Whenever people find out I'm a special ed. teacher, they almost always react this way.
"Ohhh." Pause. "You must be very patient. I couldn't do it."
Usually, I'm quite a patient person who only tends to appear frazzled when I fear I may forget something, but this gig has made me grow some major gray hairs.
Here's an example. I have a student who is very capable but is unmedicated for his inability to focus. I can sit two inches from him and look him in the eye and ask him if he understands the assignment and he'll still be miles away and not really see me. At first, I was concerned he was having minor seizures, but apparently not.
We've had a conference with his mother about his laziness coupled with his inability to focus and it's driving us all insane. I watched him today in math class and was glad that I was never like him because I would never have survived in my own school.
The students were told which assignment to do, he had the paper in front of him, he had a sharpened pencil in his hand (not a frequent occurrence), he was ready. He stared at the clean blackboard for about two minutes. He then looked down at his paper. Oh good, I thought. His eyes then dropped lower to the tag hanging off his jeans. He fumbled with it for a little while. He looked at his paper again and put his pencil to it. Yes! I thought. He picked the pencil back up again and inspected the point. He then pulled out a notebook and tore out a page. He pinched it in half and then slowly pressed along the crease. He set it down below his assignment. He looked at it again and moved his pencil to the notebook paper, looking at the first question. He heard a noise behind him and turned around. Bear in mind that he did this all at about the speed of an emaciated sloth with only one arm stuck to a very sticky pole. A good 8 minutes has passed and he'd done fuck all. I began to realize my morbid curiosity wasn't helping.
TeacherLady: Spaceman! You know how to do these, I've already helped you on them. Get started, PLEASE!
Spaceman: Wha..? Oh. Yeah, yeah, I know how to do these.
It usually takes at least four of these prompts to get him to actually start. He always needs more to keep going. I look at my calendar again to see how long until spring break. To heck with spring break, when does the summer holiday start???