Sometimes, the kid blows my mind

Stroop Test

We’ve been having (yet more) struggles at school. But he’s happy. He goes to school without complaint, and I’m just relieved that he seems happy.

But he’s slipping academically. Still “on standard” for reading and maths (where he used to be years ahead), but falling behind in writing.

At the end of last term we had a chat to his teacher to try to work on some problem areas – one that was mentioned was figurative language.

Now, he’s been reading since he was four and a half, and I assumed he had a pretty good grasp of figurative language, so this was a surprise to me. Nevertheless, I took every opportunity to discuss figurative language where we found it, and also asked him to do a few “busywork” worksheets at about the right level. I still felt he understood the material without extra instruction.

Fast forward to tonight. We’ve decided to only speak in general terms about the events over the weekend in Charlottesville, only that people are being awful, and that he doesn’t need to know the details. He’s a highly sensitive soul, and sometimes he has nightmares over world events, so we don’t tell him everything, all the time.

I introduced him to the concept of cognitive dissonance, and how some people will continue to believe a comfortable lie, rather than accept a new truth that compromises their world view.

I then asked him to do a stroop test. He did really well, but admitted it was hard.

Then I turned the card upside down, and asked him to repeat the test. I asked if he found it easier the second time, he said, “yes, because the abstraction removes the context, and only shows the content”.

So then I freaked out a little. And then I asked…

“Can you think how that test, and our findings apply to figurative language, and why authors use it?”.

“By abstracting the content, the author can express a message that people might not want to see otherwise”.

Boom.

Brain Squirrels

Click here for a fabulous picture of a Brain Squirrel!

I had my birthday last week. 47.

A few weeks before that, I had an experience that forced me to confront the fact that my attention issues really were a thing. There was a job vacancy that I thought I would be perfect for, and I wasn’t asked to apply. There may be other reasons too, but the brain squirrels weren’t helping.

That neurotypical people don’t develop post office phobias. That neurotypical people can live their lives without losing something every single day. They can break down a task (like writing an essay, or going to the post office) into logical steps, and then tick them off a mental list as they are achieved. They can complete higher education. They can maintain relationships with people they care about, and if those relationships end, they understand why. They can keep a stable, boring job. They can stay awake through a powerpoint presentation.

That neurotypical people don’t have squirrels in their brains. And the squirrels aren’t on party drugs.

The day after my birthday I forced myself to go to the GP and talk about my symptoms. My mouth opened, and it all came out at once. Before I had barely begun to explain, the GP swivelled on her chair and started to write the referral to a psychiatrist.

A week later almost to the hour, I was in the office of a psychiatrist who has a special interest in adult ADHD. I filled out the screening test paper, and was told that in the spectrum of ADHD symptoms, from mild to “holy shit, I can’t believe you survived to adulthood”, he said that I have been “suffering under a heavy burden of symptoms”.

Here is a pretty clear description of the inattentive subtype of ADHD. This is what I have, not the better known variety with hyperactivity.

Yesterday, I started medication. It’s going to take a while before we will get the correct dosage and medication, and find the right combination of long acting and short acting meds, but I am hopeful that within a few months, life will stop being so hard. And maybe I’ll be able to get to the post office to send you that baby vest I knit when your three year old was a newborn.

Unravelling Ravelry

For those of you who have found my blog via my “Unravelling Ravelry” class, or form my “Social Media for Crafters” lecture, here is a bonus glossary of Yarn speak that could help you navigate the online world of crafting. Enjoy!

