Monday, August 31, 2009

Parental Predicament

Me and son, Jackson at 2 1/2 years old.
Photo by camilynnephotography

My first son was born to me when I was not much more than a child myself. I felt so grown up at twenty, but today after attending my first day back at college in six years, it struck me just how young twenty really is. But ready or not, God sent me this boy and I needed him just as much as he needed me in order for us both to grow up.

When Jackson started sleeping in his own room at around five months, his cooing every morning served as a gentle wake up call. I would stagger out of bed and go into his room, greeting him with a smile and chipper, "Hey you!" as I swooped my baby into my arms. A month went by and our morning ritual proceeded as usual. Cooing. Staggering out of bed. A big smile and a "Hey you!" But I was shocked when my son replied back to me with a loud and clear, "Hey you!" just as if he were a little parakeet. I went to my child rearing books immediately to research when the average baby says their first words and six months wasn't even close. He continued to mimic my "Hey you!" from there on out as his vocabulary grew. I always had felt that my son was special, as most mothers do, but this was something unusual.

As he grew into toddlerhood, many adults commented on how impressive his vocabulary and ability to speak were. I always felt so proud, but inside I knew that I had nothing to do with it. I never spent time teaching him the alphabet, or eloquent words. His gift came prepackaged with his spirit. When he was three I noticed his ability to draw exceptionally well. Soon, he could draw with more detail and accuracy than even I could. Again people marveled, and I wondered how this was possible when I did not go to any special length to train him in the area of art.

When Jackson started school I expected that he would excel. The Glediator and I even wondered about having him tested to skip a grade. But things are not always what we expect them to be. Jackson had a difficult time focusing and even more surprising, fell behind the class in reading. Taking tests proved to be a challenge and my pride over my "genius" son was squashed. We worked on Jackson's challenges and praised his strengths at the same time.

Things seemed to improve for awhile. But his new third grade teachers called me in last week for a special parent/teacher conference. He is having a very difficult time focusing on simple tasks. If a set of three easy instructions are given, he will still be on number one, when the rest of the class is finished, and can't remember what number two is. He sketches dragons during classwork time, can't finish math on a first-grade level, disrupts lessons with a comedy routine, and tends to act like the leader of the pack.

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I think that this behavior might mean that Jackson has a leader's personality. He also has a creative personality and fabulous artistic abilities. He enjoys making people laugh. But after his teachers suggested I take him to get tested for a learning disability, I wonder if I should take this more seriously.

It's too soon to say whether or not this is very serious. He may just be adjusting to the structure of a classroom after such a lazy summer. But as I figure this out, I could use your help. How can I help my son without taking away the beautiful, natural born aspects of his personality? How can I help him behave appropriately in a structured environment? If any of you have been through a similar situation, or have studied childhood development, I am seeking your expertise. If you can recommend a book, a great pediatrician, or any ideas/advice, I welcome all of it. ("Birthathomemom," where are you these days?)


  1. All my boys have similar issues with focusing and staying on task, so this could just as easily have been me being called in for a conference. My tendency is to not want to know if there is a diagnosible disorder, because then there will be a label attached to the child, and ignorance is bliss, right? But that probably (definitely) isn't the right approach in every situation, so I would say that no one but you and the Gled can decide bes how to proceed. Good luck! You'll do the right thing.

  2. Mindy... your son sounds gifted. I have been having my own set of struggles... terrible ones. I'd LOVE to follow your story and swap notes with you (even just via email). A lot of what you described shocked me because you described my Ethan (yes, the very Ethan who still has a crush on you and thinks you're the coolest girl in the world because you wrote to him on my blog!!)

    My Ethan is so similar. He started speaking at about 8 months. A mere ten months later, he was speaking in complete and complex sentences. By age 2 he could name every street sign in the city (Stop, yield, hospital, one way, do not enter, etc.) He was very symbolically oriented and could name ANY place of business simply by looking at its business logo. He could also (at age 2) walk through a long parking lot (like Costco) and name the make of every car in the lot because he understood the symbols on the car.

    At age 3, he began reading. I never sat down and taught him to read. (I did read TO him everyday.) He cracked the reading code all on his own. Today, at age 7-1/2, he can read out of the newspaper and other things flawlessly and without any help. I'm not sure what grade level he reads at, but it's probably at least middle school level.

