Imagine that Leonardo da Vinci was a child growing up in contemporary times and school authorities had to determine whether or not he should receive an IEP (Individual Education Plan).  Here’s what it might look like.

Principal:  ”Okay, I think we’re ready to start.  Who wants to get the ball rolling?”‘

School Psychologist:  ”Well, I ran him through some tests, but his attention was all over the place.  He kept looking at a part of the wall in my office where the plaster had fallen off, and said he saw a battleship fighting a dragon.  I’m wondering whether he needs a workup by a psychiatrist to rule out possible psychotic features.”

Learning Disability Specialist:  “I’m concerned that he occasionally writes backwards.  As you probably know, this is a soft sign for neurological dysfunction.”

Classroom Teacher:  “Yes, I’ve seen those reversals in my classroom.  He never seems to get any work done.  He’ll start one thing and then lose interest.  He’s always doodling in the margins of the worksheets I give him.  And when he’s not doing that, he’s looking out the window daydreaming.”

Learning Disability Specialist:  ”I’ve also noticed that in my remediation sessions with him.  He appears to be a good candidate for psychostimulant medication.”

Classroom Teacher:   “Yes!  That would help me SO MUCH!  Last week, we found him in the boiler room with a screw driver.  He said he had a great idea about how to improve the heating duct system in the school.  We had to put him on detention.”

Learning Disability Specialist:  ”He’s falling way behind in reading and most of his other academic subjects, although, his math and science aren’t too bad.  I recommend that we take him out of his art class for more one-on-one remediation to focus on his spelling, handwriting, and phonemic awareness skills.”

Principal:  “That sounds like a great idea.  And can you set up some workable instructional objectives.  I’m concerned that with the Common Core Standards to meet he’s just going to be lost.  And then what’s going to happen to him?  I mean, he can’t exactly make a living by doodling, now, can he?”

Teachers!  Don’t let this happen to the little Leonardos in your classrooms!   Find out as much as you can about their gifts and abilities.  Read my book:  Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life.  

This article was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and

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I’m the author of 20 books including my latest, a novel called Childless, which you can order from Amazon.

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