BIL = Brother in Law
BTW = By the way
BFL = Blue-Faced Leicester
CAL = Crochet-A-Long (like a knitalong but crochet :D )
CIP = Crocheting in Public
DD = Dear/Darling Daughter
DH = Dear/Darling Husband
DIL = Daughter in Law
DP = Dear/Darling Partner
DS = Dear/Darling Son
DW = Dear/Darling Wife
EZ = Elizabeth Zimmerman
ETA = Edited to add
FIL = Father in Law
FO = Finished Object
Frog/Frogging = Ripping back your knitting/crochet (so called because you “rip it”)
Frog Pond = the final resting place of all abandoned projects
FWIW = For what it’s worth
HTH = Hope that helps
IIRC = If I Recall/Remember Correctly
IMHO = In my humble opinion
ISO = in search of
IYKWIM = If you know what I mean
IYSWIM = If you see what I mean
KAL = Knit-A-Long (lots of people joining together to make the same project)
KF = Kaffe Fassett
KIP = Knitting in Public
Lace Barf = What your lace looks like before blocking
Lifeline = threading a piece of string through the live stitches on your needle in case you have to frog back.
LMAO = Laughing my arse off
LMAOROF = Laughing my arse off, rolling on floor
LOL = Laugh out loud
LYS = Local Yarn Store (i.e. wool shop!)
LYSO = Local Yarn Shop Owner
MIL = Mother in Law
OH = Other Half
OOC = Out Of Curiosity
OP = Original Post(er)
OTH = On The Hook
OTN = On The Needles
PIW = Project(s) in Waiting
PM = Private Message
Pooling = When one colour in a variegated yarn bunches together in an area
ROFLOL = Rolling on the floor laughing out loud
ROTFLMAO = Rolling on the floor, laughing my arse off
SABLE = Stash accumulated beyond life expectancy
SEX = Stash Enrichment eXercise/eXpedition
SIL = Sister in Law
SnB =Stitch and Bitch
SO = Significant Other
TBH = to be honest
Tink/Tinking = unpicking your knitting stitch by stitch (from the word “knit” reversed, because you are knitting backwards)
TOAD = Trashed Object Abandoned in Disgust (see Frog Pond)
UFO = Unfinished Object
VLT = Victorian Lace Today (a splendid book of lace shawls and scarves)
WIP = Work in Progress
WPI = Wraps Per Inch (number of times yarn will wrap loosely around ruler or similar tool in one inch; more wraps indicates thinner yarn)
Yarn Barf = a big lump of yarn that accidentally gets pulled out of a new centre-pull ball, when you’re trying to find the end
YMMV = Your mileage may vary

Adapted from http://www.knittingforums.org.uk/random-knitting/topic123.html

Harry Potter Themed 9th Birthday Party

Harry Potter 9th Birthday Party

Guests were asked to arrive promptly for sorting into houses. They were then sent in for wand making (sticking washi tape and sparkles on to chopsticks), and then to Professor Moody for Defense Against the Dark Arts (Pin the Wand on a large poster of Harry).

Then they were sent outside to practice Wingardiam Leviosa (balacing a baloon on a wand tip), while waiting for Divination class.

Cheryl made a brilliant Professor Trelawney (albeit without the sherry fumes), and some kids loved her class so much they wanted to do it twice!

While Divination was in session for one house at a time, Brooke ran History of Magic (Harry Potter trivia), and Vish ran them ragged with outdoor games.

We then had snacks and cake and present opening, and finished up with a herbology class, putting Extract of Murtlap and Bubotuber Pus into small jars for potions lessons at home. Preferably in the bathtub!

A wonderful time was had by all the kids, and all of the adults were driven to gin. Thank you to my wonderful professors, and Angi who quietly helped where it was needed and helped everything to run smoothly. I have had some lovely thank you messages from parents, which make all the effort worthwhile (as well as having a happy kid!).

Happy Birthday Squidilng

Inigo 9th Birthday

Kid went to bed 8, woke up 9.

Went to bed with Ogden the Octopus, and his new favourite soft toy “Zombunny” tucked inside his pyjamas. Zombunny was an early Christmas present made by the wonderful Cheryl, and he is perfect. At nine, he is still the kid that is late for school to stay with a dying monarch butterfly, has meaningful relationships with soft toys, and one particular tree at school.

At nine, he is still generous with his kisses and cuddles, still loves extravagantly, and still holds my hand to cross the road. But he also plays chess like a fiend, can ride his bike all the way to school, and climbs all the way to the top of the indoor climbing wall without a trace of fear.

