Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pulling My Head Out Of My A...The Sand

Sometimes, I'm guilty of ignoring things just because I don't have the strength or the energy to deal with them.

I call it the "ostrich defense".

When Diminutive One was diagnosed with ADHD, I of course, did a plethora of research. And his therapist was a wonderful source of information and support. What I learned was that learning disabilities like these rarely exist in a vacuum. They are almost always accompanied by other disorders, such as anxiety and depression, processing disorders, OCD, ODD...there is a laundry list of conditions that are often co-morbid.

But I thought that we needed to deal with one thing at a time. I also didn't want to slap labels on my child willy nilly. Most of all, I didn't want to borrow trouble.

The ADHD was obvious. It made sense. And though I struggled with the diagnosis at first, once he began drug and behavior therapy, it became clear that our decision to medicate was the right one.

He responded remarkably well. His grades came up, and he began to think of himself as a "smart" kid. His self confidence slowly emerged. As his anxiety abated, so did his tendency to get physically ill at the thought of going to school.

Things were definitely looking up. And so, I was lulled into a false sense of security.

But it has become increasingly clear over the last year or so, that there is still something drastically wrong.

He just doesn't get certain things.

He seems completely incapable of making connections that we all make without any conscious thought. He can't seem to understand the repercussions of his own behavior. He can't seem to process the information he is given and apply it, no matter how many times he is told. He does not pick up on social cues; body language, tone of voice, facial expressions.

As a result, he is constantly in trouble. People are constantly annoyed with him. He has few friends. And he is completely and totally oblivious as to why. He is surprised when consequences are imposed. He is confused and upset when people get angry with him.

I know that's hard for someone with a neurotypical child to understand.'s hard for ME to understand. For a long time, I attributed his behavior to his instransigant nature. He's extremely strong willed and always has been.

But no kid wants to be in trouble all the time. No kid wants to be ostracized. No kid wants to have people constantly irritated with him.

The thing is, that he really wants to behave. He just can't.

And that has been very hard to understand, much less accept. He is AMAZINGLY smart. And it's difficult to believe that he can't comprehend simple cause and effect. It's very easy to fall into the trap of believing that if he just tried a little harder....

But things have come to a point where I am forced to face reality.

Giftedness, I've learned, often comes with a price. When the brain excels in one area, there are often deficits in another.

Haven't we all heard the stories, seen the news segments, read the articles? There are people out there of exceptional intelligence who can't remember to change their underwear or brush their teeth. There are people who can solve theorems in their sleep, but can't hold a conversation with another person.

Diminutive One goes to Middle School next year. And I've got to get this figured out before then or they will eat him alive.

That's a thought that hurts me.

Because I've been hanging around the Middle School a lot lately. And let me tell bad as we all remember it, the reality is even worse. Those kids are fucking brutal.

I worry, you see, that he will end up in a black trench coat at the top of a clock tower, taking aim at those who have wronged him with calculated fury.

You know, I would trade his intelligence, his ingenuity, his creativity...all of it...for the ability to make and keep friends. To navigate life easily. To be comfortable in his own skin.

Because sometimes the price is just too high.

And normal? Is much less expensive.


  • At 9:27 AM, Blogger All Things BD said…

    I really identify with this post, though our issues are on a smaller scale. My eldest daughter is on ADD medication, yet there are still things going on with her that I'm glossing over, chalking up to her age. It can't last. It's the same thing you're saying: Why don't you GET IT? We've explained and explained, and it's not sinking in. I'll be looking to see what steps you take next.

  • At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you know i so get this. i hope my post today gives you some hope...

  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger Middle Girl said…

    I wish I had pearls of wisdom to offer, nuggets of knowledge...all I have is, my thoughts are with you and your family.

    Peace be with you all.

  • At 10:41 AM, Blogger Girlplustwo said…

    i have nothing of practical substance to offer save that as i read this it strikes me that if anyone can deal with this it is you, and while that may come with a price, he is so very lucky because you are his mama.

