The complex brain: children with learning difficulties

My son’s brain is complex. My son is hilariously funny, in a quirky kind of way. He almost always jumps out of bed and begins his morning with an over the top dance, and a song with non-existent words, words he apparently made up.

Sometimes he is so hyperactive that he just can’t stop. Without medication, he cannot concentrate, sit still, and will exhibit difficult behaviours.

My son exists in a different space from other children. This space is an isolated space. His hyperactivity deems him immature, his concentration span keeps him from learning, and his low dopamine levels make him continually seek out high risk situations.

Just as we think he has enough to handle, we are given another diagnosis. My son has ADHD, and dyslexia.

It can take my son’s brain months to process a particular academic concept.

It took ten weeks of intensive teaching on my part to get my son to understand how exactly one goes about sounding out a simple word. For this to happen, my son needed complete silence as I sat with him everyday for twenty minutes repeating simple words, and emphasising the five vowel sounds.

His fine motor skills are poor. His hands hurt when he is asked to write. His writing is all over the page, and his fingers ache when he does up the buttons on his school shirt.

My son’s brain has always performed differently. At eighteen months old he could scoot on a two wheeler scooter. At age of four, he could do a pretty good sized jump on his scooter.

However, oddly enough, by the age of two years old, my son could not say one single word!

I quickly adopted a well know speech pathology technique and taught my son how to speak.

For the next six months, for one hour every single day, I tirelessly commented on his every action whilst he played. I talked, and talked, and talked, each and everyday, until my son could make full sentences.

My initial thought was that my son was simply a slow talker. However, I was very wrong. His speech difficulty was ultimately a sign of something much deeper.

At the beginning of kindergarten  I was told by my son’s teacher that he may have ADHD.

He was throwing gigantic tantrums in class, he couldn’t sit still, and his impulse control was non-existent. By the end of the year, most of his friends realised that going near my little boy meant they may get a wack.

Towards the end of kindy my son was diagnosed with ADHD by a paediatrician, and medicated.

Once upon a time I questioned the realness of ADHD. Now, I see ADHD exactly for what it is; a complex disorder where impulse control, hyperactivity, and a lack of concentration are at the fore front of the problem.

I have watched my son lose control of his inhibitions. I have watched his behaviour climax to out of control degrees. I have watched him dance while trying to read a book, cry because he doesn’t understand his own brain, and sit in a deep sense of shame because he doesn’t want to behave badly, or to be an underachiever.

At the age of seven my son is finally beginning to achieve academically, and in his social life. However, his conditions do mean that he is now a continual work in progress.

My son walked into the kitchen this morning while I was reading his report card. He asked me if he had done well, and I told him he had. He looked over my shoulder and stared at his grades. His happy face immediately turned pale, and resinated disappointment.

He wanted to know if he had only received low grades? So, I told him that are many good things about his report, and that I am really proud of him.

He was happy with my answer, and his face immediately lit up again.

I don’t understand how the department of education, and a society can allow children to receive D’s. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought keeping our children’s self-esteem high at all times was one of the most important things we as a society can do. Children only want A’S and B’s. No-one wants a C or a D. These grades make children feel stupid.

My life is about keeping my son’s wings flying high in the sky. Nobody wins if children think they are silly. These children turn into adults with limited confidence. Both their past successes, and the times they were least successful mould them into the adults they become.

The teachers tell me not to show my son his report card. My son knows that twice a year he brings home his report card in a yellow envelope.

There are so many great things about my son besides his grades. My son is very switched on, highly intuitive, is a great soccer player, a sound cricket player, and a lovely brother.

He would give you his last lolly if you really wanted it, and he is the first person to help if help is what you need. My son’s brain is different from other children’s. He is in a category of his own.

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