Monday, November 17, 2008

The Boy Who Couldn't Stop

Not the best picture of Alex but I took it only to show him how he looked when I finally got him seated for a rest. We had a busy weekend - a sleepover at Grandpa's, a visit with Rob's aunt and the first holiday party of the season. Every year Rob's family (on his mom's side) rents a hall and the aunts, uncles, cousins and their kids gather for a turkey and some socializing. For some of us it is the only time we meet each year. I think I counted 12 young ones this year out of about 50 of us. Well, there is nothing like a dozen kids, lots of sweets and treats, and St. Nick himself showing up with presents to turn my boy into the Tasmanian Devil.

I know, lots of kids get wound up under those circumstances but poor Alex just doesn't know when to quit. There he is, sweating, red-faced, eyes bulging out of his head and teetering on the brink of a massive meltdown. This has always been an issue with our boy and it rarely matters the circumstance. He can't or won't listen to his body and slow down. In this state I have to remind him to have a drink of water or even go to the washroom. It's like the ultimate adrenaline high for him.

It is after times like this that I start to worry about whether or not I should have Alex tested for ADD. Specifically, ADD - Inattentive. He meets all the criteria for it (for that matter, I meet a lot of them too), with the exception of one biggie - it needs to affect people in at least two of three environments - home, school or work. So this begs the question asked by some of us who home school, if he isn't in school and it isn't really affecting him academically, is it really a problem? Is it something that should just be approached the same way learning styles are tackled? So because Alex doesn't sit still for very long we keep table work short and slowly build his tolerance to sitting for longer periods.

Rob and I were talking about this on the long drive home. Do we fork out the cash to have him tested? What would testing really do for us? Is it better to have a label, really? We both know that we, ourselves, would have been labeled with many afflictions if we had any testing done. We made it through alright though it wasn't always a smooth ride. Maybe all Alex needs is proper guidance to help him cope with his own tendencies?

This is something on my mind quite a lot these days. Especially as I struggle to get any formal output from him. We can sit together and work through textbooks at a frighteningly quick pace. We use our hands with manipulatives or to put projects together. He is very smart and quite creative. School-wise, the big problem we run into is written output. He hates it and it takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Writing is still done in capital letters. He seems to fear spelling things out on his own in case he gets it wrong even though his reading level is years beyond most of his peers. Colouring is the worst, by far. They colour a lot at Beavers and I can always spot Alex's work immediately. It is usually done in one colour and is just frantic, circular scribbles on one section. He can't be bothered to do it. I know he takes in a lot of information. I have no doubt he is learning and in most cases far beyond where he would need to be with a bricks and mortar education.

The biggest non-academic issues are disorganization and being easily distracted. Though it can be extremely frustrating they are things we are consciously working on. This is where I am most happy not to have to deal with the school system. I could well imagine all the "...he is quite smart but just doesn't apply himself..." conversations. Ha! I heard quite a lot of those conversations about myself growing up. He does very well one-on-one and at home we can limit the distractions during lessons. We've come up with a simple reward chart system to help with motivation and to reinforce good habits that don't come easily. It is a new approach we have been trying to put together for a while now. I'll repost more in the future when we see how it fairs.

I've felt in my gut that Alex was different from very early on. Not in a bad way (because he has always been very special to me) but in a difficult to articulate way that certainly feels more challenging as he gets older. Part of it is because I find it difficult to relate to why he does the things he does. Partly because he can be a very explicit mirror reflecting back parts of me and Rob that are similarly challenged. The scariest thing a parent has to do is make a choice that is not based on what is right or wrong, but on what is better. There are an awful lot of those these days and only time will tell what works.

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