I picked up a book from the library recently called Smart But Scattered. This title is my child in a nutshell. Bright as can be, creative, interesting, insightful... but her mind jumps from idea to idea. I have seen her walk across the room with wooden blocks in her hand, think of something else, drop the blocks and not notice the clatter because her brain is focused elsewhere. It's mindboggling. Forget being able to follow two or three-part commands; we're still in the touch-and-make-eye-contact stage for simple requests.
But on some things Snuggler can focus for long periods of time; she can read four books in a day or spend an hour or more on an art project. Last night she used wooden blocks and little figurines to create LaGuardia High School for the Animals. She can write complex stories and is a natural team player, managing group work with ease. She's a curious mix of attention and inattention, highly inconsistent.
Or maybe not. I opened Smart But Scattered and did the assessment quiz for Snuggler (there are different versions for various age groups), which breaks out executive function issues into sub-groups: response inhibition, working memory, emotional control, sustained attention, and seven other categories. This is fantastic. For it turns out that executive function isn't an all-or-nothing issue. My child has strengths as well as weaknesses. Afterwards I did the same kind of quiz for myself, to see where my strengths match or complement my child's, and where our weaknesses overlap. It's a start.
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I was setting up a neurologist appointment recently for Snuggler (we need to explore the possibility of neurofibromatosis), and got to talking with my pediatrician's office person. Her son is Snuggler's age and has ADHD, or what sounded like ADHHHHHHHHHD. We don't have the hyperactivity at our house, just the inattention. Same brain region, different issues.
As this woman and I talked about how to get an IEP and she said, "I don't want him getting a label!" I smiled and said, as gently as possible, "But you just said everyone at school has already given him one: 'the annoying kid'! Better to have a label that gets him the accommodations he needs."
I've written about labels before. Sometimes they help.