    At age 4, I put him in preschool for a few months. He hated it. The teacher felt that he should be worked up for autism because he couldn't sit still and wouldn't socialize. He wanted to lay down during circle time. She'd pair him up with another child to play with and as soon as she'd turn her back he'd play by himself and ignore the other child.

    I had him worked up and the results were on the fence, but they agreed that he was likely clinically gifted.

    When it came time for Kindergarten, I just couldn't send him to school... I was so absolutely TERRIFIED that his creative, bright light would be snuffed out. So I homeschooled him for K and 1st.

    But here we are in a new school year. He wants to go to school and my husband wants him in school. I'm TERRIFIED about this. He starts the 2nd grade this week. Like your son, my draws ALL the time and is WAY behind in math, he HATES to write, and gets very overwhelmed with instructions and other things. My son also tries to be humorous and crack jokes all the time.

    Ethan also gets overwhelmed when noise gets out of control. Even when I homeschooled him, he couldn't even have soft music on in the background or he'd cover his ears and cry. He's a beautiful, brilliant little boy... he just manifests his brilliance in ways that are contrary to school room rules and norms. Like you, I have always understood that this is special (a "different" special).

    I don't know why I shared all this with you. I felt like I needed to. I am scared to death for him this week. It will be his first time in a formal classroom and I'm so terrified that what I see as brilliance and individuality will be seen by others as a nuisance or a disruption or a problem. My heart is heavy. If you come across any good info, I'm all ears. I'll share any findings with you as well.

    In the meantime... I'll keep your Jackson in my prayers!

  3. I am new to your blog, but my heart goes out to you - and your son. Obviously, he is gifted and has a different learning style. Is it possible for you to homeschool him and teach to his strengths? Individualized education is not possible in a public school setting. But those that know and love your son best (parents, grandparents, etc.) can be inspired in how to teach him what is most important for him to learn.

  4. Oh Mindy, this must be so frustrating for you and Jackson. I don't have any advice, my son is about the same age as Jackson, but we've faced differnet issues.

    I just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you. Negotiating motherhood can be so difficult at times, not knowing what choices to make.

    I hope the teachers aren't making Jackson feel different or singling him out. I hope he continues through his childhood feeling speical, smart and wonderful!

  5. I am going through something so similar with my Jackson right now. His teacher calls him a "space cadet" so loving right? They think he has ADD, don't all little boys? I am at a loss with what to do also. I know that he does just learn differently,I wonder how much is just about behavior modification. I personally think that my Jackson might have a audio processing problem-which means that when she is telling him the 3rd instruction his brain is literally still processing the 1st instruction. We are trying to figure it out....

    Maybe the teacher needs to modify instuctions for him face to face so that he understands. Just because a child struggles in one way does not mean he isn't gifted in another. Einstein didn't read till he was 9! And struggled all through school. I personally think that even though the "school world" tends to not adapt to little boys creative energy the social skills learned in school are unmatched. I am so glad you posted this- I am in need of help myself.

    Heavens! What is it like the 3rd week of school? Teachers a little patience please?

    Raising Cane is an interesting book.

    ssshish sorry for the long comment.....

  6. geez, you'd think I could learn how to spell. sorry for all the errors!

  7. Hello Mindy!
    Warning! I am VERY VERY opinionated on this subject. My experience comes from working briefly in the world of neurofeedback/biofeedback, and my own struggles with being labeled both gifted or disabled.
    First, let's start with this. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DISABLED. I hate to sound all PC on this, but there isn't. The better and proper term would be "Learns Differently."
    Your son is clearly quite ABLE to do many different things. So why would we label him disabled? That's just ridiculous.
    Also, I despise the term attention deficit disorder! Did you know people with ADD are actually able to handle way more incoming stimuli than a "normal" person? The so-called "deficit" is actually a deficit in stimuli. The ADD brain gets quickly bored with the limited amount of incoming stimuli and makes up for it by creating more stimuli.
    Your son is clearly stimulated by art and sounds. So why would anyone think that a typical, boring, stimuli-limited classroom would work well for his type of brain?
    Put him in an arts filled environment, where pictures and sounds can teach him math and writing. He will be captivated! I bet anything that if you were to sit him down to do his homework with his favorite music playing nearby he can probably do his homework much easier than when he is forced to sit at a table and concentration in quiet. His poor little brain must get so bored! It needs more to do!
    Unfortunately we do live in a world where teachers rule classrooms and are forced to pander to the majority's learning style. Which is when and why biofeedback is a fabulous way for him to learn to use all the parts of his brain as well as he uses his arts core. Here's a link to understanding the basics of biofeedback - And here's a link to understanding it as a therapy for ADD or other "learning disabilities."
    This is a non-medical route to teaching your child to embrace his own skills, and to use the rest of his brain as well.
    Don't get me wrong. I'm also a fan of using Ritalin (as someone with serious "ADD", I live for the stuff). But I would never recommend taking a pill for anything brain related without proper and actual therapy as well!

