Tuesday, June 05, 2012

IEP Meeting -- Attention Deficit

Both times Maggie was evaluated by psychologists regarding her learning disabilities, we were told that she has ADD.  Really?  I'm just not seeing it.  When they told me this in California, I attributed the diagnosis to a screw-up in the evaluation procedure or the scoring of the test.  But they came up with the same findings again this spring.

However, the psychologist informed me of something else this spring -- Maggie's abysmal "processing speed."  I believe this accounts for the so-called problem of attention deficit.

When the kids tried to teach me the game of Munchkins, I couldn't understand.  I couldn't learn.  There was too much unfamiliar to me.  There were no "learning hooks" to which I could connect the new information they were giving me.  It was ALL new.  And it quickly became muddled.

My friend Glenda wrote about her recent trip to Germany, and how she fared during church services where she didn't speak the language.  Yes, she grasped parts of it.  Yes, God was still giving to her even when she was lost.  But given the thoughts swirling in my mind in wake of our IEP meeting, what struck me most was how Glenda (a grown woman who loves to sit through church every Sunday) had the wiggles and had to struggle to pay attention. 

I usually have very good hearing.  But sometimes you're in a room that is particularly noisy and you miss a lot of what the other person is saying.  You grab some of the message by lip reading, by facial expressions and body language, and you catch some of the words.  But it's awfully hard work to pay attention and get it all.  (I don't know how my mom does it!  She's impressive.)  It's hard to think about what the person says when you're expending so much energy just trying to hear it.

So now, if you're a girl whose brain just doesn't go as fast as other people's brains, you need more time.  And if you can't slow 'em down, pretty soon you're just going to quit paying attention.  That's not ADD.  That's a perfectly normal reaction. 

PS:  This is another example of how ADD is being overdiagnosed.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Learning Munchkins

The kids loved the game Munchkins.  Several years ago they arm-twisted invited me to join them.  "Oh, it's easy, Mom.  It's not like those strategy games you don't like.  You can learn this!"

So we sat down to play.  They were trying to teach me.  But there was all this stuff about elves and ogres and trolls and different kinds of characters -- vocabulary that wasn't part of my daily life, that's for sure.  I remember how the kids patiently explained the rules, the cards, the characters.  I remember how they patiently walked me through the game, as a big sister might do for the 3-yr-old who's learning to play Candyland. 

And it made no sense.

Granted, at that point, things were a wee bit stressful in life.  And this was too much.  I didn't understand anything they were telling me.  Not about how the game worked.  Nor about the kinds of creatures that were part of the game.  Nothing.  I ended up putting my head down on the table and crying.  I thought my head would explode with all the details that were a jumble in my brain. 

I think I spent an hour lying on my bed and crying, distraught that I was simply unable to comprehend.  "What's happened to my mind?  I used to be able to do anything I determined to do.  This is just a game.  A game that kids can play.  And it's entirely beyond me!"

We moved.  Things have become more stable.  A year ago, I was capable of learning the procedures at work.  Even in the upheaval of moving, I managed (eventually) to learn where the foil and the mixing bowls were tucked away in the new kitchen.  This past Christmas, Matt & Rachel bought our family a cool board game that I enjoyed playing.  It is conceivable (!) that I might be able to learn Munchkins now. 

But I don't know to.  The memories are bad.  The fear of failure remains.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

IEP Meeting -- Where's the Bar?

So, at the IEP meeting, the testers explained where Maggie scored in comparison to other kids. 

They told us that her reading level was 8th grade.  When I was testing her reading level a couple of months ago, I determined 4th or 5th grade. 

They told us that her math level was late 6th grade.  She's managing in the 4th-grade Saxon book.  She's about 3/4 of the way through.  We've been on it for over two years now.  And the school folks are telling me she's scoring two years ahead of where I think she is.

On the one hand, woo hoo for Maggie that she's doing okay.

On the other hand, what does this say about the kids at the school, if what I call 4th-grade work is what their teachers call 7th-grade work??  And what does this say for the society that these kids will be part of?