Friday, November 18, 2005

Our Visit With the Psychologist

Wow, we've been busy this week. I haven't had time to post, although I visited a few of you.

Last Friday the three of us went to Z's appointment with the new psychologist. Her name is Kathi and she's about my age; OLD. Kathi is the opposite of Z's previous child psychologist. She's very bubbly, with a great sense of humor. Z hit it off with Kathi immediately. Z tends to measure people before he trusts them enough to open up to them. Kathi had him talking like they were old pals right away. OK, I guess we'll keep her.

Kathi said that we caught Z's obsession with his health at a good time. He is obsessesed, but he hasn't started any compulsive rituals related to his health. She doesn't think that the gastroenteroligist is a good idea. People with Z's problems CAN become addicted to going to the doctor. If things keep running smoothly, I'll cancel our appointment next week. I'm sure that there are kids with real gastric problems who could benefit by being bumped up to Z's appointment date.

Kathi printed us out some great material on ADD and OCD hoarders. This gave us some new insight into Z's problems. I'm happy to report that we've been doing exactly the right thing with Z's hoarding obsession.

As we were leaving, Kathi put her arm around Z's shoulders and asked him if he played chess. Z loves board and card games. We taught him to play chess a couple of years ago and bought him a Harry Potter chess set for Christmas. Kathi says that chess is helpful for kids with ADD. It helps to organize their mind when they have to think 2 or 3 moves ahead. Looks like we'll be playing more chess at our house. Kathi would also like to play a game of chess with Z during one of their future sessions. I've heard that you can learn a LOT about a person by the way they play chess or poker. At this point we're willing to try just about anything.

In the future, Kathi will be meeting alone with Z during the first part of their session. She will then discuss how L and I can reinforce his therapy at home with whoever brings him to the appointment(usually me). Sounds good to me.

The following is a printout that Kathi gave us. I've colored the parts that apply to Z.

1. Sensitve
2. Empathic with the feelings of others
3. Feels things deeply
4. Creative in nature
5. Inventive
6. Often sees things from a unique perspective
7. Great at finding things that are lost
8. Perceptually acute
9. Stand-up comic
10. Spontaneous
11. Fun
12. Energetic
13. Open and unsecretive (I thought this was just a "guy thing")
14. Eager for acceptance (yes) and willing to work for it (not usually)
15. Responsive to positive reinforcement (For some reason both of our kids hate praise)
16. Doesn't harbor resentment
17. Quick if they like what they are doing
18. Difficult to fool
19. Looks past surface appearance to the core of people, situations and issues (I thought WE instilled this in him; RATS!)
20. Down to earth
21. Good networker
22. Sees unique relationships between people and things
23. Cross disciplinary and interdisciplinary (WHAT? I gotta look this one up)
24. Less likely to get in a rut or go stale
25. Original, with a sense of humor (humour to SME)
26. Observant
27. Loyal
28. Intense when interested in something
29. More likely to do things because they want to than because they should, thus often wholehearted in efforts (If only he'd be wholehearted in the RIGHT efforts!)

The trick is to capitalize on Z's positive aspects, while working around the negative ones. This is something we've been trying to do all along, but it isn't as easy as it sounds.


At 11/18/2005 6:55 PM, Blogger SME said...

Positive aspects of ADD: Very cool! Do they have a sheet for depression?

At 11/18/2005 7:01 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

I'm sure we could come up with some if we put all our weird minds together. ;)

At 11/18/2005 7:21 PM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Funny how I read things just when I need to see them. That list was great - we are still in the process of seeing if my son has ADD (vs CAPD). That list about made me cry because I so often focus on what is wrong. What a great way to think about my son. Thank you!

At 11/18/2005 7:21 PM, Blogger DaDog said...

You cold always just send him to live with me for a summer.

Maybe another like him who "made it" would help. :)

At 11/18/2005 7:41 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

It had the same affect on me, Notta! I almost didn't include the list on my post. Now I'm glad I did. This list gives us hope for Z and K's futures!

Dadog, PLEASE enlighten us! Notta and I could use some encouragement. I live for success stories.

At 11/18/2005 9:26 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

That IS really cool. If he was a zillion years older I'd want to date him!!

OK erase that thought from your mind. I just came from 123's blog.

Now, back out of the gutter, sounds like two great kids to me. Very glad that you found a counsellor that 'fits'. It took me 9 tries and at least two episodes of feeling suicidal (wrong meds, wrong doctor) before I found one that 'clicked'.

At 11/18/2005 10:21 PM, Blogger Sagepaper said...

