Betcha Didn't Know
Betcha Didn’t Know are a series of light-hearted posts to teach basic advocacy tips.
Betcha Didn't KnowBETCHA DIDN'T KNOW that Tony Robbins is the answer to all of your child's problems at school! Yes, your child is simply lacking the motivation to do well. When the school has an agenda, whether it is to prevent your child from entering special education, or they need to explain your child's lack of progress in their special education program, motivation is often their reason. It is the great equalizer for schools during negotiations because parents lack the ability to argue the difference between motivation and school problems caused by an underlying disability. However, without a thorough evaluation, including specific tests designed to gauge a child's motivation, there is no way to conclude that motivation is the primary cause. You will find that in pressing the school to explain their motivation theory, they usually have a hard time doing so because they lack the requisite testing to support it.
Do's & Dont'sDo Not: When the school uses motivation as a reason to deny special education to your child, do not accept anecdotal observations or conclusory statements as support for their theory. What appears as motivation to the poorly trained evaluator/educator, can actually be an underlying disability. For instance, a child with a learning disability who does not complete their schoolwork may appear unmotivated, when in reality they cannot understand what is being asked of them; or, a child with depression/anxiety who avoids schoolwork because they lack the emotional capacity to complete it. These children are not choosing to avoid their work, there is an underlying disability preventing them from completing it. In these cases, the school needs to rule-out other causes before coming to the conclusion that your child's difficulties stem from a lack of motivation.
Do: Request scientific evidence that your child's poor school performance is motivation-based. When the school mentions motivation, ask them to define motivation for you in the IEP. Then based on that definition, they need to specifically point to standardized testing, systematic observations, interviews, and work product to support their theory.
It is worth noting that when the school uses motivation as the reason to deny your child special education, but does not complete any testing in that area, you may be entitled to an individualized educational evaluation by an evaluator of your choice.
Now I KnowNOW I KNOW that motivation should be the last, not the first, explanation for my child's struggles in school. However, if you do not pressure the school to explain their position, motivation will often be used to circumvent a deeper look into the underlying causes of your child's issues. Ol' Tony Robbins himself could not have said it better when he stated: successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers!