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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Spets Shkola and Special Ed

Russian orphans in IrkutskOther than our oldest, who had not yet been shipped off to orphanage boarding school (the Internat, not to be confused with the internet), our other three kids experienced the Russian spets shkola. This would be similar to a special ed school where mentally-challenged and some physically-challenged children were gathered.Russian-orphans2

However, in the Russian orphanage system, these designations often resulted from rather capricious testing. Street children, and those who had experienced trauma and/or neglect, came to these institutions shell-shocked. When quizzed by a system of rather rudimentary questions, children were determined to lack mental proficiency if they were unable to answer basic interrogatories. Exaggerated diagnoses also had the added benefit of more state funding.

orphanAll that to say, some of the kids definitely had experienced brain damage.

Our second son exhibited certain signs of slowness in reading, in responding, in social situations. What was the nature of this developmental delay? Was it fetal alcohol syndrome, in other words, exposure to alcohol in utero via his birth mother? Or could it be from beatings in the orphanage? Neglect and lack of stimulation in his early years?  Oligophrenia, they used to call it there, as in idiot savant… minus the savant part.orphan boys

We petitioned Russia for four years for the right to adopt him. Nyet, nyet, nyet. From the age of eight, when we adopted our first son, to the age of almost twelve, he suffered abuse and once, he was even placed with an elderly woman who treated him as her slave labor. Happily, he had the presence of mind, in whatever limited capacity, to demand he be returned to the Internat.

broadly_1So here we are, years later. We limp along, homeschooling him like the others. He passes his subjects with great effort and our non-stop coaching and tutoring. His father and I have taken him to a neuropsychologist, yet our questions of “Can’t he?” or “Won’t he?” were never conclusively answered. At last, after years of being put off by our local school system, we discover a tiny division of special ed, a team that will meet together to review his situation.

We were not seeking services per se, rather, testing or an evaluation to determine a true baseline of his abilities and any learning disabilities. Little did we know that one would need to approach genius levels to crack the code of obtaining such testing. Learn what happens when we embark down this labyrinthine path….


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