It’s Not Them, It’s Me

Disorders3My youngest has a 1,000 word essay due tomorrow.  Last night, he gave me this speech: “Mom, you write books, so you’re the only one who can help me.”

The trouble is, I can’t teach my kids.  I’ve tried.  And it’s not them, it’s me.  I simply don’t have the skill sets to be a teacher on an academic level.  I can barely help them with their homework, so thank goodness they rarely need it.  I grew up learning how to teach myself, because when I was in school, the only way teachers knew how to deal with any kind of Learning Disability was to make sure that kid got up to the office in time to take their zombie medicine, so their ability to drool on themselves and otherwise not disrupt the class was well maintained.  Make sure they’re all good little drones.

That might sound a bit harsh, but the cold hard facts were just that.  The head honchos sitting on the Board of Education simply didn’t want to ‘deal’ with kids that behaved any way out of the norm, because all of their programs were generalized.  Teachers just didn’t know how to teach us; they only knew how to repeat back what they’d been told, like parrots.  Unfortunately, there are many out there that are still that way.  Drugs like Ritalin became their go-to resource, and before long, they became the pill pushers for the pharmaceutical companies worldwide.  Yay public schools! (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Nowadays, though, parents have a better chance at finding a good school where the entire staff is up to par on all of the different kinds of learning disabilities out there – which is a good thing!  My youngest is LD free, which for me, is even harder to try to teach.  My eldest, however, was diagnosed with mild ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) last Spring; which in Layman’s terms means that he is High Functioning Autistic or what used to be known as Aspergers.   This is on top of already being diagnosed with ADD several years ago.  I love when people say it’s a choice (you know, like being born white, black, brunette, blonde, male, female, straight or gay is a choice) that kids are just lazy and they’re using it as an excuse to skim by while all of the other kids have to work hard.

My son’s doctor was the best and helped put this into perspective for us.  He said:  “Pick up an article written in a foreign language, in small print, while wearing the wrong prescription lenses and read it.  Read it and comprehend it.  That is what it’s like for a child who suffers from ADD/ADHD to try to focus.”

Optimized-What-skills-do-learning-disabilities-affectIt is not an excuse.  It is a real medical condition.  It is the fact that their brains are not producing the right amount of Dopamine levels necessary for concentration.  Kids are kids, though, and if you allow them to use these things as a crutch, they will.   I was blessed to have the kind of adults in my life who believed that learning disabilities were a challenge, not an excuse and pushed me to excel or at least meet expectations when the subject was difficult.  “It’s not a disability,” they would say.  “It’s simply the need to be taught differently.”

I also choose not to put chemicals into my children’s bodies, so my son takes all-natural Dopamine supplements and other natural vitamins to counteract his concentration problems.  Yes, I have to stay on top of him all of the time and it is hard work, but I’m happy to announce that he’s made the Principal’s honor roll for a GPA of 3.0 or higher every quarter so far and his own goal to end the year with straight A’s is not beyond his reach at all.  I’m ecstatic with passing grades, but he wants better and I’m going to support him 100%, by not letting him skim by, as those ignorant of ASD and ADD might like to claim he does.

This wasn’t meant to be a rant, but I guess in a way it is.  More than that, though, it’s a statement that I’m so fortunate my children are far more intelligent than I am, because beyond Geography, History and Writing, I am utterly useless as a tutor or homework aide.

I teach them the other important things they’re going to need in life – I mean, it’s bound to sink in eventually, right? –  so I can live with that. 🙂

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