  • At 11:16 AM, Blogger Syar said…

    You probably have already googled this, but it sounds like asperger's syndrome. There seems to be a label for everything these days, but that super smart with social disconnection could be a sign.

  • At 11:17 AM, Blogger Shelley Jaffe said…

    How many times have I wished and prayed for simple,happy kids? I've lost track. You are so correct - the "gifted" label comes at a high price - it's not as precious as people tend to so quickly believe.

    I guess that the trick is to really work on the social aspect/life skills/coping mechanisms; the academic will sort itself out - it always does.

  • At 11:27 AM, Blogger Reticent Writer said…

    My son is the same way and was diagnosed this fall with Asperger's. He is in 7th grade and let me tell you, it has only gotten worse since he got to middle school. Sadly the symptoms got worse in the last year. He is now in group therapy with other kids with Aspergers where he is learning social skills. Simple things like saying hello or good-bye to someone totally escapes him.

  • At 12:51 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Reticent Writer's suggestion of a social skills group is a good one... but.... if what is going on is what you and I THINK is going on, even with a social skills group, he's just not going to get a lot of the communication around him.

    Some hints: Parroting. Parroting. More Parroting. You say something. You ask him if he understands. He ways "yes" because he THINKS he understands or he says "NO" because he knows he didn't understand. The result is the same. You repeat the instruction and then ask him to repeat it back. Then you can literally SEE what he's missed and what he's gotten. You go over it again. You tell him the instruction, emphasizing what he's missed. You have him parrot it back. You can even have him write it down. When you and he agree that you have said the same thing, then he can go off and do it.

    This is what teachers need to do, too.

    As for the whole annnoying thing, one thing that helped us a lot (albeit a bit cruel) is to videotape behavior. Run a video camera for a day and then go over it like SuperNanny (where I got the idea) and talk about EACH instance where behavior had a direct effect on someone else. Poking? Look at the face of the person he poked. Show him the facial cues. He is missing them.

    Ask him often to look at your face and try to determine how you are feeling. You might be furious and he's missed that totally. Tell him what your face is saying. Over and over again. Go thru magazines and books and look at faces. Talk about them.

    On there is a mailing list called GTspecial for parents of GT/LD kids. YOu are NOT alone, of course, but they might be able to offer you tips on how to deal with certain situations.

    The nonverbal stuff is so tiring. Last night I thought of you when I was helping my kid with her homework. She was doing this inane project on Gen. McClellen's Penninsula Campaign and she could NOT understand what it was about. I went over and over and over it until I was about to cry and then she finally gave me a clue. It was the word Campaign. She thought he was running for office. She didn't know why all this WAR stuff was involved. Simple word. One freaking word. TOTALLY missed the whole point. GAH!

  • At 1:10 PM, Blogger jean said…

    Middle school is horrible. My son is there now and it is frightening how cruel they are. I wish they did away with middle schools and instead had smaller K - 8 schools. It seems that when the older kids are forced to be with much younger kids they learn to be kinder. Teachers are less tolerant of bad behavior towards younger kids but chalk it up to adolescent behavior in middle school kids. Good luck and keep us posted.

  • At 2:02 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    While I don't have any intelligent thoughts to add... I definitely can understand your fear. We don't struggle with ADHD and middle school still terrifies me. I can't imagine your worries with D.O.'s challenges on top of it.

    But, from what I know (read) about you, I think you have the tools to handle it and get him through those years without him ending up on a tower with a black trench coat on...