  8. Hi Mindy, I'm a good friend of Lisa Clarks, that's how I'm here. . .anyway, the dentist I work for has a daughter that sounds like your son, she is now a freshman in high school. As we've talked over the years, she has been through several diagnoses.

    Basically she is highly gifted/ADHD. I think the best (hardest) thing to do is have teachers that understand how the brain works in these children. The book that my friend has loved is called "Right-Brained children in a left-brained world". You may see if there are other schooling possibilites as well, I know here in Nebraska we have several art schools, environment learning schools, schools that focus on interaction learning, anything BUT book/lecture learning. Unfortunately the No Child Left Behind act puts a hinderance on a lot of public school programs being able to do some of these things.

    I hope you're able to find a way for your son to love learning, he's obviously gifted and will do amazing things in the world. My friend has been so facinated in learning about how the brain works that she is quitting dentistry and going back to school to study brain-based learning in order to help teachers understand that we all can't learn from a book. Best of luck to you, and what a great mommy you are!!

  9. It sounds like his talents definitely lie in art and creative abilities. However, I wouldn't give up on a traditional school just yet; it is good to stretch a little and try things different ways. I would definitely check into an arts-based charter school. Most charters have a teacher and an aid per class, which would give him more individualized attention. I would also try to find a school that teaches Saxon math, since it uses a lot of drawing and coloring to express math concepts (at least in kindergarten and 1st grade... that's where my daughter is now). Keep praying and searching and you'll find something that fits. Good luck!

  10. i would definitely look into dyslexia. my grandpa, uncles and sister all have it. it is so much more than just seeing letters differently. and the things your son struggles with sounds extremely similar. there is a book called "the gift of dyslexia" and it has really helped my sister. it is not a learning disability at all, rather, they learn in a completely different way, that schools just don't teach. but i must say, some of the most brilliant people i know, have it. good luck! :)

  11. Andrew and I were discussing what you and I had talked about the other day.. and he said that he had noticed that Jackson gets discouraged very easily (referring to skateboarding, something he loves even).. that if it doesn't work out the way he wants, he wants to quit.. or give up (perhaps this is a lack of inner self confidence?) Maybe he's the same way if he doesn't get the school work right away? I don't know, Andrew was just trying to offer his 2 cents.. and also told me that he thinks reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People would help. He swears by that book, for anything, & EVERYTHING (I'm not even kidding.. Andrew loves his 7 Habits soap box). Anyway, we love you guys, and LOVE Jackson! We want him to be happy! Best of luck Mindy, you have a wonderful son, and you're a wonderful mom! (:

  12. Mindy, I feel for ya. ADHD runs in my husbands family so we were looking for it with our kids. When we put my son on medication, it seemed to take away his creativity too. I hate it. But I also hate his behavior when he doesn't have something. I know that you can try an elimination diet to see if maybe something is affecting him that way. I suggest going to the library and checking out as many books as you can on learning disabilities and diet. I hope this helps and you find the answers you're looking for.

  13. Hi Mindy,

    Your old roomie Emily here. I am working with a school that is a multi-age private school that is very small. It is individualized and project based. My 1st grader is there and loves it. There are 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders. The class size is limited to 10 and there a couple of more slots. I'd love to tell you more if you need a school option. I've found that we have to honor our children and their strengths and weaknesses. We need to be their best cheer leaders and work with the rest of the world to keep their confidence and passion for learning high. I love the way your described him and would love to have him as a student if I was a teacher.

