Deborah Phelps' third baby and only son was larger than life from Day 1 — 9 pounds, 6 ounces and 23 inches long. As a little boy, said the mother, he asked 25 zillion questions, always wanting to be the center of attention. If he wasn’t zooming by on his big-wheel tricycle, he was swinging past on the monkey bars.
Starting with preschool, teachers complained: Michael couldn’t stay quiet at quiet time, Michael wouldn’t sit at circle time, Michael didn’t keep his hands to himself, Michael was giggling and laughing and nudging kids for attention.
As he entered public school, he displayed what his teachers called “immature” behavior. “In kindergarten I was told by his teacher, ‘Michael can’t sit still, Michael can’t be quiet, Michael can’t focus,'” recalled Ms. Phelps, who was herself a teacher for 22 years. The family had recently moved, and she felt Michael might be frustrated because the kindergarten curriculum he was getting in the new district was similar to the pre-K curriculum in their old district.
“I said, maybe he’s bored,” Ms. Phelps recalled saying to his teacher. “Her comment to me — ‘Oh, he’s not gifted.’ I told her I didn’t say that, and she didn’t like that much. I was a teacher myself so I didn’t challenge her, I just said, ‘What are you going to do to help him?’ ”
In the elementary grades at their suburban Baltimore school, Ms. Phelps said, Michael excelled in things he loved — gym and hands-on lessons, like science experiments. “He read on time, but didn’t like to read,” she said. “So I gave him the Baltimore Sun sports pages, even if he just read the pictures and captions.”
She will never forget one teacher’s comment: “This woman says to me, ‘Your son will never be able to focus on anything.’ ”
(Read the complete article by Michael Winerip in the New York Times, 8/8/08)
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Posted by Austin Fleming at 5:46 PM