“Whatever your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you mine are far greater.”
– Albert Einstein,
On Monday, we got the results of A’s neuro/psych evaluation. I have to give a lot of credit to the doctor for wanting to spend an hour with both J and I to go over the results. He more or less insisted both of us be present, and as he was going over the results, I can understand where he was coming from. In his mind, he wanted to make sure there was buy in from both parents. I can understand this. Here before him are two middle aged people undertaking a huge task, the care and education of a young lady whom he know to have profound challenges when it comes to learning. I thought it charming as he was taking efforts to make sure both us of bought in and it was not going to ruin our marriage. Yes, we know it is hard and energy intensive.
Having gone through the marriage counseling, we got into the details. It seems the rather intense drug exposure before she was born acted as a general stressor on her neural network as it was forming. Because I think of the neural network from a complex system theory standpoint, I think of the entire neural network as a highway system. The drug exposure in my mind acted like ensuring the finest building materials would not be available for all of the first roads that form the basic structure for all subsequent roads. Thus, the signals are slowed. The effects of lower oxygenation of the blood prior to the fontan procedure compound the issues.
Then she had a stroke.
Now take all of the stressors on the system and imagine a localized incident. The system already has fewer pathways capable of transmitting more signals, and then a stroke comes to tear the fabric, putting a hole in the system. In A’s case it was not a stroke on the surface of the brain, but rather inside where a lot of deductive reasoning takes place. Overall, it explains a lot of with what we see her struggle.
She reads well, but everything is concrete. Ever read Amelia Bedelia books? Abstract ideas are near impossible. She reads well because she recognizes many words, but sounding them out is hard.
Maths…guess work unless she has memorized the results. We are spending a lot of time on home work…and it’s first grade. We need help, and frankly, we are not getting it or the feeling help is coming down the road. With all her effort and our effort, her IQ in many areas is low normal. The psychologist suggested private schooling for her, lamenting the timing of her tests. It would have been easier to get the state to pay for her schooling before she began public schooling because now the only way they pay is if the public schools fail to get her to progress. Now we have to find another way to help her.
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To me, the IQ measurement and tests are only suggesting a starting point and how easy it will be for her to increase knowledge. I think of my high school where I was far from the brightest bulb. I worked for hours every night on homework, my classmates completed in less than hour. At some point, there is a ceiling beyond which we are prevented from achieving by our genetics and luck. I am not convinced this battery of tests speaks to it as clearly as it seems on the surface. Resilience and perseverance count too.
With all being said sounding so bleak, it is important to me to maintain perspective. This is the same young lady who came to our house unable to even role over much less sit up, walk, run, read, and express herself. This same young woman knew her handwriting was not great so this weekend she started copying Flat Stanley in her notebook, word for word. She knows she has trouble with math so last night in the same notebook, she was writing out random arithmetic problems. Then she asked me to go over them with her. With each one she got correct without help, she wrote “L” next to it. For some jocks, this might mean a “loss,” but for her it is “Learned.” Leave it to A to change a loss into a life lesson.
Watching A strive, learn and grow constantly reminds me of another great quote. This one is from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”
This weeks post has been delayed neither for lack of desire to write nor for subject matter. It has been delayed by an over abundance of life. I was torn on whether I wanted to write about J’s mysteriously nasty cold/flu lending itself to a “One Flu Over the Cookoo’s House” type of heading or what dominates most of my mind’s attention of late. I decided the results of A’s neuro psych evaluation will dominate my thoughts for far longer than the tired I feel now or the time costing mistakes I seem to make when tired, and there have been many of those. I anticipate reading over the final report and trying to build my own understanding of how her brain works. Maybe I will even be lucky enough to understand better my own. We have a draft copy, but I have just lacked energy to read and comprehend at the level I need.