  14. Standardization is foreign to our nature. My advice would be to not teach him to feel a need to "measure up" by comparison and competition. So much evil has been done in the world because of those things and it's high time we left those behind in the bygone era where they belong. Then he can fill the measure of his creation without participating in the plague of self-recrimination that affects so many. If you can manage it I'd recommend taking him out and try a more enlightened approach such as unschooling or Waldorf, which nurture the whole person and not just the part that works for external rewards. I'm opinioned on this topic, too.

  15. Jackson is amazing!!! I know you'll figure things out.

    I have an awesome pediatrician though if you need it. He was right on top of things when it came to my kids various needs.

    Dr. Jeff Jensen - Utah Valley Pediatrics - (801)373-8930
    They are open 8-5 and have "In Office" after hours, so no Emergency room visits. So great.

  16. Perhaps Montessori School might work for him?

  17.'ve received tons of great advice here.
    I am good friends with ~j. and came here through her and the ceej.
    I've worked Pediatrics for 22 years...I have a 13 year old daughter who struggles greatly with focus and learning. I wish I would have gotten her help sooner. I just figured she was a girl, the youngest, an airhead (though she is very smart)....etc.
    I would look into non-traditional schooling.

    Also, make an appointment to see Dr. Ron Jones (semi-retired pediatrician who now sees kids with focus and learning struggles). Trust me on this...I've worked with him for years. This is his specialty.

  18. Mindy-
    I have thought about your post all day long and still do not have words to say what is in my brain. I will say that my oldest son had similar issues. I believe it was in 3rd grade that his teacher asked if we would consider having him tested for ADHD. My husband and I decided that he is a creative, smart BOY and we did not want to medicate him to make life easier for a teacher. Besides, we didn't want him labeled as ?? (whatever diagnosis they would come up with). Other teachers he has had since then have really understood him and worked with him to fit his individual needs. What it came down to (and this is completely based on mine and my husband's opinions) is that he was bored. I had to homeschool him for a week in the third grade in order to follow through on a threat and he LOVED it because there was always something to do and at his own pace.

    Anyway... your Jackson is his own unique person. He has different needs and abilities than any other person on the planet. As his mom I think you will make the best decisions for him and, ultimately, nothing I say here will make any difference because I don't know your boy like you know your boy and his abilities.

    But he sounds awesome.

  19. Mindy, as a 2nd grade teacher with lots of boys who have these same problems, it sounds to me more like ADD than a learning disability... (but then again, I'm no doctor). Sometimes children respond better in different environments, but boys especially have a harder time focusing in school... and some teachers do not like that and try to unfairly label the students. I think testing is always good just to rule out the possibilities, but I think Jackson may take after you and be a "creative soul" who may need a different learning environment (which requires an understanding, open-minded teacher). I have one boy that prefers not to sit in a chair, and I'm fine with that. Today, he sat under his desk for 30 minutes humming while I taught the math lesson... whatever. I don't fight him, I just give him homework and he does it later (maybe not the best solution!) But I think there's definitely something going on, but I think it's more ADD-ish... he might just need medication to help him focus. (I could be totally wrong, I'm just going off of what I've seen in the classroom). Good luck, and don't give up on him!

