Day 22: The Twin Factor: An Impossible Decision

Want to read Benji’s Story from the beginning? Click here!

Today’s post picks up where Day 12 left off….

The school year was coming to an end. “Anxious” was one word to describe how I felt–a nice, mild word.
My mind was spinning with questions, day and night: BiggerButton
What will the results of the Child Study reveal?
Will Benji qualify for Special Education Services?
Is Benji going to pass first grade?

That last question tied my gut in knots on a daily basis. When Benji’s teacher finally set up a meeting with us near the end of May, I was jittery with anticipation. But I was dreading the conversation.

In my heart, I think I knew the answer.

I was thankful that the principal joined us for the meeting. She had been a wise and thoughtful advocate for Benji, and for Aaron and me as parents, throughout this whole process.

We sat in tiny plastic chairs beside a kid-sized table. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland–I had fallen down the wrong rabbit hole and was in a strange world, in a situation that felt too big to handle.

We talked a long time about test scores, academic progress, intervention strategies that we tried that year; there were papers, graphs, data analysis.

Usually the talker, I was quiet for most of this meeting, my heart thudding.

Finally, the results:

“We are recommending that he be retained in first grade next year.”

And there it was: The Answer.

…but with a catch.

The principal raised her eyebrows at us, looking over the tops of her glasses. “We don’t do this for many students, but we are going to let you, as the parents, decide whether or not to retain him or promote him to 2nd grade.”

“Because he’s a twin?” Aaron asked.TheTwinFactor

She nodded, “Because he’s a twin.”

Then she added: “I’ve seen some interesting scenarios over the years, with twins. Just a few years ago, we had a twin girls, identical.

“One was struggling and needed to be held back. Then the next school year her sister, who was not struggling the year before, had her worst school year ever. And then she needed to be held back. Really interesting…”

I found my voice. “What do you think it was?”

She pressed her lips together and shook her head slightly. “I’m not sure. But if I was to guess, I would say it was something like…grief.”

The word hovered in the air and I absorbed it, fully, to my  heart and soul.

We had the answer we so desperately wanted–but now we had even more questions, and not just about Benji. 100_4729What about Micah?
If we hold Benji back, what will this mean for his brother?
If we promote Benji to 2nd grade, will he struggle even more to keep up?

What are we going to do?

It felt like an impossible decision.

(Want to know what happened next? Click here)


  1. […] Day 1: You’re here! Welcome. Day 2: When your “normal is not Normal Day 3: Writing the Letter: Pressing for Testing Day 4: How I’m doing Write31Days + My Crazy Life Day 5: Yeah, it didn’t happen Day 6: The Pieces of SPD or How I learned to Hug my Son Day 7: The Day People Stared and I didn’t Care Day 8: The [un]Predictability of SPD: How we’ve learned to Plan for the Crash Day 9: Celebrate Benji and Micah! Day 10: Letting him hide in tiny spaces: Meeting the needs of your SPD child Day 11: Mom, I don’t have any friends: Social Challenges of SPD Day 12: What Getting an IEP really looks like Day 13: [Not] Handling Stress: The emotional toll of the IEP process Day 14: Mental Health Break Day 15: “If you think you’re going through something hard, it’s because you are” Day 16: Celebrate Benji the Bard! Day 17: The Twin Factor: A Special Relationship Day 18: [Not] Benji’s Story…BUT MENG MENU! Day 19: The Twin Factor: Why We Chose Separate Classes Day 20: The Twin Factor: Smarter, Better, and other Ugly Words Day 21: My Insane Week Day 22: The Twin Factor: An Impossible Decision […]

  2. Hilary

    I just found your blog, and I am loving it! I have twin girls who are 3.5 years old, and a baby boy. We have our initial consultation with a neuropsychologist tomorrow for one of my twins. I suspect that she is high functioning on the autism spectrum (along with spd). Your post about the 10 missed signs really hit home for me. Your Benji sounds so much like my Lily. I really loved hearing about the twin factor in your decision to no have Benji repeat first grade. Can I ask how your boys are doing now? Are you happy with your decision? My girls are only in preschool now, but I already feel like I am going to have to make a related decision. The kindergarten cut-off date is the same day as my girls’ birthday. So I can start them in a year and a half when they are barely 5. But I know a lot of people wait an extra year before starting their kids in kindergarten. I feel like my friends think I’m crazy because I’m planning on sending them at 5, rather than waiting a year (just because waiting is such a common practice for kids with summer birthdays). My only fear is that Lily will struggle, and we will be forced to make a decision like yours. They are the youngest kids in their preschool class right now, and their teachers say they fit right in. They don’t even notice anything different about Lily. And my other girl LOVES school so much, I would feel like I was holding her back if I waited. But I definitely want them to stay together. I know we still have a while before we have to decide. But I wanted to ask you… if you could go back and start them both a year later, would you? Or do you feel like everything is working out now? I’m excited to keep reading your blog! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • Hi Hilary! Thanks for reading and for sharing about your girls. My boys birthday is two weeks after the cutoff date for school so they turned 6 very quickly into kindergarten and are “old” for their grade. I am very glad we waited. They did a full day pre-k program when they were 5 and I think that was a great start to their schooling.
      Benji is doing GREAT now! He is in 3rd grade now and getting excellent support with his special education IEP. He just made honor roll (all As and Bs) for the last nine weeks. Micah, Benji’s twin brother, also made the honor roll. I am so proud of both of them! We went out to dinner and to a trampoline park to celebrate.
      I wish you the best of luck as you make the best decisions for your girls. If I was to give you advice, I would tell you to wait for Kindergarten until they are 6 but look into a good pre-school program to give them that academic leg-up.
      I hope your consultation goes well tomorrow!
      Thank you again for reading. I am so glad our story can give you encouragement. <3

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