Month: February 2015
Yesterday, we had a meeting at the public high school with Dylan’s soon-to-be guidance counselor. We had a few questions, as I’m sure all incoming freshmen do. And while the counselor had many strong answers, he didn’t seem to know the answer to the underlying question that – I only realized yesterday – is plaguing my every move.
What should I do about my son who’s so brilliant that he’s bored, and so unfocused that he can’t turn in his simplest homework assignments?
Dylan hates school. He finds it to be incredibly boring. So I was thrilled to hear that he could take IB classes – classes that are made for college-bound, advanced-level thinkers like Dylan. These classes delve deeper than the standard, add a global perspective, and offer the flexibility of open-ended, written answers during testing.
For Dylan’s brain, these classes are perfect.
But Dylan has a writing issue. Because of his ADHD, he has trouble getting words onto paper without a computer. All of his IB classes would require constant writing. And while he is excellent at organizing his thoughts, he has issues with capitalization and punctuation. His ideas are exceptional. His writing is wonderful. His technical writing abilities are not.
And while his ideas would add much to the IB classes, and while he would enjoy the mental stimulation that comes with it, he has not proven that he’s capable of handling homework and class assignments responsibly enough for even the simplest of classes.
Dylan has yet to succeed in avoiding a “zero” in any class. He has not turned in all of his assignments on time in any class. Ever. He usually does the work. But he never seems to know that it’s due.
And no matter how much I have prodded him to talk to each teacher after class, to make sure he knows what to do and when to do it, he absolutely refuses. So he doesn’t know what’s due, or when to turn it in.
In GT/LD lingo, they call this a “lack of self-advocacy.”
So I can hardly suggest that we put Dylan into a top-level class with advanced-level work, since he is completely incapable of turning in his work.
The problem is not: Is Dylan able to handle IB work? The problem is, Is Dylan able to turn in ANY work?
And unfortunately, I simply have no idea.
The day after I found Dylan on his computer at 10:30 p.m. (an hour and a half after the turn-it-off deadline), we had the following conversation.
“Dylan, we need to talk about this electronics thing. It’s getting ridiculous.”
“You are on the iPad, iPod, cell phone or computer all the time! This can’t keep happening. You have always been good about following the rules. So do you want to tell me why you have broken the rule about turning off electronics twice in the past week?”
“I don’t know. I guess it’s because there’s like no other person in the world who’s my age who has any restrictions on electronics. I mean, they are on them all the time. Not one single person I know has to turn off their electronics ever, and I am the only one who has a time limit.”
“Well, maybe you need new friends, but it’s not about them. You are on some kind of electronic device every minute of every day, except when you’re in school. We never see you anymore! So for the next few weeks, you are on restriction. No electronics, except your cell phone, until February 15th. And then we’ll decide what to do.”
“Okay. I was kinda thinking about doing that anyway. I wanted to do something, because I knew I was just on there too much. But I just didn’t really know what I should do.”
“Good. So you’re okay with it.”
“Yeah. It’s just that sometimes I don’t feel like I have anything else to do. I really want to see my friends but you always say I can’t see them, and they really understand me. And I love Shane, I mean, he’s like my best friend. And you’re always on the computer and Daddy’s never here. But mostly I just want to do stuff with people my own age, and I don’t ever get to do that.”
“So you want to have your friends over more often?”
“Yeah, or go to their house or whatever.”
“And you’re okay having friends over without using electronics?”
“Yeah, because really all I do on electronics is talk to my friends. So if they’re here, we can just talk and do stuff.”
“Okay. So here’s my issue. Instead of telling me that you want your friends to come over in ten minutes, maybe you could let me know a day or two ahead of time. That way, we can schedule our family activities and you can still have friends over. Can you do that?”
“I can try. But sometimes people just want to come over in like ten minutes.”
“Well sometimes, that works. But sometimes we have other things planned. But I hear what you’re saying, and I will try to make more time for you to have friends over. And you try to tell me in advance, if you can. Okay?”
And that was that. No yelling, no arguments. All kinds of mutual respect, and a new understanding for what’s going on with my son. Awesome.