  20. Hi Mindy. I randomly found your blog a few weeks ago and have been following ever since. I'm in grad school to become a speech/language pathologist and we focus a lot on child development and language learning. Something that struck me about your entry is that he is unable to follow 3-step commands. The ability to follow 3-step commands is something that we evaluate preschoolers and early elementary school children for. Though his vocab is good, that doesn't automatically translate to something called phoneme/grapheme awareness. Phonemes are the sounds in our language and graphemes are the symbols(letters) which represent those sounds. If a child is advanced in speech(able to produce the sounds at an early age) and even if the child knows the meaning of the spoken words, that doesn't mean he will be advanced in recognizing the symbols(letters) that represent those words. The same is with numbers. In the brain, numbers work the same way letters do; They are symbols that represent a meaning. If the child has a hard time tying the symbol to the meaning then they might have a hard time in math. Often, problems with math are a result of difficulties with reading. Even though he seemed advanced in language, have you thought about having him evaluated by a speech/language pathologist? Also, a lot of time, behavior problems in school are caused by hearing impairments. Sometimes children will be unable to hear the teacher and they are just plain bored and frustrated. Even just a slight hearing loss can be a huge problem for children if it is left undiagnosed. Typically, if children are evaluated by a speech/language pathologist, they will also be screened for hearing loss. They probably did it recently at his school as well, but that is something to be aware of if they haven't done a screening on him. I'm not familiar with Utah laws or the role of SLPs in the school system, but advocate for your child to receive an evaluation whether through school or through a referral from your pediatrician.
    As for what you can do for him now and anytime, I think one of the best things you can do for him is to continue to praise him for what he excels at. Give him confidence in himself by telling him that he has special talents that not all children have and encourage him to use his creativity in other areas as well.

    Anyway, I hope I made sense and good luck. I hope I explained things adequately enough.

  21. Hi Mindy, I'm such a fan of your music you have the most beautiful voice. I was surprised to read your blog post as we just had our almost 4 yr old son evaluated today for development and speech delay. It was hard for me to come to that decision because I felt like I was being disloyal to my son and worried he might think I didn't think that he was very smart, which is quite the contrary as I half expected the doctor to turn around and tell me off for bringing him in as he was infact a genius. From our visit we became armed with some amazing information he will hopefully be receiving speech therapy and possibly medication for ADHD in a year when he is a little older. The doctor did praise him on how advanced he is in other areas though so that was nice. It sounds like Jackson is a smartie and he will just take off when he gets the right tools to connect everything developmentally. I just hope you know you are not alone so many mothers feel your worry and despair knowing the best thing they should do I prayed so hard for our son and have been amazed at the route in which we have found some help. Good luck! Thank you for sharing your dilemna as it has been my own but a little further along the journey I can tell you I see a light.

  22. As a parent of a child with special needs ( much much different than Jackson's) I would recommend having him checked. If he does have a learning disability of any kind, the SOONER you help him the better. Hes young and able to learn new ways to approach learning. Its easier now, than when hes in high school and having even more difficulties. And if he has a learning disability of any kind, the doesn't mean hes not incredibly intelligent. We're all wired differently. Good luck.

  23. Also, I hate to discuss your school, because honestly, our kids attend some of the best elementary schools in the state, but are you aware of the Walden school? It's a charter school in our neck of the woods that focuses on liberal arts. Just a thought.

  24. Mindy, this was me all the way up until I hit seventh grade. I never excelled in school, and almost every teacher I had would tell my mother that I should be tested for ADD.

    While I believe that some children do need medication for this particular disability, I also believe that it's more often used as the catch-all answer to not knowing how to deal with children. I never took medication, and never got tested.

    Actually, I did get tested--it was an IQ test in middle school. We found out that I'm one or two points below "genius" level.

    You're kid is fine. Don't get him tested, don't put him on meds, and don't listen to teachers who freak out when kids don't behave exactly the way everyone expects them to. You have stewardship over your son, and the Spirit will guide you in how best to help him grow up healthy and reach his full potential.

    A lot of other people have given you much more concrete advice, so all I can offer is the experience of BEING much like your child when I was young. I wasn't homeschooled or put into any special programs. My mom just followed her heart and ended up being exactly who I needed her to be. She lives very close to God. So do you. You'll be fine.

  25. Hi Mindy,
    this is birthathomemom, although I don't know if my post will say that or not (wordpress switched my ID when I started a second blog that I don't post to).

    Personally, I would homeschool him. Since I know that may be just a wee bit difficult at present, I would try to find a very relaxed charter school that will allow him to explore learning on his own terms.


    There are a lot of things that school is good for. Generally, school is not made for boys. Girls tend to suceed more at school for a few reasons, here are three:
    1. girls like to please people. They will do things just to please someone and no other reason. They want their teachers to like them. These ideas don't even really enter a boy's head.
    2. Girls have better hearing. They can hear softer noises, and they can also hear higher sounds better. Teachers tend to be female with high soft voices. Boys honestly just can't hear them as well as girls can (this is another reason why boys like loud noises).
    3.Girls tend to be able to write (hand eye cordnation) earlier. Often boys don't get this for a long, long time.

