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Need schooling/career advice for son with learning difficulties

Post date: 2020-09-25 03:21:54
Views: 11
My son is struggling with school and I need some help figuring out what his options are going forward. Would really value input from people who have gone through something similar, or their parents, as well as educators and career counsellors.

We need some help figuring out schooling and career options for our son. Sorry that this is so long - really appreciate your help!

My son is 12 and in 7th grade. He has several learning disability diagnoses: ADHD (inattentive, not hyper), dyslexia, and he's on the spectrum for socioemotional stuff (not physical). I mention these labels for relevant background, not because we see him as damaged or broken in any way - he is a very smart and fantastic boy who we cherish.

The school he is in currently is great - small, understanding and very supportive. He has an IEP and has access to assistive technology such as speech to text and text to speech. We are quite happy with the school.

My son is quite good at math - maybe not a whiz but definitely masters concepts quickly and does well. He excels at and is very interested in science - his teacher sometimes asks him to explain scientific concepts to the rest of the class. He is a deep thinker who is good at understanding abstract theory - for example, in 6th grade he did a project on inflation and did a truly excellent job understanding complex economical concepts. He scores in the 97th and above percentiles nationally for math, and even ranges between 80-90th percentile in reading (his comprehension and retention are very good), but it takes him SO long to complete the tests. When we've had him tested over the years, the same picture emerges - he's very smart, but his processing speed is disproportionately low (5th% percentile).

Currently, one of the biggest issues with school is that he struggles A LOT with writing. He is painfully slow at forming letters, so he mostly uses speech to text and sometimes types. Additionally, he is very, very slow at formulating his thoughts (also verbally sometimes, but especially when he has to write), and what he does produce is usually very short. Unfortunately, as he is getting older, he is expected to do more and more writing, and it's becoming clear that he can't really keep up, even with assistive technology, extra time, and supportive teachers and specialists.

When we ask him what he wants to do when he grows up, he usually says engineering. He's not sure what kind - maybe electrical, but who knows. And the thing is, he is absolutely smart enough to be an engineer, and I think it would suit him well.

So I guess my real question is - how do we help him get there? Are there pathways for someone like him to become an engineer, when his writing ability is so sorely lacking that I don't think he's going to be able to do a regular high school, let alone college? And even if he did somehow get an engineering degree, are there jobs that would accommodate his slow processing speed? What else should we be looking into?

Until now, we have taken it as a given that he would attend college. But right now I'm not sure I see how he could get through the non-science/math parts of high school and college to get there. We are lucky enough to live in a place that has a lot of options for high school, including a tech high school that has hands-on programs like carpentry, electrical, automotive and IT. We'll be gathering all the info this year so we can make an informed decision.

Our #1 goal for him is that we want him to find something he'll be happy doing - we don't care much what it is, as long as he will be happy doing it and can eventually support himself with it. If engineering is too much of a stretch, then we'll help him find a trade instead that doesn't require higher education. It just seems like a shame when he has such a first-class scientific mind... But the most important thing is that he finds something he enjoys and is also capable of doing well.

Sorry that this question is a bit rambling. But basically - can you help us think through his school and career path? He is a fantastic guy with a great sense of humor and I think he has a lot to offer the world!
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