Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kath teaches me. Again. I wish there was a section for this on her neuro psych eval!!

I write this knowing I probably won't publish this until I know the outcome of her testing tomorrow.

Tomorrow I go to the neuro pysch and hear what his evaluation is of how Kath learns. I know from past experiences and from how she did on the test while I sat there, that she won't score well. But I also know that she knows MUCH more than she ever shows at these tests.

She is asked to do many tasks she does every single day...repeat back words, phrases, sentences. When she and Alex play together, Alex will feed her lines. Kath will recite entire sentences. But when asked to repeat in a testing situation "Sleep well" she turns her head to the side and ducks under my arm as if her brain can't handle it.

When she is asked to look at pictures and decide relationships and connections, she again turns away and acts as though she doesn't know what a relationship is.

When asked what objects in a picture are, she crosses her arms, looks away and hides her eyes.

All of this appears to be signs of a girl with very short term memory who cannot recall words, doesn't understand relationships, and so on. Yet this very same girl recites lines from her sister; looks at art work in the gallery and tells me the 'story behind the picture' from clues some adults don't notice; when we visit people's houses she remembers what we ate or some other obscure thing from months ago; or a day or so later she'll ask me a question of understanding the motivation of a character in a movie she saw ('why did that mommy try to sink her daughter?'...from the movie "10th Kingdom." It's not as bad as this sounds.). I love that although she has no idea the word 'drown' exists, she found a word and made it work for understanding. Pretty cool, huh?

Kath learns differently. I used to say the world just needs to slow down so Kath can catch up, but sometimes I think we should all slow down because Kath notices things the rest of us are missing.

This girl with a vision issue, a possible field cut, will see a dandelion, or a wild blue flower (no idea what it is called) and just need to go capture it, show me, pick it. She will stop us in our tracks during a walk through a parking lot to pick up a rock we bypassed and show us its amazing inner beauty.

The girl with CP and a lack of fine motor control will grip the pencil in a most awkward position (believe me I try to make her more comfortable with the 'correct' grip, but now I wonder if I should just shut up and leave her alone) and she will draw pictures that when anyone looks at them, look like an absolute mess of scribbles. But if you request a walk through that picture you see so much thought, originality and feeling. AND if you pick up that picture a week later and ask her to explain it again...she will say the same thing. Because it IS what she said it is. She's not just scribbling.

This girl with CP also loves to dance. When she dances her whole body lights up and smiles. She giggles that joyful laugh of someone absolutely filled with love and joy of what she's doing. She is in love with what her body can do. And her body doesn't even listen to her brain half the time.

This girl has speech issues, but if you could hear the songs she makes up! They vary from beautiful ballads to the worst bathroom humor thrown into a melody. Oy.

My girl's eyes light with impish delight and bold creativity and thirsty intellect. But whenever she takes these tests, or must 'perform' on demand, in a school setting especially, she folds her arms, pulls her heart and soul into her turtle shell and refuses to dance.

This is why I say the world should not judge others who learn differently and tag them as "disabled" or "slow." The world may look at my daughter's skills and think they know her abilities and her limits, they may think her scores say or justify them saying, "Oh, she is special ed and needs to learn more slowly. She needs...."

Yes, my daughter learns differently. Somethings fast. Somethings slow. Just like most children do. But she has shown me that learning is definitely not linear. Kath learns by doing, redoing. Discussing, reading, thinking, acting it out. Sometimes repeating all over again. (I learn best that way too, hmmm, I wonder how many of us do.)

She works harder than many of us ever have to. She knows the world spins the same for the rest of us, but for her a bit faster because she so often falls down (and we don't), so she has to fight that gravity pull every day. She knows the world deals with letters and numbers so she's pushing to get that darn E and F and M and N and V, and W figured out.

But Kath walked into IHOP today and handed the waitress who greeted us with a huge smiley welcome, one of her special shells from her beach trip last week. She did this just because that lady was nice to us. She draws pictures (remember they look like scribbles to most others) and gives them to people she meets who seem nice. (I think she has a stack in the back of the van somewhere and she pulls them out when needed.) She will give people change (she has stolen from me) and she hands it to the next nice person. She will pick a flower, love it (sometimes cut it from my garden...ugh), then hand the dried up wilted thing to the next person she sees and likes.

I have no idea whether or not people really understand the gift she is bestowing. Most of them are so nice and thrilled looking, they must have an inkling.

But this behavior, this type of 'knowledge' of how to be kind, how to treat others, is never tested on these evaluations and these acts show me more about what type of person Kath is, what her cognitive abilities are, than the hours and hours of testing she has gone through to evaluate her cognitive abilities.

So, thank you for reading this post because by writing this out tonight I went from thinking I needed another bowl of stress ice cream as I worried about her results tomorrow to being okay with the Kath who IS NOW and who IS GROWING and learning everyday. (And I will leave my starting sentence as a testimony to how differently I thought this writing entry was going to be.)

Wow, writing again saved my sanity. Although maybe I deserve that bowl of ice cream anyway....

1 comment:

SeƱorita Clegg said...


I know after spending just an afternoon with you and your girls and by reading the things you say she says that she is the most special girl and no way would I want her labeled "disabled" or "slow" because she's simply Kath: such a sweetheart and I wish I could notice things as she does for a second- because it seems so much more special and wondrous than the way I experience a flower.