Daily Archives: August 28, 2003

Mind Boggling

Today, life at our house reverted to the old routines of school days.  It is good in some ways although I enjoyed the summer vacation freedom from getting kids up in the morning, making sure they have stuff they need before I leave in the morning or the night before, checking up on homework,etc.

For our kids, school brings a wide range of challenges and opportunities.  Some are good at it and others challenged.  You see, several of my children have learning disabilities.  Some we have just recently been made aware of.

Years ago, when we looked forward to having children, we thought that they would likely be of reasonable intelligence. We anticipated that they would like school – well maybe not “like” it but be sort of academically inclined.  After all, we thought we were reasonably intelligent and since we enjoyed our studies we assumed that our kids would be like us.  Shouldn’t they be? 

Well, they turn out to be quite intelligent.  But, some of my kids have learning disabilities.  

Dealing with a learning disability was not a challenge that I ever would have anticipated.  There were only a few recognised learning disablilities like dyslexia and hyperactivity back in the 70’s when our oldest were  born. And, like most young parents who get their kids minus the instruction book, we didn’t have a clue.  We assumed the temper tantrums were bad behaviour.  We assumed the problems with homework were due to insufficient motivation.  We know better now.  We also know that in our family it doesn’t all have to do with heredity.  I think these kids exist in many families – or else we somehow are a magnet for them.

The assessments that are done by educational psychologists now are absolutely amazing.  The body functions in an amazing way – and it is wonderful to study all the intricacies of our tiny constituant parts.  This is right in my area of interest and the functionning of the body I can understand (for the most part).  Even more amazing are the ways our body reacts to agents which cause disease.  Still, the study of the mind and how it works and functions, what can make it disfunction, and how it can be taught to work better, are all so incredible – so mind-boggling! 

We just went through a psychological/educational assessment with one of our kids.  We (my spouse and I) are beginning to recognize the signs of a learning problem earlier. We know that getting help earlier is better than later.  

It was so revealing to be told that this one of our kids has some high level processing disorder where words, by themselves, are understood but put together on a page in a story and the meaning dosen’t connect.  Where numbers by themselves are understood but when put together into problems or equations, the meaning becomes lost.  The connections that bring meaning to groups of words and numbers just isn’t happening. It’s so exactly what we see happening, so exactly what we have been frustrated by.  And if we, who don’t have to live inside this complex situation, see this lack of “getting it” as frustrating – how much more frustrating to be the child trying to figure stuff out.  Working so hard and just not getting things as easily as the rest of us.  And us assuming that the child has an attitude or laziness problem!

Then we were told that these problems can be managed – that there are special strategies that need to be learned.  This kind of understanding of how the mind functions is truely marvelous.  Now I understand why a book will never be a friend to her.  I am sad because books are great friends to me and she will never have that pleasure in the same way I do. 

But then – I can’t dance!  We all have our special gifts.

As a parent of children with special learning challenges, I found this post from The World According to Chuck.  He writes about his Inside -Out Boy.  I thought it was really special – as is his boy – and my kids.

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