A 2E Volcano–The Emotion of Writing

I called home to tell the girls I’d be late because I had haircut appointment after work.  Lily was immediately not happy. When I made a joke about how much she must want to see me, she got mad and launched into some angry explanation about some sentences she had to write and she needed me to help her and now she was never going to get done!

When I suggested that she start without me, she got even more upset.  I mentioned to her that these seem like the ‘volcano’ feelings that Dr. K talks about.


I hadn’t seen Lily this upset about writing in awhile.  Up until this year, she would get angry and frustrated almost every time she had to write something. It was torture for everyone involved.  She couldn’t even start writing a sentence by herself and often I scribed for her, helping prompt her along the way.

Now I know that part of this writing difficulty is caused by her Executive Function deficits in planning and task initiation, which seem to be fairly common in people with ADHD or Dyslexia.

Lily has trouble sequencing her thoughts and getting them down on paper. There’s a huge discrepancy between what goes in her brain and what comes out in written expression, which is, of course, frustrating for her.  Although this article on written expression and Executive Function focuses on the bipolar child, there’s some great info in it for all students who struggle with writing.

This year, in 6th grade, Lily has really improved in this area and usually she is able to work on writing assignments by herself.  When I got home tonight though, she kept trying to put off working on her writing.
 
Finally, when I asked a few more questions, she launched into another tirade about a test that she had to take at school and she had to write sentences for her answers and usually she doesn’t have to write the answers and she had to write sentences to support her answers and she got all the answers right but missed points because she didn’t know how/didn’t have time to write the support sentences.

I asked if her frustration with that writing earlier in the day had anything to do with her frustration with writing tonight and she said she thought that it did.

Next thing I know she’s in the office, in the dark, sitting focused at the computer, typing her science analysis answers in a wacky font.  Probably took her 30 minutes total and then she was perfectly happy, at least until she realized she still had to write down her chapter notes for her Lit Circle.

Then came a mini-rant on how difficult it is to write notes while she’s reading.  I reminded her that the teacher said it can just be a few notes she jots on a Post-It after she reads.  So, after giving me a long, detailed verbal description of her chapter in The Golden Fleece, she scribbled down a few notes, which she then typed on the computer using a giant Greek font and titled with Jason’s name translated into its Greek spelling.

I think a lot of time, when faced with a writing assignment, she is just overwhelmed by a wave of emotion–frustration is what she’s used to–and then it usually it subsides quickly.  Just have to keep working on making her aware and giving her the tools to use self-talk to quiet the volcano.

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Posted on April 20, 2011, in ADHD, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Emotional Regulation, Executive Function, Twice Exceptional, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. When my son was young, I swore that he used to provoke us into yelling at him every single day before reading. We watched him and though long and hard about it, but he would push and push and push until he would get into trouble — and then he would settle down and work like a lamb.

    I found myself wondering if somehow getting in trouble/provoking some emotion or a reaction didn't help him to focus or didn't remove the anxiety some way.

    Much less of that now, although I'll have him go and jump on the trampoline if he's having trouble focusing.

    cheers, @catmikk on twitter

  2. Yes, I've noticed that–once she crosses over into a kind of a Zen-like focus, she's fine. She just needs help getting there sometimes and some kind of physical movement does help.

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