If you read my story Why We Homeschool…And Why We Don’t. Chances are you were reading about Grasshopper’s behaviors in public school and trying to self diagnose him. Believe me, we were trying to figure out how his brain was working too. We knew he was learning, but we weren’t sure how his brain was processing information. We recently received the answers we were looking for.
Before I dive into our experiences and describe Grasshopper’s behavior issues while at public school I want to give you a glimpse in our home life. As a christian family and we strive to instill Biblical values into our children. We are careful not to allow bad language in our house, and closely monitor what they are being exposed to through media. So the behaviors you are about to read about are not behaviors he learned through observation.
Ok, time to dive into more detail about our kindergarten experiences in public school. As soon as Grasshopper stepped into that building, it was like he was a completely different kid. He was disruptive in class. Focusing on his work was difficult for him. He wouldn’t sit still. The very first day of school he learned what he needed to say for them to call me to come pick him up. It wasn’t uncommon for him to take off running out of the classroom and down the halls. He even made it out of the building once! In an effort to discourage these behaviors of running out of the school, the teacher actually threatened to call the cops because he wasn’t being safe! Ugh, don’t even get me started on that one!
In his frustrations he would say so many negative things about himself. He would say things like I’m stupid, I’m an idiot and much worse. Right away the school system got him going with the school counselor and wanted him to participate in social groups. After a couple of extreme meltdowns they even suggested he might be suffering from a psychological disorder (like bipolar). In our desperation we agreed to take him to a mental health facility for a consultation/evaluation. To our relief, they determined that he is not dealing with anything this severe.
We were still without answers so we decided to have him tested for ADHD. The results came back negative. However, there were things the doctor found interesting but decided nothing further needed to be done at this point. He suggested a book to help Grasshopper work through his anger and sent us on our way. The book helped, a little and only temporarily. We still hadn’t discovered the root of the problems.
All throughout kindergarten I had struggled with pulling him from school. I wish we would have pulled him right away. By the time there was only a couple months left of the school year we had decided he would not be going back. His reading skills gained while in kindergarten were not much more than being able to read sight words. At home he was constantly moving, and no activities seemed to keep his focus for long periods of time (with the exception of legos). We determined that the traditional classroom setting was just not a good fit for Grasshopper.
Towards the end of the school year his teacher asked me if we had his IQ tested. Maybe he was just too smart and was getting bored in class (a question I asked her in November but she dismissed). He is very smart and catches on fast after all, maybe he just wasn’t being challenged.
I looked into having him tested to see if he was gifted. The doctor I was talking with said the only reason to really know is so they can be put into gifted programs at school. Since we decided he wasn’t going back to public school, we thought it would be a waste of money to test.
However, we were still experiencing behavior problems. Grasshopper was still getting frustrated and having bursts of very emotional meltdowns. At this point, I started researching characteristics of gifted children. Turns out, there’s more that is affected than just their learning ability. They are very emotional and impulsive because of how quickly their brains process information. It’s not uncommon for a child who is gifted to intellectually be a few years ahead, but emotionally being a few years behind. I was pretty upset that a doctor who preforms IQ testing in children wouldn’t mention this to me as a reason to find out if your child is gifted.
I finally reached the point where we needed to know what was going on, even though we homeschool. We needed to know if his behaviors were a result of a learning disability, or if he was just being naughty all the time. Was something else going on with his brain functions, or was this just a parenting issue? We decided it was time to have him evaluated for learning disabilities.
We suspected he might be gifted, but I also saw signs of dyslexia. I also wasn’t completely sold on the fact that he doesn’t have ADHD or ADD. Through doing research, I learned that many gifted kids also have another learning disability. Often times these learning disabilities are just hidden by the giftedness. These kids are called twice exceptional or 2e. Since I suspected a few different things, I sought out a doctor who specialized in 2e kids.
We were able to do one big test that would evaluate for pretty much everything, and boy am I glad we did! The last thing I wanted to do was find out the answer for one thing and still wonder about the other. The results: he’s not gifted (but he does have a high average IQ). He was however diagnosed with both ADHD and dyslexia. Like I said, glad we tested for everything at once to receive some answers!
I cannot stress enough the relief I felt to receive these answers. These answers validated my parenting skills. I can now be certain the behaviors are not a result of how we are raising him. His behaviors are simply a combination of his ADHD and dyslexia. The way he learns is different, and I now know what to adapt for it. His meltdowns are coming from the frustrations of having difficulty focusing and concentrating (from ADHD), combined with the difficulty of reading and spelling (dyslexia).
Honestly, I would have broken down in tears if the tests came back and we were told there was nothing out of the ordinary. We are so thankful for the answers we now have, and I’m excited to see him blossom as we adapt accordingly.
I am in the middle of doing a lot of research and ready to try a few new things in my attempt to teach him how he will learn best. I am excited to share some tips and strategies with you as I discover what works!
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