As we continue learning and adjusting our parenting style to better accommodate The Stin, these little pop-ups occur that paint a beautiful, hilarious and frustrating picture of his brain in action. This post is not written to poke fun or make light of any diagnosis or situations that touch so many people. This is simply written as a tribute to the bumps we encounter on our road with a son who takes the long way to get to the wrong place essentially, and how we back it up and reroute his trip.
So The Stin is in middle school and I felt like I should touch base with some of his teachers to kinda let them know about his diagnosis and also help them understand what might be tough for him with the transition...particularly the teacher's he had received detentions from. Preparation is a tough one for him, planning ahead, thinking about consequences, setting goals too far off-that he struggles with, he is very much a here and now kid.
I felt like I should give them a heads up, because I wouldn't want them to think he is being lazy or defiant if he continues to forget his books, and I also wanted them to know to keep me in the loop so we can work on his school routine, so he gets into a good routine and not a bad one...key. Plus I wanted to also provide my support for the detentions, he needs consequences, even if they don't really work, his diagnosis is not an excuse for incorrect behavior. It is only an excuse to work harder.
I particularly wanted to speak to his Language Arts teacher regarding future book reports and extended response tests. We received The Stins lexical number and he's reading at an 11/12th grade level, however, trying to get him to explain the book is a whole other situation. He retains, because he can answer about any specific (and by specific I mean multiple choice) question correctly, but once you get into broader thinking that might contain feelings or why the author did this or why don't you think he did that-BAM, he falls apart. If you ask him to summarize the book for you, he may repeat, almost verbatim, an entire page but that doesn't necessarily mean it explains the book-it most likely is a part he really enjoyed and therefore he will share that information with you. It's tough and worrisome as he enters 6th grade and I wanted to be proactive with his teachers and open up the lines of communication so I can do whatever I need to help them and him.
So after a little phone tag we finally touch base. He was in his second week of school and it was a Monday when she called. She is extremely nice, which is always reassuring, I tell her about The Stin and where my concerns lay and she informs me that summarizing is a struggle at this age for many kids so she's totally prepared to be dedicating a lot of time to working on that. She also thanks me for the heads up and then mentions that "It makes so much more sense now." Hmmmmm, what makes more sense? Well she then proceeds with this story:
On Friday she did a little following directions exercise, giving the class note cards and having them write info on them for her files. She then instructed them to flip the card over and write something about themselves that they would like to share with her....nothing too personal, just an interesting fact. Easy enough. Well as she looked over the cards that weekend and got to The Stin's she flipped it over to read: "I'm Mentally Ill"
Yup, you read that right. I remember saying "Oh Myyyyyyyyy" as I sighed heavily and threw my head back in disbelief. But, it did make sense. As I posted before, we never named the diagnosis when we talked to The Stin. We used a superpower analogy and basically said his brain was wired differently than most kids...Brain Wired Differently-there it was. And this is how The Stin thinks. Let me take you for a ride down The Stin Avenue, be prepared, it's long and takes a lot of wrong turns and as you can see from above, usually finishes in the wrong place..
Brain-well his brain deals with him mentally, since your mental abilities come from your brain. Wired differently means it's broken, but you can't break your brain so it must be sick or something and another word for sickness is being ill and he's heard of being mentally ill before, that is definitely a word he's heard somewhere so it must be the right conclusion that since his brain is wired differently, he is obviously mentally ill. And it is also important to share that with his Language Arts teacher, because saying he plays goalie for his soccer team just doesn't seem appropriate.
Thankfully she is great and after recapping our explanation she really understood where he was coming from and also got a little insight into how his brain works. But after hanging up, I immediately had to go into damage control. First I very lightly asked him about the note card and what he shared, and he immediately knew he ended up in the wrong place with that statement. All I could do was confirm that he was very wrong and by no means was he mentally ill. I also had to confirm that he hadn't told any of his friends this information, which he assured me he hadn't PHEW! Then we went into rerouting, which is really just explaining what mental illness is, how he does not fall into that category, reiterating what his diagnosis is and then reminding him that he can't come to conclusions with words he doesn't fully understand. I swear, if I could use the saying about, "You know what happens when you ASS-U-ME?" I would say it every day to him. His assumptions are what cause him the most difficulty and he is notorious for making huge assumptions.
But we got that cleared up, for now. His brain is a labyrinth and his paths are never the same in direction, but usually always the same in outcome. I wouldn't worry so much about his long, winding journey, if he was landing in the right spot, but when he finds himself lost in a not-so-good place, that's when I feel like I need to be stepping in and helping to redirect. The problem is I can't just Google map the directions, and sometimes I might not know the right way either. So The Stin and I are working on our cartographer skills together and hopefully we can create a map that he can navigate, I don't care how many twists and turns it has, as long as it ultimately leads him to where he needs to go which I hope is also where he wants to be... in the right place, a good place.