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Spring Break?

This week is Spring Break for the girls, which is sort of like a vacation for me too.  The treadmill slows down a bit.  I don’t have to crack the whip and get Lily out the door to school at the break of dawn.  I don’t have to worry so much about getting homework done every night. But I am still concerned that there’s schoolwork she’s supposed to be working on this week. She doesn’t think she does, but you never know.  Plus, I feel like she must still have makeup work to do from her sick days 2 weeks ago.

Lily stayed home from school 3 days because she was sick.  Of course, I was instantly worried about her falling behind in school.  I emailed her teachers to get her assignments and then I looked in her backpack.  Big mistake.  

Of course, the backpack is stuffed full because she brings EVERYTHING home EVERY night, so she won’t forget anything.  But there’s also a big, messy stack of loose papers in there and that makes me wonder which ones are assignments past due because she forgot to turn them in and which ones are assignments she’s supposed to be working on, but has forgotten about. I need to sit down and go through it with her.  She told me she thought she was caught up, but the online parent portal still has her missing assignments.  Lily doesn’t really seem to know.

That’s one of the hardest part of helping her.  I want to be able to prompt her and support her in remembering until she learns and develops the Executive Function skills to do that herself, but I never really know what’s going on with her school assignments and neither does she. We–Lily, the school and I, have just not been able to come up with a system yet that works for her.  She gets frustrated and discouraged because organizational systems are imposed on her and they don’t seem to work.  She also feels that accepting help  and using tools to support her organization means that people are once again trying to ‘fix’ her.

Of course, she has the same planner that all her classmates have, but it’s blank.  Lily hates writing in it.  I think that’s pretty common with these kinds of kids.  She tries to keep it all in her head.  I try to encourage her to use Google calendar or other digital tools, since I’m guessing that’s what she’ll use eventually, but nothing has worked so far.

It’s hard to scaffold the support of her Executive Functioning at school when we don’t have a system in place.  I suppose it takes trial and error, after all, there are adults who have yet to find an ideal system.  But I think this piece of her twice exceptional school career is going to be huge for her.  

Next week is Lily’s annual IEP review meeting.  I’m supposed to bring my thoughts on her goals for next year.  Organization is at the top of my list.  After her success in 6th grade this year, we know that she’s learning.  Her scores on the acuity tests that predict her performance on state assessment tests increased dramatically this year.  She’s getting very good scores on her quizzes and tests in class.  But she’s still struggling and doing poorly getting assignments turned in.  That’s hard to watch when I know that she has really learned the material.

Next year, the demands on Lily’s Executive Functioning skills are only going to increase and that has me concerned.  She’s going to need more support and scaffolding to be successful and that’s what I hope to address at next week’s IEP meeting.

It’s Not About the Butter

It’s not just about the butter.  I know I tweeted (@hugyourbrain) this morning that I was debating whether to ask Lily to put the butter away; the butter she left open on the kitchen floor. (Yes, the floor.  For some reason, she likes to eat breakfast squatting in the kitchen floor, like a third-world peasant.  I think it’s because there’s a heating duct under the kitchen tile and it’s warm there.)  

Anyway, I was already 30 minutes late to work.  The plan was to take the girls to play at a friend’s house on my way to work.  Lily’s sister was already showered, dressed and fed.  I think I only had to give her instructions twice.  But Lily… Oh Lily… the butter on the floor was just the latest in this morning’s string of things left undone.  I really think that Lily doesn’t know she’s going to be late until it’s too late.  She just seems to have no sense of time passing.  

I give her plenty of prompts.  We put digital clocks in every room.  But she just seems incapable of planning, initiating and sequencing tasks, all typical of a kid with extreme difficulties with Executive Function.  She might get ready on time, if I got up an hour earlier and got myself ready so that I could follow her around and help her stay on task and pick up after herself.  But it’s all about time… balancing my time.

During the school week, our solution has been to give her ADHD medication as soon as she wakes up, so that it kicks in soon enough to help her focus.

But, this morning, it’s vacation and she took her meds late.  So, five minutes before my planned departure time, she’s wrapped in a towel and dripping wet.  She’s mad that she has to go downstairs to find clean underwear in a basket of clean clothes.  She needs to brush her teeth, but can’t find the toothpaste.  She needs to find her hat and put lotion on her face. She’s also searching for her new duct tape wallet that she wants to take to show her friend. She needs a jacket that I know she left in my bathroom floor when she took a shower the night before.  She can’t find the cool grey Puma sneakers she wants to wear.  

Lily knows that we’re waiting for her and knows that I am frustrated, so then she gets frustrated with herself and the situation starts to escalate.

That’s why I debated mentioning the butter.  I did finally ask her to put the butter away and she did do it.  But I decided not mention the bath towel she dropped in the floor.  Gotta pick the battles… or get someone to invent that frontal lobe robot to follow her around.

In writing this, I realize that some of her searching this morning could have been eliminated by Dr. K’s ADHD mantra–Same Way Every Time.  If she put the toothpaste back in the same place every time, she could always find it.  That’s why I hang my keys up when I walk in the door. She and I just talked about this and she agreed.  I might try to hit that idea a little harder.  I think I also need to break out my Smart but Scattered again for some good reminders on supporting kids with EF difficulties.

Ha,ha… my husband just yelled down from our room, asking if I know where our toothpaste is!  Maybe Lily knows… or maybe, quite possibly, she doesn’t.