    No one is normal. In school, they want everyone to be average. They want everyone to fit a mold. Your son does not fit the mold, nor does most any child. Children learn to get by, and for a lot of them, they turn a part of themselves off to do it.

    I do not believe there is anything wrong with your son. He is wonderful and amazing, I am sure. What does God think of him? This is the way you need to see him.

    School also tends to look at what is wrong, instead of what is right about a child.

    I would suggest that you read Mulitple Intelligences by Howard Gardner.

    I so wish that I had a simple answer for you. I know that you are experiencing a lot of mixed emotions. If you want to talk about things further you can email me erinbehnke (@) yahoo(dot)com

  26. Mindy!!! First of all I am a big fan of your songs and your ability to write. AMAZING! when I read your Blog I found myself feeling sick all over. I was in this exact situation a few years ago with my little boy. We had him in a private school with only 10 kids in his class so his teacher was able to pick-up the fact that he was "struggling". (He was in kindergarten at the time he is now 8). We had him tested. ADHD!!!! I was scared and unsure of what to-do. What about my sweet boy how would this affect him, and his future. I was mostly worried about his confidence. He is so gifted and athletic. The thought of putting my boy on meds made me a little nervous. We tried all natural stuff for about 6 months. Not a big change. I fasted and prayed my husband and I went to the temple (This is His Future we are talking about here). I decided to try the meds. WHAT A BLESSING!!!! My little boy’s pediatrician explained to me that it’s much like diabetic taking insulin. The private school was getting to be too much for him academically. I was unsure of what to do. The next day I got a phone call from a charter school. They had an opening. This was 1st grade. Throughout this process I learned that a high percent of kids with ADD or ADHD also have a form of Dyslexia. Yes there are many forms. Who knew right? My Sweet boy was tested and yes he has a “Form of Dyslexia” It just so happened that a friend of mine is a teacher for dyslexic kids. We did tutoring for about two years. He is no longer in tutoring and is doing well. I have always celebrated his gifts. He thinks its COOL that his brain can think of many different things at one time. He is amazing and wonderful and although it has been a struggle, I love that he learns outside of the box! He is so bright!!! (YOU should Google all of the amazing people who have ADD/ADHD/ Dyslexia) it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing your child to other children. Schools tend to continually compare and test children. Administrators and teachers may falsely assume all kinds of notions based on the result of those tested and comparisons. I am always reminding myself that my child’s worth can’t be measured by a grade, or a test score, or his ability to play the piano, or kick a soccer ball. PRAYER!!!!! You know your child. Ask your Father in Heaven to help you know what’s best for your child and his potential. He has gifts that need to be nurtured and valued. My son just started 3rd grade and doing well, but most of all he is happy and confident. (If you need any contact info let me know)

  27. My daughter Madelyn is my free-spirit. Fiercely independent, gregarious, flitting from one thing to the other. As I have watched her grow up I recognized from a very young age, that while these were amazing bits of personality inside this tiny body, they would get her in trouble someday. Yet, if you look throughout history, where would we be if it weren't for people like her? All the time my heart aches because I have to find this beautiful balance for her to be this explosively gorgeous personality and to be able to also fit in the world. It is hard. I don't want to destroy this incredible spirit of hers - and yet, I somehow need to tame it or guide her somehow to know when it is appropriate and when it is not to unleash all of her amazingness. I also can't help but mourn my own much like her...yet from a young age forced to conform...and so my natural instinct is to NOT try to curtail her vivaciousness....sigh::::::

    I read a book called the Ephraims Child and it helped me immensely...I am still constantly addressing this subject in our home as it is always evolving. One of the first concepts of the book is to reroute your thinking in terms of more positive descriptions regarding your child (which you seem to already have a good grasp on!) and then channeling those tendencies into positive adult character traits. I read it a long time ago. I don't know if it will help you in your situation, but it helped me when Madelyn was very young.

  28. Hi Mindy,
    Wow, you have amazing friends! I clicked iver from b's blog. I have to agree with b and azucar. Find the right school and amazing things will happen. b's right on the money with the pediatrician check also.