  • At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I only recently started reading your blog. I don't have a blog myself but am still considering it. For once in 8 years I feel like someone is going through the same thing I am. My son is 8, has not been diagnosed with anything yet (my issues). He is in tutoring for his reading comprehension, but that's not really the point. He has that same thing about him that says "I'm totally lost and don't get it". He looks right into my eyes and I could swear he is not there. Simple things sometimes are the ones that stump him the most. This morning he couldn't figure out how to eat his biscuit, put his jacket on and get in the car. It completely threw him for a loop. And me, I tend to lose it in the mornings. I have to stop, force him to look in my eyes, tell him step by step....put the biscuit down, put the jacket on, pick the biscuit up and go get in the car. I'm trying so hard to be the best mom at everything. I am so worried about all the labels they stick on kids these days. We all grew up without these labels and we made it. We struggled through. Anyway, thank you for letting me vent. I will be diligently watching for more posts from you on this. Thank you so much for letting me know that I'm not the only one. -Cheryl

  • At 4:29 PM, Blogger Foofa said…

    I immediately though the same thing as Sori and Reticent Writer. My best friend in high school
    s brother has aspergers and it came to mind. I also realize that people are very quick to label children these days but it seems you have a good team around you to help.

  • At 6:01 PM, Blogger Kathryn in NZ said…

    ditto the Aspergers..... a nephew was diagnosed several years back. ADHD never really fit him (he was never the H) but bright and socially dislocated - yup, bang on. Plus my neighbour's child is high functioning Autistic, and I see the similarities and differences between him and my nephew (17).
    My sister works very hard ensuring he is in the right schools and has support mechanisms in place. Result so far? He is coping mostly, and will end up employable and probably in a good job.
    I feel for you, and I'm sending coping vibes for you and DO.

  • At 6:05 PM, Blogger jess said…

    Two of my brothers had ADD and one is also severely learning disabled. It's incredibly hard, no doubt about that, but I think you & you're husband are great parents who can help him through this. The fact that you're so close to your kids and that you're aware and willing to get him the help he needs will make the difference. My parents were so done raising children by the point my brothers were born (not that that stopped them from having more) that they just kind-of floundered around helplessly with the younger one (who, of course needed the most help).

    Anyway, I will be thinking of your family and praying, which you can interpret as good karma or positive energy floating towards you. I imagine it's all the same thing anyway. ;-)

  • At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As a teacher, I've seen Asperger's and ADHD, and I'm betting Asperger's is what you're looking at right now.

    The suggestions of videotaping behavior and replaying with discussion is an excellent one. So is constantly calling attention to the expressions on people's faces. Social skills will probably need to be taught very methodically.

    Also, to Cheryl/anomymous: One common symptom of ADD is an inability to prioritize. ADDers have great difficulty with deciding what steps need to be taken and in what order to do them, especially in new situations. Learning and following routines is vital. So is mental role-play of what to do in emergencies.

  • At 1:09 AM, Blogger Notes and letters to myself.... said…

    I am not sure if you get a chance to read all your comments -- but if you do this may be of some help.

    My son is going to be 8 and he is gifted. He has an IEP just like the kids who have disabilities - and at first I was concerned they were pigeonholing him, however, I understand why he needs an Individual Education Plan.

    While my son does not have ADHD or Aspbergers he does have his share of quirks. One of the best things that we have learned over the course of two years is that mind and body classes (Yoga - yes I said yoga), help kids like mine and yours who are gifted, smart, and have a problem settling, or quieting their minds and bodies. My son goes two times a week, and the change is amazing.

    The other two things many of my peers (Psychologists) suggest is mediation, or if you are so inclined prayer. (I don't remember what your belief system ism if any).

    Any of the above really helps a child quiet his mind, focus his thoughts and helps him control his body.

    Once I got past being concerned about the IEP, everything came together for us.

    Middle school can be a bitch -- in my day we called it Jr. High. I hated it, high school was much easier.

    I will be thinking of you.

  • At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We just want our kids to be happy and there is nothing more heart breaking than seeing kids being bullied or worse. My daughter is 4 years old and at the moment we are investigating a Sensory Processing Disorder. Her Engine goes full bore, all day, every day. There are safety issues and she can be rough with others and finds it hard to finish anything or concentrate for any length of time. My problem is that even before she has started school i have relatives telling me what a naughty little girl she is. She honestly isn't naughty, just doesn't know how to calm herself. We are working on it and trying to guide her using 'heavy work' activities. But it's really hard to have people who should be helping and supporting us to be the ones that are the bullys. Why can't they see her as the helpful, intelligent, funny, imaginative little possum that she is. Her kindergarten teachers are wonderful. They have alot of time for her and i know she is well loved and looked after at kinder. Why aren't her grandparents being the grandparents that she needs.

