Who are the Middle Kids? Special EducationFor parents who have children with moderate learning issues, they are very aware that their children are stuck in the middle. Their kids are not severely disabled or autistic, nor are they typical kids with typical challenges. These kids are stuck between “severe” and “normal” and often forgotten by the schools and ostracized by their peers. With time these kids in the middle will lead normal lives, but getting them there can present a whole host of challenges.

What qualifies as a Middle Kid?

Middle Kids include children with learning, processing and sensory disabilities that can affect school and day-to-day life. Examples could include children with dysgraphic, visual processing disorder or attention problems. They might have a diagnosis of PDD-NOS, which basically means, “we don’t know why he/she is the way he/she is.” They can be autistic-like without real autism, or speech delayed for no apparent reason. They can also be the children diagnosed with ADHD, or children with emotional difficulties. There are a myriad of learning challenges that can effect the kids in the middle.

In many ways these kids appear typical, and their disabilities are often hidden. As a result they are sometimes labeled as defiant or lazy because teachers expect them to act like everybody else so they don’t understand why they “won’t” do their work. These children often suffer emotional side effects of teachers like this, and will grow up feeling stupid or lazy.

How can I get support for my Middle Kid?

Parents of these children know all too well that school services for The Middle Kids have to be fought for in order to be won. Because their child’s challenges are not always obvious or extreme, more effort has to go into proving they should qualify for special education support. These parents know the bureaucracy of school districts better than most parents, and they are exhausted trying to get help for their child.

Both my boys were Middle Kids, and I learned early on that I had to fight hard to prove our case to get them the help they needed. In my work as an advocate, I find these are the kids I work with the most because the parents are having the hardest time getting them support.

If your child is stuck in the middle, then you have to pull up your bootstraps and prepare to do everything in your power to advocate to get support. You need to learn the laws, become an expert on your child’s disability and provide detailed notes on how it effects your child in school. While the school is suppose to help your child qualify, often they say no because they are not seeing significant challenges. It is your job to show them otherwise.

These kids can flourish and grow magnificently if given the right support. Just realize as their parent, you may have to go the extra mile to get that support.

Bonnie Landau
Bonnie Landau
Bonnie Landau is a special education advocate and educational consultant in Ventura County, California. Her goal is to help parents find strategies and solutions to help their children succeed in school and in life. Bonnie is the author of Special Ed Mom Survival Guide: How to Prevail in the Special Education Process and Find Life-long Strategies for You and Your Child.