    My 11 year old who just started middle school yesterday (yikes!) has a fairly severe speech issue. He didn't speak til he was 4 and a half, read at three, created his own version of sign to communicate and even started writing before pre-school. When it came time for regular school, I got him into the best one around. He lasted til 2nd grade. Because of his speech issue, they didn't want to cultivate his gifts. So, I moved him to a charter school that was character based and he blossomed! Things began to slow for him this year there, so we had the option of moving him to their middle school and took it. As parents, we have so many options for our children. I'd look at a student advocate who knows the ins and outs of the system to see what's available before your son gets pigeon-holed. He sounds like he's brilliant and just learns differently.

  29. If I were in your position I would be inclined to get my child tested to know what I am dealing with, for me to know the best way to help him and to stop others possibly seeing my child as a 'problem' or 'disruptive'. A friend has recently had her six year old child diagnosed with aspergers and she feels relieved; her child isn't naughty, he is highly intelligent but sees the world differently and she can now understand why he acts a little differently. I can't really comment on your schooling system as I'm from the UK, here we have great support systems and one-on-one help in our classrooms for children who need it. I hope you find the best way forward for you and Jackson.

  30. It sounds like your son has some amazing talents! Enjoy them and enjoy him! Love him and teach him, allow him to excel at the talents that he has been given and don't worry about the others. We don't always fit the mould, nor should we need to. It's okay to be unique. Regardless of the label that the medical profession may or may not give your son it won't change him. And the best part is that he doesn't have to change who he is because we have a loving Heavenly father who intended for each of us to be different and to except one another’s differences. There is a bigger plan for each of us and reasons why thing are the way they are, nothing is left to chance. Whatever challenges may lie ahead for your son find comfort in knowing that he chose them because he knew he would be able to handle them.

  31. Mindy, this post and the comments here are fascinating to me. My daughter Madeline (14) just started her freshman year and she has been struggling in school since the 3rd grade, when her teacher noted that she was a "lazy child" [nice huh?] She has since struggled to meet the expectations that are set for her in public schooling. I am constantly wondering what I can do to help her, but have come up with no great ideas, now after reading all of these comments, I am thinking that I need to look into some private schools we have here.

    She is a creative young woman who loves to make things with her hands and adores music. She struggles with math especially, as well as reading. I can see her wonderful qualities and talents but expecting the school system to see them has only left me disappointed. At home we struggle with her because she can be very frustrating and it is often hard to understand the choices she makes. We often call her a "free spirit" because she certainly doesn't fit the norm, and that's okay.

    There are a couple of books that I have been meaning to read but haven't yet:

    "The Edison Trait: Saving the Spirit of Your Free Thinking Child in a Conforming World" by Lucy Jo Palladino

    "When The Labels Don't Fit: A New Approach to Raising a Challenging Child" by Barbara Probst

    Thanks for opening up this dialogue. Having a child who I don't know how to help has been one of the biggest challenges of my life.

  32. Whatever you do, ask the teacher to give you the pictures of the dragons. Those are important.

  33. huggggggssss...I am going through similiar things at this very moment

  34. My husband has ADHD and school has kind of always been like that for him. He's so smart and will learn or know information backwards and forwards and still flunk a test. It's just hard to concentrate on things that for some reason. Medications didn't work for him so well but he thrives at things that are more hands on. Schooling is a more rigid, set type of learning that sometimes is hard for a kid who doesn't learn that way. That doesn't mean they're not darn smart! That's amazing that your son spoke so early. And he's cute as cute! Best of luck-

  35. Mindy, I linked over from b's blog and had to leave you a comment. My oldest is one of those very gifted and very ADHD kids. He spoke early, he read early, and he was highly inquisitive. But he couldn't focus at school. We finally figured out what was going on with him in 3rd grade. For us, taking him to the pediatrician was our first step, and then we took him to Dr. Sam Goldstein (Salt Lake City). He is known all over the world for his work with ADHD children. The thing I loved most about Dr. Goldstein was what he said before we brought our son in to meet him: "Please tell your son that I am not a 'wrong' doctor. I'm not going to tell him what is wrong with him--he already knows that because that is what he hears from others. I am a 'right' doctor. I want to help him discover what is right about him. We will find his strengths and focus on how he can use those strengths to compensate for the areas he struggles with." He was truly amazing. My son is in 8th grade now and doing very well.

