I am so excited! I honestly cannot believe how hopeful I feel considering just a few hours ago I felt pretty hopeLESS! I have some very interesting interventions I’ve just learned about that I want to share with you.
First, though, I need to confess that this morning (and yesterday) were so utterly depressing for little man at school. I called a bunch of homeschooling sources right after lunch today. I had thrown up my hands. Yesterday, little man cried and fought valiantly to avoid school, begging to homeschool, clinging to his lovies. His aid and the head of special ed managed to coax him out of the car and I crossed my fingers. When I picked him up two hours later, he had been basically stuck in an office with his aid working on the one thing he hates the most – writing and spelling! Why, oh WHY would you put a child who is struggling to feel positive about himself and school in a room basically alone doing the ONE thing he can’t do? THAT is one of the first no-nos the ADHD experts warn against and here was our school, with the head of Special Ed no less, doing exactly that.
Then, today he put his big boy pants on and got out of the car with less of a fuss. I had high hopes that yesterday was a case of Monday Blues and ill prepared teachers. When I went into to get him, I watched him through the classroom window, writhing on the floor with his lovies, rolling away from the ineffective aid, and as far away from the classroom experience as it’s probably possible to get and still be in the room. He looked like he was just counting down the minutes until I arrived. The aid must have told him it was time to go because he got up suddenly and then saw me as he grabbed his backpack and jacket. He was smiling and happy to see me. The aid held a notebook where she had kept very precise quotes and notes, including time stamps of their two hours together. He told her some very disturbing things that are absolutely NOT typical for him, including a story about boulders smashing some people and making them bleed, etc. She pointed out the quotes to me with one eye brow raised.
A ha! Yes. You’ve discovered a boy who has figured out how to shock you. Good job connecting with him.
If I know anything about my little man, it’s that his default is happy. Not just content happy, but HAPPY!! He smiles for no reason. He says hi to strangers. He gives big bear hugs and generally loves life. Until this school year. Of course, he wasn’t loving last school year much either but his teacher had a great connection with him so he worked really hard for her. I think this year is going south fast because it’s harder, longer day and perhaps a teacher who is a little frazzled? I don’t know. I love her but the room has chaotic energy.
Well, heading into lunch time I felt pretty low. Little man, ever the optimist, said, “I had a pretty good day.”
I googled the heck out of homeschool, adhd therapy, tutors, dyslexia and then I remembered a Montessori teacher who told me about her kinesiology exercises for learning disabilities in her students. She also mentioned a light therapy; some machine that sent electrodes into the brain and somehow repaired weird things so it worked better. She said it healed her life long inability to make word pictures in her mind. So I googled “ADHD light therapy” and up popped LEARNING TECHNICS. It was a sponsored ad, which I rarely click on because I prefer the serendipitous dive into key word haystacks. I skimmed their website and saw they had a PBS interview. I started to watch and filled out an inquiry to get their book “When Bright Kids Can’t Learn.” As I was watching John Heath talk about how they recruited all the PhDs and therapists with experience retraining the brains of stroke victims my phone rings.
“Hello, is this Elle?”
“Um, yes it is.”
“Hi, this is John Heath of Learning Technics. How can I help you?”
My jaw would have hit the floor but it was held by a giant grin. I laughed and told him I was watching him on my computer. He asked me if I wanted to finish watching and call him back.
He went on to explain how his life long struggles with learning disabilities inspired him to develop this very simple system of retraining the brain of all kinds of children and adults. From ADHD to Dyslexia and more. The theory is really quite simple. Kids and adults who have attentional challenges really just have a weak muscle that needs to be strengthened. With exercises designed specifically to target and engage those tracking and concentration muscles, the brain is able to strengthen specific pathways and neurons so that it functions more efficiently. Since little man is only 6, he said I should try out their IQ Genius, a box full of exercises appropriate for kids his age and easy for me to help him with. For $150 I may be able to get his brain working as well as his age peers in 6 months or less.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was the second time I had heard about physical exercise helping the brain rewire and rebalance.
Moments later, I can’t even remember how, I had my browser open to amazon.com and up came a book “DYSLEXIA AND ADHD: THE MIRACLE CURE.” I noticed right away that the book describes simple exercises that helped cure a child of both dyslexia and ADHD.
“His team of researchers showed that, almost invariably, these problems are caused by an incomplete physiological development and that an answer to them might be found in a specialized exercise program. This revolutionary book captures the findings that Dore proponents believe will change the way dyslexia and ADHD are approached forever.”
My mom has been pushing me to investigate dyslexia or dysgraphia for my son for a couple of years now. We had him tested in preschool but they said they didn’t see anything. But grandmothers have instincts for things (probably cause mother’s instincts get stronger with generations) and she has literally hounded me to read “THE GIFT OF DYSLEXIA.” I have noticed that handwriting and spelling are extremely taxing for him relative to his peers and usually is a trigger event for his poorer behaviors.
I was at the park for a mommy and son playdate, when my phone rang again. This time it was the local educational consultants for Dyslexia. I explained the basics of my son’s story and the owner said I was absolutely right in calling her. We have an appointment tomorrow.
Tonight, as I tucked my son in bed I made the decision to take an extended leave from school. I have wrestled long and hard with this situation and I believe in my heart that school anxiety is more than just a “normal” response to a difficult school year. I believe that little man needs help with something really fundamental before he can resume any kind of classroom experience.
All along he has been asking, pleading to do something else for his learning. My husband supports this decision. He said whatever we do, go the mainstream medication route, this cockamamie special ed half day accommodation or some ad hoc homeschool/tutor/therapy plan, it’s all trial and error. No one knows enough about anything. But we are experts on our son. He is calling for help and of course we must respond.
I am very (VERY) curious how this exercise piece is going to work out. I’m also feeling so much less stress now that the decision is made to back off the school conformity plan. It would be absolutely wonderful if he can eventually return willingly and happily. I suspect that if he does have some learning disabilities putting a kink in his processing, that resolving that will help him feel more in control and less panicked when faced with tasks he can’t yet manage. I do feel it is important to validate a child’s struggles and not give them the “suck it up” answer at all costs.
I have more to share soon about an interesting diet/detox protocol that is recovering autistic children and adults with chronic diseases…if it can do that, I have to wonder if it can also help ADHD. Some experts say ADHD is on the autism/aspergers spectrum…which probably make sense.