. I’m her advocate, I’m her voice. It also helps that I work for a school and I’m around diverse learners daily. Also, I’m a loudmouth Italian broad.

It makes me think though. What about students like her without mothers like me? Low-income families that can’t afford to go privately for an evaluation. Who’s their voice? Who’s their advocate? They just get pushed through the system because they are a “borderline case”.

Hopefully we can somehow figure out a way to fix this hole in the system.

Stay Squirrely,


Published by squirrleyone

I’m a forty-two year old wife and mother of three humans and one Dalmatian. I was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD in 1994. I graduated from Columbia College in 2001 with a Bachelors Degree in Art. Currently, I work as a paraprofessional and just completed my first middle-grade novel, “Best in Class”.

One thought on “Borderline

  1. Oh boy, this was my field of work until I retired recently so I know what you are talking about. If most of her standard scores were average and she had some scores in the superior (gifted) range, then this should qualify her for an LD designation. It does sound like ADHD should be investigated by a pediatrician first. If that is addressed (usually through medication), then her test scores should be more reflective of her true abilities, but this could take time unfortunately. My best advice would be to try and get a cheaper assessment through a local university psych department that’s running an Master’s in psych practicum program. However, Covid may be throwing a wrench into all of this right now. Best of luck.


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