Monday, July 9, 2012

Dear 60 Minutes and Mr. Safer.......

(This is the exact letter that I sent to 60 Minutes this morning in response to their segment which aired on Sunday, July 8, 2012 about withholding a child from Kindergarten.)

Dear 60 Minutes and Mr. Safer:

On Sunday July 8, 2012 I watched your segment by Mr Safer on "Redshirting" in regards to holding children back from Kindergarten until they are the age of 6 and was HORRIBLY DISAPPOINTED.  Over the years, 60 Minutes has developed and maintained a great reputation for giving a fair and unbiased story.  This story in particular was extremely biased towards the typical developing child and the parents who want to give them the upper hand academically and athletically. 
What about the child with a special need? 
I, for one, have decided to hold my son back from Kindergarten this year and have him repeat preschool.  He was born in mid-August. The age cut-off for my particular school district is September 1st.
Starting at the age of 14 months, he suffered from chronic ear infections which in turn affected his hearing which affected his speech.  Although we had PE tubes placed in both ears and began speech therapy, the problem remained.  On top of that, he also has a neurological condition known as CAS:  Childhood Apraxia of Speech as well as a lisp and occasional stutter.  While mild, this condition has impacted his social/emotional skills greatly.  It wasn't until the last 4 months that he has become comfortable within his preschool classroom setting to attempt verbal communication with his peers. 
For months, we were counseled by his current academic team with the pros and cons of withholding and/or sending him on to Kindergarten.  This was not a decision that was made lightly.  In the end, they supported our decision to withhold him from Kindergarten for the 2012-2013 academic year. 
Our decision was not made to make our son the biggest boy or the tallest boy in his class. 
Our decision was not made to make him more popular or to get his driver's license first. 
Our decision was made to give our son the BEST academic, social and emotional chance for success. 
Our goal for our son is to give him a fair chance in school:  To be able to keep up with his peers… To be able to verbally communicate with his peers and teachers without fear. 
Why did you have to focus on sports as one of the main reason for withholding a child from Kindergarten?  Do we really want our children to idolize sports figures and ultimately be like one of them?  If that is the case for some parents, that is sad.  Sports figures today lack the morals and integrity with which we want our children to grow up with and maintain. 
Why didn't you interview a parent (like myself) who is choosing to hold their child back based on a disability?  Why didn't you interview an Early Childhood Education teacher and ask him/her their opinion on children with a speech, language, or other special need being pushed into a Kindergarten program compared to a child who is held back to work on and perfect his/her skills prior to entering a Kindergarten program? 
Sadly, this blatant omission makes your segment biased.  I would hope in the future that all stories are viewed from multiple perspectives and not just what others perceive as the "normal" or "standard" perspective. 
 Thank you for your time.

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  1. Hi5! Pinning you! Sharing on our 'EnjoyHi5Autism' networks. ;

  2. Atta girl! Xoxo heather @mommahopeful

  3. Amen sister! Well written, to-the-point, and factual. I didn't see that particular episode, but I commend you for taking the time to write to them. I don't blame you for holding your son back. I'm so glad that Jake's birthday is Sept. 9 & I don't even have to make that decision. I would be freaking out right now if he was starting Pre-K 4 next month. It's nice that he will be in a class with mainly 3 year olds even though he will be 4 for the entire school year. Take care!

  4. BTW - 'Apraxia Mom' is so appropriate! Thanks for not being ashamed, embarrassed, or inhibited in your 'title'/'theme'/'purpose'. So many Parents of kids with Special Needs(including Adults) do not want to openly talk about, or be identified/associated with their condition/disability. These 'traits' contribute to making the person an individual and 'uniquely different'. "People with disAbilities are Value-ABLE."
    Hi5! Pinning Apraxia Mom! Sharing on our 'EnjoyHi5Autism' networks. ;

  5. I do completely agree with you on this, they should have explored more options/viewpoints around this. While I am still 2 years away from this decision I know I'll be scared to death when this day arrives for my little miracle :) - However on the other side of the coin its practically impossible to get a kid who is gifted academically to begin early. My son whose birthday is Sept 16 turned 5 a mere 16 days past the cutoff and was stuck repeating the VPK program for a second year. (His preschool had moved him into the program a year early because he was bored to tears in the 4 year old class room) - I often came to pick him up and found him reading to his vpk peers. He was so ready for kindergarten and yet got penalized because of his birthday. As a result, he ended up being the top reader in kindergarten last year and aced every test he was given. He missed one question on one math test and he was super upset about it for weeks. (just his personality) - I honestly wish there was a test/evaluation type thing for children entering kindergarten - I feel the age requirement is so detrimental to both special needs (have one of those) and the typical developing children and the gifted ones (like my son). My son will be one of the tallest in his class for a long time, we didn't hold him back and guess what, he isn't athletic AT ALL. HATES sports in fact lol. So just to add that perspective :) - well written letter and I hope you get a response or perhaps they will decide to add to the segment and explore other parenting decisions on redshirting as well.

  6. This is a different scenario than the other kids. This seems perfectly reasonable. The parents of the children on the segment seemed completely deluded and paranoid, except for the one lady that was opposed.