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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.

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!



John and I came upstairs after watching TV the other night and found a note hanging at eye-level in the kitchen doorway.


I laughed out loud and called into the other room to see if John had seen it.  “Yes,” he replied, “but I didn’t read it.”  I noticed Lily’s clever engineering, dangling the notebook at just the right height from the balcony above using fishing line.  Fishing line?  I didn’t even know we owned any fishing line.  I imagined Lily scurrying around quietly, carrying out her plan, while we thought she was asleep.  
Lily is always hatching some kind of strange but clever plan.  Sometimes, I’m not sure she consciously knows she’s planning something.  It’s like something inside her compels her to carry out these creative missions without any forethought.  She never tells us when one of her plans is underway, so then she gets frustrated if we unknowingly interrupt her or if say, Dad throws away the special stick she was saving to carve into a native American fishing spear, or we’ve moved (aka put away) the tape, glue, paper, pipe cleaners, etc. that she had planned to use for some masterpiece.
Last summer, Lily kept complaining about growing pains.  One day, when I dropped her off at daycare, I noticed a flash of purple peeking out of her socks.  I called her back to the car and discovered that her ankles were wrapped with purple duct tape.  “It makes my legs feel better and makes me run faster,” she told me.  She probably kept that tape around her ankles for a week.
This summer, we went away for the weekend as a family.  The first night, when we laid down in the hotel room, I noticed that Lily had a little plastic makeup bag she kept opening and sniffing.  Weird. When I asked her what she was doing, her little sister told me that Lily was smelling what was inside the bag to remind her of home.  Lily wouldn’t tell me what was in the bag, but she said that it relaxed her.  OhhhKaaay.  Whatever it was, I knew that somehow she secretly scrambled around the house to prepare it before we left. The girl can barely remember to put on shoes before we leave the house, but she sure didn’t forget to mix up some homemade spices and put them in a makeup bag so she could sniff them in a hotel room.  I still don’t know exactly what was in the bag and I guess I don’t really want to know, but when we came home I did find an empty jar of mustard seed.
Many of Lily’s mysterious plans involve cinnamon, lemon and the kitchen. I had to put a ban on her concoctions for awhile because of the messes she left behind.  She’s definitely not a ‘by the book’ cook.  She dreams up crazy drinks and soups that are actually pretty delicious.  One night, she was especially excited to have us sample the dessert she had made. She coated Honey Bunches of Oats with melted chocolate chips, put the mixture inside a biscuit-cutter to form it, sprinkled it with kosher salt and put it in the freezer to set up.  It was really good!
I came home from work this week and was greeted by Lily wearing a suit jacket and skirt and carrying a notebook and pen.  She told me that she was a newspaper reporter and wanted to interview me about the recent rash of bear visits in our neighborhood.  Later that night, she presented us with her newspaper article, which for a twice exceptional kid who has difficulty with writing because of her fine motor issues and Executive Function problems, was amazing.
Back to the skinny jeans–we bought her a few pair for school.  Lily puts her outfits together like she cooks.  Crazy combos that work, usually involving a jaunty hat and a poncho flourish.  She definitely has a funky style, but I know her skinny jean note was prompted by the approach of middle school.  Argh.
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