This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cognitive Issues

It's been really brought home to me the last few days how much Kitty struggles academically.  Ponito got Hubby's hand-me-down phone, so he gave Kitty his old iPod.  Kitty is LOVING it and we're going to have to set quite a few new rules to balance her new obsession.  She's also been a lot more manic lately, and I'm assuming they're related.

Kitty says she's just happier because she's able to communicate with her friends and bio family, but admits she's got low level anxiety too.  I'm worried about the communication with bio family.  Her grandmother can be a negative person and she is giving Kitty too much info about biomom again.  This stresses Kitty out a LOT.  What worries me the most is that even with the relatively low stress of the Summer, she is still struggling.

It is interesting to watch her use the thera-tappers in therapy.  She goes from bouncing off the walls and from topic to topic to relatively calm the second the tappers start (last week she literally sagged and practically fell asleep).  Today she bounced back much more quickly as soon as the tappers were turned off, but was still hypo-manic.  Something else to mention to the psychiatrist in a few weeks.

One big thing I've noticed since she started texting is how bad her spelling issues really are.  She's 17 and a junior in high school.  The school has assured me she's mostly on grade level (although this year she failed the Language Arts portion of the TAKS - state standardized testing).

A few words she's asked me to spell (and spelled really wrong when I asked her to try herself first):


She asks me to spell a LOT of words.  I guess it's not all bad that she's texting; it's more practice spelling than she'd normally get, although it doesn't really seem to stick.

Couple other things she's asked me recently that have me worried:

K:  How long is this movie?
Me:  How many minutes does it say?

K: 116 minutes

Me: How many minutes are in an hour?

K: 60

Me: So how many hours is it?

K: Wait, let me get my calculator.

With a little bit of help she was able to get the right answer (1 hour and 56 minutes), but wasn't able to figure out that this was almost 2 hours.

She found out the local grocery store was without power from 6pm to 12:30am.  She wanted to know how many hours that was.  Even using her calculator and helping her work out that 30 minutes was 1/2 of an hour and therefore was .5... I still had to tell her to subtract 6 from 12.5 (she was going to add it)... and she still used the calculator.

She can't read a clock unless it's digital, but I have to admit, Bob says she can't either (but I'm pretty sure Bob is just being lazy).

She leaves out most of the descriptive words when she asks a question, and gets upset when we ask for more information.

"I want to see the movie with that guy."
"When are we going to that place?"
These questions and comments are rarely in context.  They pop out randomly.  She doesn't even see that there is no way I could understand what she's talking about.  Every now and then I am able to make the intuitive leap and get what she's talking about, but I still have to ask her to fill in the blanks so just maybe she'll "get it."

The good news is she's starting to recognize and reword with only one or two prompts when she is making "command statements."

"We're not going back there, ever."
"You're taking me to ____________."
"I need ___________.  You're getting it for me."  (with prompts she changes it to "I want ___________."   Someday we hope to get it changed to, "Someday I would like to have ___________.")


Sunday Koffron Taylor said...

Mary, I can’t spell ANYTHING without spell-check…really close to nothing! My Grand pa couldn’t spell, dad is dyslexic, I am dyslexic, and I am pretty sure my 6 year-old is dyslexic. I think spelling is more of a talent than a skill, for some people it comes naturally, some can work to improve it and for some like me we need to come up with ways to work around our deficits. My dad is a patented inventor, I have managed to work in health care most of my adult life, and I am sure my daughter will find a way to accomplish to the extent her other abilities allow.
I type almost everything I write (including this comment) into word and copy & paste it where it needs to go. I carry my phone with a medical dictionary at work, and yes, I ask people how to spell tings, even simple things A LOT.
My point is that in this day and age there are many ways to not let ones lack of the spelling gene hold you back.

Lisa said...

My almost 14 yo does this too with questions. I have learned to just ask questions like, "Who, What, Where, When, How" to decipher his comments/questions. He has no clue why I don't get what he's trying to say when he states things like, "When we went to that one place on that one street in the snow". I used to think that maybe he was thinking a thought and only some of the words came out of his mouth in spite of the fact that he said the complete sentence in his head. Other times I ask him if that's something he is trying to tell himself, and if so, he should only say it in his head instead of blurting it out to us.

He is a very good reader, but a horrible speller too. I thought reading and spelling went together - but not in his case. He is a horrible sentence writer as well but loves science and social studies. Our kids and their ability levels are such a mystery.

RADMomINohio said...

I have the EXACT SAME issues with Penelope. It's very frustrating. I know she is a smart young lady but there are these cognitive road blocks. I've pushed Penelope to text more and it has her spelling more. But then her phone broke and the cheapest thing we could replace it, I have since learned, has a talk to text feature. So now it scribes for her "like her teachers..." I say, frustrated. She thinks that's funny. Part of her IEP is to have a scribe during tests and large projects. It does get the work done but I feel like the consequence is she is a horrible speller. She can't read a clock either. Can't compute the time when I say "Quarter 'til" or something like that. Only reads digital. And she is a bad communicator. She leaves out descriptives too. Sometimes I wonder if it's on purpose because she is really good at leaving out important points when trying to describe an event so it soundsvdramatic. Her articulation sometimes is good but usually not, also. When we are on the phone with eachother, I sometimes tell her I can't understand her and we will talk later.
With that said, what can we do? I feel like it's a brain issue.

marythemom said...

Sunday - my mom and I are both dyslexic and my mom is missing the "spelling gene." She actually became a teacher!

What worries me most about both Kitty and Bear is that when they are spelling it is as though they don't hear the word right - even though they're hearing is perfect. Bear's spelling of Grandma as "Granmal" for example. Leaving out the d is no big deal, but adding the "L" to the end makes me wonder if they're not hearing the word right.

They grew up in the Midwest and Hubby and I speak with the same lack of accent - so I don't think it's that.

Lisa - my mom is an EXCELLENT reader and yet she can't spell at all. Bear's verbal abilities are pretty good and he has no documented learning disabilities, but his overall IQ is low and he reads and writes on a 5th or 6th grade level at best. I agree; "kids and their ability levels are such a mystery."

RADMomINohio - Just FYI, I changed the comments to moderated so your comment was left about 4-5 times and wasn't published until I approved it. Not sure why it told you that you'd read the security word incorrectly.

Lulu McCabe said...

Oh man, "iPod = manic": I am so with you! Been there, over and over and over! The lure of constant contact and the built-in tragedy of some of that bio family contact can be so toxic. I've often wished to stop the whole internet just for awhile, just to get him stable!

marythemom said...

Exactly Lulu! We've had sooo many issues with the internet that I wish I could just turn it off, but it's amazing how pervasive it is. They get it at school, on their friends' phones and computer, and even at Grandma's house. I hate it and I hate that there just can't be any controls on it like there used to be.

Johanna said...

My kiddo has some of the same cognitive issues - can't tell time, is ALWAYS asking questions that I have no clue about - I'm always saying "what are you talking about?" to get him to think about what he is asking - but he gets mad that people don't know what he is talking about. Wonder if these skills are connected in the brain to early attachment (or non-attachment)?

marythemom said...

Johanna - her cognitive issues are most definitely related to early childhood trauma. If you haven't already, check out some of Katharine Leslie's stuff (see the side bar on my blog) for some of the connections.