Every parent or grandparent wants their young ones to succeed in school. From getting good grades to getting even better friends, it warms the heart when that “perfect student” flies through school with flying colors. Reality is, more often than not, students struggle a lot throughout their studies.
Fortunately or unfortunately, a student’s “success” usually depends on their ability to regurgitate facts and perform within a certain amount of time. When you throw a learning disability into the mix, the challenges become even greater.
This isn’t to say that academics are not important, but they should by no means a young boy or girl’s success. And today’s story about Ben Twist is proof!
Meet Ben Twist, an 11-Year-Old Boy with Autism
Ben Twist, who attends Lansbury Bridge School & Sports College recently failed his SAT exams. Although he did his best, he did not expect to receive a failing grade. Being in a school setting may already be nerve-racking enough or cause anxiety for Ben. But there isn’t necessarily a cookie-cutter way to remedy this issue, especially for kids with autism.
“There are no major clinical trials or proven protocols to guide patients, families, or doctors as to which medications work best, for which symptoms, and in which patients with autism. In fact, no anxiety medication or therapy for children with autism meets the American Psychological Association guidelines for effectiveness.” (1,2)
Reading that is definitely a cause for concern. However, Ben’s teacher Ruth Clarkson’s response will blow you away. She could have ridiculed him for failing, told him to try harder, or simply moved past it and told him to try again next time.
She did so much more…
Clarkson recognized that Ben needed more than a “nice try.” So, she wrote a letter that Ben took home to show his mother, Gail.
In tears. A letter to my 11 yr old autistic son from his school. “These tests only measure a little bit of you” pic.twitter.com/e9OPECidxX
— Gail Twist🐝 (@gailtwist) July 9, 2016
Seeking the Silver Lining
I am writing you to congratulate you on your attitude and success in completing your end of key stage SATs.
Gil, Lynn, Angela, Steph and Anne have worked so well with you this year and you have made some fabulous progress.
I have written to you and your parents to tell you the results of the tests.
A very important piece of information I want you to understand is that these tests only measure a little bit of you and your abilities. They are important and you have done so well, but ben twist is made up of many other skills and talents that we at Lansbury bridge see and measure in other ways.
Other talents you have that these [tests] do not measure include:
- Your artistic talents
- Your ability to work in a team
- Your growing independence
- Your kindness
- Your ability to express your opinion
- Your abilities in sport
- Your ability to make and keep friends
- Your ability to discuss and evaluate your own progress
- Your design and building talents
- Your musical ability
We are so pleased that all of these different talents and abilities make you the special person you are and these are all of the things we measure to reassure us that you are always making progress and continuing to develop as a lovely bright young man.
Well done Ben, we are very proud of you.
Mrs. Clarkson” (3)
Reading this letter reduced Gail to tears. Many parents probably would have expected a more negative letter, citing all the ways in which their kid should have and could have gotten better grades. Instead, Clarkson highlighted what was more important than a grade – her student’s character.
And as long as Ben and all of her other students are growing into bright young students with big hearts who are always improving, then that’s all that matters.