He is brave, he is sweet, he is kind and he is clever. He is every bit as wonderful as I ever hoped he might be, and he keeps getting more and more himself, which is an absolute joy to watch. The last few years have brought some tough challenges, and he has recently proved to be more than a match for them. With the support of his teachers, he has gone from strength to strength this year, and (touch wood!), we may have found the magic formula for engagement at school. See the previous few posts for more detail.

And today, we finally had the initial assessment with an Occupational Therapist. It will be a while before we get the report back, but it looks like we might be finally on the road to a diagnosis, and some support for his challenges.

After the OT, we had lunch at his favourite restaurant Ras Vatika (Dosa and dhai Puri with a mango lassi), then went into town to see the windows at Smith & Caugheys. We wandered inside and discovered the Magical Forest, so we decided to check that out (highly recommended if you’re in Auckland with a kid), and then to Aotea Square for the giant lego Christmas tree.

Daddy then met us at the cinema for “Fantastic Beasts”, sushi for dinner, and then a trip to Giappo for the world’s best ice cream.

Which apparently comes with a candle for your ninth birthday.

On the way home he told me that he wished he had a time turner so he could live today over and over again. “It’s like I drank a whole bottle of Felix Felicis last night, and I’ve had a whole day of perfection”. I hear you kid.

Breakthrough

At the end of last term, Squid had a really crappy day. It was no ones fault – the class went on a sketching walk, and he wandered off. The teacher yelled – to keep him safe, which I completely understand, and he crumbled.

When I picked him up that day, he felt so bad, he told me he had considered hurting himself.

I insisted on more meetings with the school. An emergency appointment to talk to the Educational Psychologist, and an action plan was drawn up. The school committed to addressing both his deficits and his giftedness, and especially to try to accelerate him through some assessments to try to find where he is at (particularly in maths).

Yesterday at Mind Plus, the class were looking at analogies of giftedness, and this is what he came up with. He’s been putting in extra effort at school, and that, combined with all the extra stuff his classroom teach has been doing, seems to be finally making a difference.

For the teachers

This is a shout out to my teacher peeps.

This week, my kid expressed his unhappiness at school in a way that could not be ignored, and it couldn’t be misinterpreted.

And the response from the school has been heartening. Teachers who have worked with my boy have been shocked, and distressed, and they have made the time to set things in motion for change.

There have been teachers in his past that have ignored, minimised and disregarded his challenges, and his feelings about school, and my advocacy for my boy. But the last two days I have seen three teachers go above and beyond to make sure that this situation gets turned around.

And one special teacher, who happens to be a friend to both Squid and I, who took time out of her busy life to make sure we are supported and informed, and nurtured – you can’t know what your advocacy has meant.

I am hopeful that things will change really soon. And if it does, it will be down to great teachers, working passionately within a system that constrains and stifles where it should lift up and celebrate these wonderful people.

Thank you for the work you do.

Harry Potter is Ready to Party

Wizard!
Inigo’s friend from Mind Plus, Liam, had a Harry Potter themed birthday party on the weekend. After years of trying to get the kin enthused about the books, we finally let him watch the first movie on Saturday night. We bought a wand, and a broom, some glasses, and some face paint to draw on a scar, and on Sunday morning he chose his own outfit. The robes were from his Star Wars party, but he was given authentic ones when he arrived!

Broomstick

Lara’s Magic Cast On

I really love Judy’s Magic Cast on for toe up socks. And now I am teaching toe up sock knitting, and about to release my first sock pattern, I have been knitting a lot of socks.

Judy’s cast on gives a great finish, but it’s just a bit too fiddly for me. I am a very lazy knitter, so if I can find a short cut, or a way to fudge something, I’ll do it. This is a very quick and basic video, and hope someone finds it useful.

Just remember that on the second needle (the one on the “top” in this video), you will need to knit the first round of stitches through the back loop to untwist them. The ones on bottom needle can be knit normally.