    I understand that it's hard, all i can do is the best possible job as a mother and hope the lessons i've taught her help her through the tough times. I hope she knows i'm here for her day or night as she grows older and will always be her greatest fan.
    Good luck

  • At 7:47 AM, Blogger Gwendolyn said…

    I feel your pain. I sent my gifted, doesn't-read-social-cues daughter to middle school for six weeks. It was the most horrible six weeks of our lives. (There, aren't I comforting today?) I brought her home after that, and we never looked back. I haven't decided if my other children will try it...they are all very different, and at least one of them would probably handle it fine. I'm glad that I have a couple of years to make the decision. :o)

  • At 1:09 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I feel for you. Middle school is hell for most kids, even those without any kind of disability. I hope things work out all right for you and him.

  • At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My son is both gifted and has ADHD (and probably other problems I am "avoiding"), he comes from a "broken home" and now lives in a "blended family"...the list goes on. Last year he started Middle School and I won't was HARD! I specifically remember a day when he was being made fun of at the bus stop and as he sat forlornly I had to drive away to work when all I wanted to do was wrap him in my arms. I cried the whole way to work - and throughout much of the day! But when I got home that night, he was playing with those same kids and was oblivious to the mornings heartache. Now that he is in 7th grade - life is much easier. He has friends, he enjoys school and for lack of a better way to explain, he is starting to grow into his ADHD...almost embrace it! We are also lucky in the fact that our school system is AWESOME and I make sure to be in constant contact with is a little harder in Middle School b/c there are now 9 teachers total, but in some ways it is better - b/c the odds are better that one of those teachers will connect with your child. Keep your head up - it gets better. And truly, a kid that has his parents love and knows it, as I have no doubt your son does, they make it thru - when it comes down to it - ultimately it is enough to know someone has your back & loves you unconditionally.

  • At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As an educator, I deal with students with MANY issues. In the last couple of years, I have been learning more and more about NONVERBAL LEARNING DISABILITIES. While I would never diagnose a child, please do yourself a favor and read up on this. The red flag for me was the inability to pick up on social cues and difficulty with forging relationships. If you have never read up on this, please take a little time to do so. I think you will find it extremely enlightening. Up until a couple of years ago, I did not have much experience with it. That was until a student diagnosed with this went through our classroom.
    I know you have a lot of suggestions with this, but this is one of those disabilities that comes along with ADHD. Just like you said, ADHD never seems to "act alone."
    I hope you find some answers.

  • At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One more thing, it is also referred to NLD (Nonverbal learning disorder). I included a website that lists "What to look for." Look closely at the language/communication section.

  • At 8:45 PM, Blogger said…

    Every school conference, I waved away the teacher's initial "he's really, really smart. Really!" and ask "But how is he DOING? Is he behaving? What kind of friendships does he have? Is he still poking that kid with a pencil/peeing on the bathroom stall door/making weird noises/etc.?"

    I understand. I would trade brilliance with the ability to meld into the world a bit better any day. An average intelligence kid can work hard to attain better grades. But a really smart kid that has a hard time connecting with the world makes me wring my hands and grow gray hairs...

  • At 10:39 PM, Blogger Six Green Zebras said…

    I wish I had brilliant words for you but I don't. I have the same wish for the Little Man, that he just be able to keep friends, not alienate them away. I can't fathom middle school and hope for the best for you when you get there.

  • At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    BA, your post reminds me so much of my 10 year old son who is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

    So many times people with Asperger's Syndrome are diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, and many other things before getting the real diagnoses of AS.

