The way learning and living is complicated when we have trouble with organization

Archive for April, 2015

False Dichotomies!!

Imagine a family with two kids.  One of them struggles with Executive Dysfunction, and the other doesn’t.  One fits in easily at school and shines academically, the other one “has issues.” One of them is no trouble at all, and the other one…. It’s always something.  You get the idea! The family, the school, the neighborhood, all begin to think of one as “THE GOOD ONE” and the other as … well, not.  

What is going on here? These are good people who love their children. They are intelligent, educated and involved with both kids.  Part of what is wrong is that they never expected to have kids who had trouble in school.  

Often people are not especially conscious of what they expect before they become parents, but they do have a script in the back of their minds.  One couple told me in our first meeting that they thought the school years would be packing lunches, saying goodbye at the bus stop in the morning, family dinners and kids doing their homework in the evening, bathing, brushing teeth, and good night at bed time.  They really did expect this, but their two absolutely adorable hyperactive Aspergery boys who loved puzzles and the Zoombinis, did not fit seamlessly into the school day.  The parents wanted SOMETHING that “would work” and by this, what they really wanted was something to re-synch their reality with their not-so-conscious expectations.  What they needed to do was adjust their expectations to the reality of the children they had.  I’ll write more on this soon. 

Does this sound familiar? 

Family dynamics

I want to bring up a pattern that I see in families where one of 2 kids is identified as having executive function problems and one is not.  There is a tendency to see one as good and the other not so good, healthy and fragile, easy and a workout.  Once they are categorized that way, it becomes hard for the family to see the good, healthy, easy one as having needs or the not-so-good, fragile, work out one as having the ability to succeed unaided.

Folks tend to be unaware of doing this, they really see the older boy as badly behaved and given to poor choices, while the younger one has a teacher who doesn’t understand, and a coach who asks too much. Sometimes it’s the older kid who is identified as needing help while the younger one doesn’t essentially because the older one has hit a heavier workload in the upper grades, while the younger one hasn’t yet.

The thing is when you get in the habit of seeing one kid’s difficulties as faults needing correction (punishment)  and the other as having a need for support, you’ve got a bigger problem than you think.  You are teaching your children how to think about themselves and each other.  If I think of myself as the troubled one, how does that influence my choices about, say alcohol?  Worth thinking about…..