Pulling My Head Out Of My A...The Sand
I call it the "ostrich defense".
When Diminutive One was diagnosed with ADHD, I of course, did a plethora of research. And his therapist was a wonderful source of information and support. What I learned was that learning disabilities like these rarely exist in a vacuum. They are almost always accompanied by other disorders, such as anxiety and depression, processing disorders, OCD, ODD...there is a laundry list of conditions that are often co-morbid.
But I thought that we needed to deal with one thing at a time. I also didn't want to slap labels on my child willy nilly. Most of all, I didn't want to borrow trouble.
The ADHD was obvious. It made sense. And though I struggled with the diagnosis at first, once he began drug and behavior therapy, it became clear that our decision to medicate was the right one.
He responded remarkably well. His grades came up, and he began to think of himself as a "smart" kid. His self confidence slowly emerged. As his anxiety abated, so did his tendency to get physically ill at the thought of going to school.
Things were definitely looking up. And so, I was lulled into a false sense of security.
But it has become increasingly clear over the last year or so, that there is still something drastically wrong.
He just doesn't get certain things.
He seems completely incapable of making connections that we all make without any conscious thought. He can't seem to understand the repercussions of his own behavior. He can't seem to process the information he is given and apply it, no matter how many times he is told. He does not pick up on social cues; body language, tone of voice, facial expressions.
As a result, he is constantly in trouble. People are constantly annoyed with him. He has few friends. And he is completely and totally oblivious as to why. He is surprised when consequences are imposed. He is confused and upset when people get angry with him.
I know that's hard for someone with a neurotypical child to understand. Hell...it's hard for ME to understand. For a long time, I attributed his behavior to his instransigant nature. He's extremely strong willed and always has been.
But no kid wants to be in trouble all the time. No kid wants to be ostracized. No kid wants to have people constantly irritated with him.
The thing is, that he really wants to behave. He just can't.
And that has been very hard to understand, much less accept. He is AMAZINGLY smart. And it's difficult to believe that he can't comprehend simple cause and effect. It's very easy to fall into the trap of believing that if he just tried a little harder....
But things have come to a point where I am forced to face reality.
Giftedness, I've learned, often comes with a price. When the brain excels in one area, there are often deficits in another.
Haven't we all heard the stories, seen the news segments, read the articles? There are people out there of exceptional intelligence who can't remember to change their underwear or brush their teeth. There are people who can solve theorems in their sleep, but can't hold a conversation with another person.
Diminutive One goes to Middle School next year. And I've got to get this figured out before then or they will eat him alive.
That's a thought that hurts me.
Because I've been hanging around the Middle School a lot lately. And let me tell you...as bad as we all remember it, the reality is even worse. Those kids are fucking brutal.
I worry, you see, that he will end up in a black trench coat at the top of a clock tower, taking aim at those who have wronged him with calculated fury.
You know, I would trade his intelligence, his ingenuity, his creativity...all of it...for the ability to make and keep friends. To navigate life easily. To be comfortable in his own skin.
Because sometimes the price is just too high.
And normal? Is much less expensive.