    If your son has AS and is diagnosed he can get special help at school and get OT to help with the social skills he needs to develope.

    I chose to homeschool my son and we get him into the public as much as possible with therapist, OT, and various tutors. This is all great for him and he also gets socialization thru many other areas in his life.

    If your son has AS he NEEDS to be diagnosed NOW and get the help NOW before he becomes an adult and can't funtion without you.

    Trust me, I'm married to a 34 year old man with Asperger's Syndrome...

    E-mail me if you want to discuss it.

    dabe at intrstar dot net

  • At 11:29 PM, Blogger crazymumma said…

    Oh man. I go away for like a week and the first post I read is this.

  • At 4:09 PM, Blogger Kathryn in NZ said…

    I forgot to say yesterday that the thing my sister did with my Aspergers nephew was martial arts - a bit like the Yoga/ meditation suggestion in the comments. Gives them space, control and body awareness (plus an outlet for frustration). Then he moved into solo sail racing (normal here Auckland isn't called the City of Sails for nothing) and that's helped heaps cos any action he makes gets an instant reaction from the boat. Plus being sporty in NZ helps your social acceptance level.... sigh.
    Just my two cents worth :)

  • At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My grandsons both have Aspergers, one more affected than the other. The oldest does not get consequences at all...neither positive or negative ones. He is forever getting into trouble of all kinds and does not learn the connections between his actions and reactions of others. He doesn't even seem to notice others are reacting. Blessings to all the kids out there who just don't fit.

  • At 3:44 PM, Blogger Jules of Whimsicalnotions blog said…

    My son has aspergers and after along rant from me on how awfull yesterday was kylie from a bite of country cupcakes blog directed me to your post.Ahh i felt at home here as i get the jsut doesnt get it bit.I get the no friends and saying the wrong thing and why are people upset with me bit.Oh how i wish i didnt but i do.Hugs to you and your son.I pray for his little spot in life that he will thrive in.I thought surviving his brothers all with add and one with the added H adhd.I got them all grown and along came my Alex.Some call it alearning curve and that sounds nice a curve i could handle.Its more like a cliff and they push you off it wayyyyy up high and let you learn to fly as you come pelting down.
    thanks for your honest blogging isee i am not alone !

  • At 12:01 AM, Blogger Dawn said…

    Thank you for this post!
    Even though I teach elementary school and not middle school, your post gave me a new perspective on those kids in my class.
    It made me step back to think that maybe they, too, don't realize the repercussions of their actions, which is why they give me one of those blank stares when they are in trouble once again.

  • At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Came here from Crazymumma. My oldest is 24 now and struggled all through school because of his ADD. He still doesn't get some things, still has poor social skills, still is very impulsive and is still very smart. It's been so painful to watch him fail. He is more mature than he was at seventeen but not as mature as most adults his age, just takes longer I guess.

  • At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I often wonder, as someone above alluded to, if you read comments and what you think. Having read you for quite awhile now, it's obvious you've done HUGE amounts of work and research to figure out what's going on with your kids and how to get them what they need. Do you therefore find comments sometimes jump to the obvious? or whatever. I do think that the very large majority of your readers are great-hearted and well-intentioned and hope to help. I know I often would like to figure out something to say that would help, too. So I'm jumping on the Asperger's bandwagon. As was pointed out, the great intelligence combined with lack of social skill is a big pointer.

    I have a friend who was trained as a Montessori teacher, who often said middle school is like the lions in the zoo, and should be strictly segregated from the rest of the population. Elementary kids could be put together with high schoolers, whose best is brought out by having to be examples to those younger ones. But the middle schoolers are too close in age to high school and try too hard to imitate the worst habits they see (in order to be "grown up"). At the same time, they believe themselves to BE so much more grown up than the littler ones, they give that group the worst of themselves, blowing them off. And, at the same time, treat each other in just the worst ways as they try to work out how to become positive, mature, social beings.

    Sorry to be so long-winded! As always, thanks for your interesting thoughts.


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