I met with WC’s teacher and school guidance counselor the other day. Let me start off by saying that I think WC has an excellent teacher. I don’t think he could have gotten a better one for his personality. She is truly amazing. The meeting started a little late, when the counselor couldn’t be located. But his teacher said that we’d start without her. She wanted me to start off and explain what my concerns were with him. My list included his sudden “I can’t” attitude; his perfectionist attitude- to the point where he believes he has to do the task perfectly the first time with minimal effort and if he thinks he can’t then he will not even attempt it. And his focus issues. We each shared our experiences in dealing with him and we are both experiencing the same things. She asked me about homework. And honestly, when we suffer through it, he appears to be being physically tortured. I’d rather have brain surgery through my nasal passages without anesthetic than to deal with him and writing sentences.
For his teacher her main concern was his lack of focus. She said that since he is very bright that right now it isn’t interfering with his ability to get good grades. But her concern was that as the material begins to get harder he will not be able to compensate any longer and his grades will suffer. And perhaps that’s why his self esteem is also dipping because he is bright enough to figure this out. His problems aren’t that he can’t do the work. In fact, he can do even better. She doesn’t give him the challenge vocabulary words, not because it’s too hard but because it stresses him out. She said that she gives a pre-test at the beginning of the week and those who get the regular words all correct, get the challenge words. She suspects that he purposely misses two words every week. And I believe her because most of the time when he gets home Monday evening and I go over the words, he already knows them all. So, mama here is going to start sneaking in some of the challenge words on my own. She said that he is very logical and she has to appeal to that sense of logic. Say, he gets to question four and melts down because he instantly doesn’t know the answer. She says to him now if you sit here and don’t move on you will miss the last 10. Now if you skip number 4 and move on to the next questions. You miss one. Would you rather miss 10 or 1? Of course, he picks one and moves on.
The guidance counselor finally makes it into the meeting and we have boiled down our two issues: his lack of focus and self esteem/image/confidence.
His teacher said that he doesn’t have any behavior issues but there is a lot of redirection going on with him with numerous reminders to return his attention to his work. I see that at home too. The guidance counselor puts it out there right away: ADD/ADHD- my feelings on this? His teacher said it was definitely not ADHD…perhaps a touch of ADD, BUT he is a 7 yr old boy. I immediate state that I do not feel that even looking into the idea of medication is remotely appropriate right now. I explain my feelings based on my experience having a sister diagnosed ADHD in 2nd grade and the subsequent guinea pig like adjustments with medication. And to top it all off, I don’t recall that it helped her in school. And to this day, as an adult, she “can’t do because she’s ADHD.” It became a crutch. It turns out we were all on the same page with the idea medication. The counselor wanted to know what after school activities he was involved in. I let them know that in addition to scouts that he will be starting back with Karate in March. They both felt that this was a very good thing.
The counselor explained that traditionally the role of guidance counselor dealt with children who couldn’t. It’s relatively new thing for her- in the past couple of years that she’s seen children with WC’s sort of issues. I would argue that it isn’t a new phenomenon but that people realized earlier that children with developmental delays needed specialized help. And they do. I wouldn’t want to take that away. Now parents of children on the other end of the spectrum are realizing their kids might also benefit from being helped. Just because a kid is on the bright-gifted spectrum, that life isn’t all sunshine and lollipops. He’s bright, he’s sensitive, he’s aware of everything around him and paralyzed by his own need for perfection. Where it comes from and why, I don’t know. I racked my brain for months trying to figure out the ‘where’ and the ‘why’. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter. We just have to figure out what to do now and move forward.
The guidance counselor felt that his teacher and I have done appropriate things. And she wanted to meet with him. She was about to begin meeting with a first grade girl who had very similar issues to WC. She wanted to know if it would be okay with me if they worked together. She wanted to take both of them and run them through some self image and confidence building exercises/games. Of course, she would need to clear it with the other mother first. And if for some reason the children wouldn’t open up with the other in the room/it didn’t work out, etc. she would meet with them individually. Once they were into this, if it came out the issues were deeper than what they deal with in the school she would refer us out.
I left the hour and ten minute meeting feeling very good. I felt hopeful, finally. We have a plan in place. I’m still continuing my reading and researching on self esteem/confidence in kids. And I’m trying out new parenting techniques in ways of dealing with both of them. It isn’t going to get better over night. It isn’t going to be easy and I’m sure to not get it right 100% of the time. But I have plans; steps to take that will take us in the right direction.