Peanut Butter in the Bathtub

Living with a twice exceptional kid who has ADHD & Executive Functioning difficulties means that many times the final step of any process is never completed.  Toilet is never flushed.  Bath never drained.  Milk sitting out.  Medicine bottles without lids.  This gets more exaggerated when Lily has a friend over.

Lily doesn’t have a lot of close friends.  Her best friend moved away when she was 2nd grade and she still hasn’t gotten over it.  Her old BFF was the perfect partner for Lily—calm, organized and wise.  Lily hasn’t found anyone to take her place.  But there’s a girl who lives nearby who often asks Lily to play.  

She is similar to Lily in some ways… she can be unfocused, but is very creative.  I like that they play in an age-appropriate, creative, imaginative way.  It’s never about boys, clothes, makeup or cell phones.  They climb trees, ice skate, build forts and invent craft projects.  

This girl spent the night recently and the two of them made a path through the house, strewn with their creative projects, which I only discovered later.  I was out of the picture because I tweaked my back earlier in the day and was stuck laying down, waiting out the muscle spasms.  Little did I know what was going on upstairs.  I should have guessed.

The next morning, I was bummed to see that it looked like a tornado had gone through the house.  The dining room table was covered with their art project that involved a hot glue gun, toothpicks and paint. They had made pancakes and there was pool of syrup in the microwave, a plate of half-eaten pancakes on the floor, and a glass of syrup stuck to the stovetop.  There were costumes all over the living room floor and in the office, tape, scissors and glue sticks were spilled out of a drawer.  The final straw came when I went to take a bath, which I thought would be easier on my back, and found a ring of something disgusting in the tub.    Turns out it was peanut butter.  Of course.

The girls apparently had a ‘spa’ in the bathroom.  Their crusty bowl of peanut butter and chocolate was still on the bathroom counter.  

On one hand, I admire their creativity, but on the other, I was furious  The house was spotless 2 days ago, because I splurged and had a cleaning person come in.  Now, it was trashed again.  

Not that she doesn’t make messes constantly anyway, but when Lily has a friend over, she becomes so focused on playing that she thinks of nothing else.  She doesn’t stop to think things through. Lily was so pre-occupied with having fun with her friend that it didn’t occur to her that giving each other peanut butter-chocolate facials was probably not such a good idea.  Cleaning up her messes doesn’t even cross her mind.

I brought this up with Dr. K in our session with him this week.  As soon as I started, Lily began to get angry and defensive.  Dr. K stopped her and asked her to listen to what I had to say without getting emotional.  They’ve been working on this a lot lately and Lily is getting much better at controlling her emotional response to criticism.  

Dr. K tells her to put a ‘mellow bubble’ around herself when she listens.  He also tells her she has to learn that it’s okay for people to get upset with her when she makes mistakes. If she doesn’t use the tools she has and makes a mistake that affects other people, they will get upset with her and she needs to apologize and try to do better next time.  All good lessons for ADHD folks, who sometimes go through life with people upset with  them for being late, forgetting things and making messes.

As far as the slumber party mess-making, Dr. K reminded Lily about one of his mantras for ADHD kids.. DO IT NOW.  I think Lily usually intends to clean up her messes ‘later’ but then she forgets.

His other advice for ADHD kids—SAME WAY EVERY TIME, an attempt to create routine and reduce forgetfulness.

It was a great discussion and Lily is making huge strides in controlling her emotions, but I don’t think there’s an end to the mess-making anytime soon.

Fostering a souffle in your home.

Our local GT association and the school district’s ‘Department of Diverse Learners’ are sponsoring a GT seminar tomorrow night.  The topic is ‘Fostering Autonomous Learners in Your Home.’  I won’t be attending.  I’ll be too busy fostering autonomous learners in my home. Seriously, the kind of GT/twice exceptional learners I have, I don’t have time to attend seminars.  I’m too busy helping them with their homework every night.  

I’m not saying this seminar is an example of this, but I usually feel like most seminars, classes, workshops, etc don’t offer me much useful, day to day, in the trenches information. They all seem to be about 2E theory.  I need practical, concrete steps on how to help my twice exceptional kids with daily living skills and school work.

Lily has trouble with writing.  She has a hard time planning the steps to form a structure.  At this point, she would never be able to write something like this herself.  But, when we work on it together, she does well.  I have to guide her with the structure and start the sentences for her.  

Here’s a story that Lily and wrote together… the first chapter of her “Me” book at school.


Lily Souffle
I love cooking.  I spend long hours in the kitchen making up my own recipes.  Most of them are pretty good.  I love mixing flavors to make something new.  If there was one recipe that probably best describes me it would be a soufflé.

A soufflé is a light and fluffy baked cake that can be made savory or sweet.   It’s a complicated dish that is difficult for even a French chef to master.  Like me, a soufflé is not a simple recipe to create.

A soufflé is sophisticated and delicate.  It’s hard to keep puffy outside the oven because even just a loud noise can deflate a soufflé.  Sometimes I feel like I’m the same way.  I can be sensitive to my surroundings, and I can be easily spazzed out by loud noises. But, if all the conditions are right, I can rise high.

A soufflé is a unique dish, devoured by young and old.  I’m not saying that I’m devoured by young and old, but I do think that I’m definitely out-of-the ordinary.  My ideas are marvelously strange.

Even though making a soufflé can be a bit of trouble, the delicious results are well-worth it. Eating a soufflé is quite an experience.  It’s a fun dessert that can make people happy, JUST LIKE ME!

 

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