1 week to go and I will be free! (temporarily)— free from the work it takes to get Lily through school every day. Her ADHD & difficulties with Executive Function have made her first year of middle school extremely difficult for her and for me. The organizational demands of 6th grade have been overwhelming for her and I’ve been acting as her Executive Function support and scaffolding all year.
At least for the next couple of months… I’ll be free from the torture of nagging Lily to get ready for school. Getting her out of the house–on time—every day is a major feat. So, at least for the summer… no reminding, over and over again. No fighting. No frustration. No yelling. No tears. And that’s just the morning.
I won’t have to try to figure out every night what homework she has to do, when it’s due, if she’s done it and/or if she’s turned it in. I won’t have to check the Parent Portal to find out what assignments she has missing. No hurrying through dinner and showers to try to get Lily settled down enough to fall asleep at a decent hour. We can enjoy summer evenings on our porch, watching the sun set behind the mountains, while the kids goof around and I guzzle a box of wine. GUZZLE-to drink especially liquor greedily, continually, or habitually
This has been the hardest school year for me since Lily started Kindergarten. The extreme effort it takes to try to keep this ADHD/2E kid caught up on her assignments seems to be never ending and exhausting.
Lily is tired too. She desperately needs time to just play and explore and exercise, after being cooped up at school, forced into a rigid environment that emphasizes her weaknesses, instead of her strengths.
Nearly 3 weeks and the IEP situation has not been resolved. I have been trying to hold my tongue here (a little bit) during negotiations. The tension and stress just really suck. BUT—I will not give up until they agree, in writing, to provide the support and scaffolding Lily needs to develop as a student and a human being. Because I am NOT going to college with her to check her Student Planner every night.
Received another revised version of the IEP tonight and STILL the language makes it sound like her Executive Function deficits, which are caused by her disability–ADHD, are really only a concern to her parents. In fact, to the rest of the team, it doesn’t seem to be a problem that Lily had 9 missing or late Math assignments & 7 missing or late Language Arts assignments last trimester. (and those are the ones I didn’t catch) C’mon? What’s the problem? Her grades are fine. What am I complaining about? I’m sure her future teachers won’t have a problem with that either, right?
The IEP also seems to suggest that learning those Executive Function skills is completely my daughter’s responsibility. That perhaps some all-seeing, all-knowing, list-making, anal-retentive Student Planner fairy is going to sprinkle sparkly organizational dust from the sky and it will float down upon her sweet 11-year old forehead, soak into her frontal lobe and she will magically, without help, turn in all her assignments, on time.
Maybe the Organizational Fairy could also make these wishes come true:
*After being reminded both verbally and on the board, Lily will understand what to write in her planner every day.
Oh, asking for adult assistance. That’s a big one and pretty much, right now, it doesn’t happen. But her IEP goals and objectives say it should happen, somehow. Oh, right… maybe the Fairy again?
Sadly, there is no Organization Fairy who can help break these seemingly simple tasks down into small enough steps for Lily to begin to learn to do it for herself.
I guess if Lily will just buckle down, put her shoulder to wheel, pull herself up by her bootstraps and shape up or ship out, she’ll do just fine next year, won’t she? ‘Cause I’m sure that’s all it takes. It’s just a character flaw that can be fixed with just a few natural consequences, right? Yep. That’ll teach her.
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.