    Whatever path you take, you and your husband are the ones who will ultimately decide what is best for your darling son. I wish you the very best.

  36. Mindy,

    Good luck. Your love for your son will guide you in the right direction. Stay close to the Lord for direction as well as peace.

    I have two sons (one of whom is in third grade). He loves to be the class clown. It's so much fun to watch and yet so frustrating at the same time.

    hugs, Amber

  37. Hi Minday-

    First, I love your blog and your music.

    I'm throwing a guess out their, but I think Jackson may have ADD. I am recently diagnosed myself (at 37), and your examples of Jackson remind me a lot of when I was small.

    One of the best things I have learned is that ADD (or ADHD) is NOT a learning disability and I hate it when practioners and teachers 'label' it. It is simply that people with it see thnk differently then the average person. It's simply a 'different way of thinking'. AND, their are many talented and highly creative (and intelligent!), people who have ADD.

    A possibly helpful site:

    Good luck to you and Jackson!

  38. When I struggled with similar frustrations with a child of mine, I came across this book, "A Mind at a Time" by Mel Levine, M.D. I really enjoyed it. It breaks down the notion of intelligence into separate parts. And just because a mind may be really good at one thing doesn't mean it is good at another. We use this term smart as if you either "are" or you "aren't". When in reality there isn't one brain out there that is smart at everything! I loved his attitude of finding what someone is good at and then using those characteristics to help them with the areas that they struggle with. I hate that kids get labelled in school and then feel as if this label defines them. Each mind is unique! You are a great Mom to value your child's uniqueness and not want to see it squashed! My daughter is in college now and doing really well after getting a note from her teacher almost every week in 2nd grade. And I could go on. Minds develope over a long time, do they ever stop? And while learning as much as you can about your child's unique mind, whether that be through testing or whatever, can certainly help you to help him, it doesn't need to be seen as an all-encompassing final diagnosis! What I mean is that we shouldn't fear true information, we can fear using it in the wrong way but understanding a difficulty is a better way of coping rather than ignoring one. Best wishes in dealing with your beautiful child and in doing what is best for him and you! That is a constant challenge for me in my mothering!

  39. Someone directed me to this post so that I could share with you what we've found helpful for our daughter who sounds similar to your son.
    My daughter is intelligent, artistic and creative, yet she has great difficulty focusing on and completing tasks, especially sequencing. Needless to say, she has really struggled with school. I spoke to my pediatrician and she said we could do the add workup but she would recommend something more comprehensive and individualized for my daughter. She sent us to a Pediatric Neuropsychologist in Park City. The Neuropsychologist spent a whole day with my daughter doing activities and running tests. We have a feedback session scheduled for the 22nd, so I'm not sure what the outcome is exactly, but we were informed that we will have a pretty comprehensive road map for our daughters education, including how she learns and how to make her education less arduous. I found myself gaining quite a bit of confidence after speaking with the neuropsych after our initial visit.

    I'm not going to lie, it is expensive ($1500), and our insurance didn't pay for it, as many don't. But some do. All I know is it will be well worth it if we are able to understand how to help our daughter enjoy and succeed at her education.

    The Dr.s name is Dr. Gayle, (435) 645-9240.

    I hope you find this helpful.

  40. Okay, I have started a post 2 different times and it keeps getting wiped out! Ahhh computers - you have to love them. Okay, so now this is getting more and more abriviated and if I didn't feel so compelled to give you another idea for your son's focusing problem, I'd just go to bed all ready!

    So, I recommend having his eyes checked by Dr. Robin Price in Pleasant Grove. He specializes in children and "vision therapy". There are may children/adults who have 20/20 vision but have other issues. My son (5th grade) has "convergence insufficiency". He needs reading glasses and therapy to retrain his brain to see and process what his sight is taking in. As I've learned more over the past few weeks, it's amazing how many kids have this problem but don't know it because a routine vision screening doesn't check for this! It attributes to poor spelling, headaches, not wanting to read, not focusing, and is often misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD, and the list goes on. There are many websites out there but here's one I'd love to share more with you if you're interested. Good luck!