Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Boys, Learning and AD(H)D

A few weeks ago (well actually a couple of months ago now) I had my first parent/teacher conference with Zeke's 1st grade teacher and special resources teacher.

They were both very complimentary about his character and his overall attitude and respect for his classmates, teachers and other authority.

This mama's heart was beaming!

Now we all know that Zeke has some emotional and learning hurdles.  So it came as no surprise to me when, after the initial "Zeke is such a SWEET boy" comments, we dove head first into these issues.

Zeke's classroom teacher had just done some major studies on ADHD and was SUPER insightful.  This insight, along with the knowledge and expertise of Ms. Williams (his special resources teacher) have a great system for him.

In that short meeting I learned some interesting things about the way my boy learns and thought I'd pass them on.  It's always nice to hear that your boy isn't just crazy and that some kids really do learn differently, not just concerning curriculum or hands-on techniques, but things their body does WHILE being taught.

Ms. Williams does a lot in her room to help Zeke focus on his work throughout the day.  He is with her an average of 3-4 hours a day working on his reading, writing, processing issues and dyslexia.

She allows him to do work while:
bouncing on a ball
laying down with a clipboard
laying across a chair

All of these activities help engage his core, which triggers blood flow to his brain, which enables him to focus on the task at hand.  Now, instead of getting irritated with his natural tendencies to flail around on his chair and squirm to get focused, I try to bite my tongue embrace his uniqueness, knowing that this is the way that he will learn best.

Both of his teachers mentioned a thing called a "fidget".  This can be anything that occupies his hands to keep them moving and occupied so he doesn't get distracted with little things around him.  It could be a piece of Velcro sewn inside of a hoodie pocket, hand sanitizer in a baggie, a small gadget that moves back and forth.  It should be something that is easily concealed, so as not to draw attention or make the child self-conscious or embarrassed.

Zeke's fidget default is to pull the hair on the back of his head.  When he gets tense or anxious he's been known to pull hand fulls of hair out without eve realizing it.  That is one reason why we have been keeping his hair short.  The fidget keeps his hands occupied in a positive way to enable his brain to function in a more focused capacity.

Zeke's classroom teacher has also been very helpful in finding ways to keep Zeke's attention in positive, helpful ways.  They have a secret code (or hand motion).  If they make eye contact and Zeke shows his secret code to her she will, in turn, reply with the secret code which gives Zeke the okay to go get a sip of water, be a "helper" and grab her something off of her desk for her, or any other task that she can think of for him to do, in order to refocus and regroup.  Just this quick little errand helps to get the blood flowing to the brain again, and allows his teacher to continue to teach without interruption.

~ it's all about engaging the core ~ 
~ it's all about blood flow to the brain ~ 
~ it's all about positive "fidgeting" ~

Now when I catch Zeke hanging upside down on his head I'm not just realizing that this is one of the "warning signs" for these learning disabilities, but rather a natural way his body reacts to get that blood flowing to help him stay smart:)

Besides, superheros think better upside down anyway!
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