Wow! Sign me up! I hope there isn't too long a waiting list to get ADD. Can I configure my own ADD? Just scroll down and check off what I want? Actually, you just bumped me from denial to curiosity about co-morbids. I don't meet the criteria, but I surely have some strong traits -- not all of which are on the good list.

Number 27 is buried near, but not at the bottom of the list. It's like an afterthought, but not like a final say. It's in a weak position. Number 27 was built into my soul. I don't like to see it thrown in for extra fluff. That's serious stuff!

At 11/19/2005 9:14 AM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Sage - You'd be surprised (or maybe not) about how many adults are running around with ADD/ADHD.

TSHS - Also, something I found out recently which hadn't even occurred to me, are the similarities between a teen with ADD and a teen with depression. It can be the whole "chicken or the egg" story - which came first, the ADD or the depression. I don't know about for Z, but I question it for K.

At 11/19/2005 11:29 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Excellent! I'm so glad they hit it off and turned out to be a good fit afterall!

I had a similar experience to Bridg's. Mind you, that town sucks for finding decent help with these types of challenges. Anyhow, yes, it definitely pays to shop around, and when you hit gold, hang on to it!!

At 11/19/2005 12:38 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Z hit it off with Kathi immediately. Z tends to measure people before he trusts them enough to open up to them. Kathi had him talking like they were old pals right away. OK, I guess we'll keep her.

That's wonderful. I'm happy for you and Z.

People with Z's problems CAN become addicted to going to the doctor.

I've seen this first hand. It gets ugly if not treated right away. My grandfather was that way. Reminds me of the Bette Milder song "The Rose" where it says "those afraid of dying never learn to live."

Kathi says that chess is helpful for kids with ADD. It helps to organize their mind when they have to think 2 or 3 moves ahead.

I wonder if a lot of the top chess players have ADD.

Love those 29 good things about ADD. But is energetic really a good thing? ADD kids that I tutored always wore me out. ;)

At 11/19/2005 1:13 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Bridg, for a small town, we have a LOT of fantastic counselors! With SME, we found the right counselor right away, but it took several tries to get the meds right for her depression.
Z's former psychologist was very introspective and mellow. He helped Z a lot with anger management problems he was having due to the bullying at school. At this point in Z's life, I think Kathi is a better fit.

That's the problem, Sage. We tend to look at the BAD list all the time. Z has a very intense loyalty. At 8 yrs old he was ready to take on his 400 lb brother-in-law because he was making his sister's life miserable! It hurts him when his friends aren't as loyal to him, as he is to them. He can't understand that EVERYBODY isn't as loyal as he is.

Notta, these kids can't help but be depressed. At this age they want to fit in and be like everybody else. A LOT of ridicule occurs when they go to SPED or they aren't working at the same rate as their peers. Pretty soon they start doubting EVERYTHING they're doing! Self-doubt has been a big problem with Z. We just had a breakthrough with this problem just this week. Z gets more down on himself than the school ever did. They have to realize that they're smart; they just don't learn the same way the other kids do!

WC, you know from experience that trusting your counselor is imperative! We were thrilled when they hit it off so quickly.

ZS, that song says it all, doesn't it? That's why we're worried about this. Z is too young to be living his life in fear.
I think energetic can be good if it's channeled properly. Z just has ADD, not ADHD, which adds hyperactivity to the mix. The kids you were tutoring were probably ADHD, which is actually MORE common than ADD.

At 11/19/2005 2:42 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

So glad you've found a good counselor for Z. That list is great, too. Good luck!

At 11/19/2005 8:53 PM, Blogger DaDog said...

It was just a amtter of finding my fit. Life is like trying to find the right shoes. It is all a matter of trying on lots of different styles and not being afraid to walk in them well past when the salesperson gets bored.

I found my niche in the Arts/crafts world. I was lucky to find a field where my obesesions (Process and exactness) and my 'weaknesses' (impulsivity and short attention span) were positive traits.

It may be a little silly for someone Z's age, but my life changed when I read "Mr. Tall and Mr. Small" at the age of 15. It is a book for MUCH younger children but it was the message I needed to hear. :)

At 11/19/2005 11:37 PM, Blogger European said...

Congrats on finding a good new therapist!
Also: the positive list is wonderful. It helps you keep things in perspective! I have a student who is potentially ADD and he's driving me nuts because I'm not sure how to help him. Currently, we're using a behavior chart on his desk. Unfortunately, it's not working at all. I'll have to ask my friend google what else to do. This kid is so smart - and I need to get that out of him!

At 11/20/2005 7:15 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks for the advice Dadog, you're Daman! I love your shoe analogy. That's what we've been doing since we started homeschooling; trying to find the learning style that fits.
I forgot about that book series. They were very popular when our daughter was little, but weren't really around when Z was small. We may actually have that book squirreled away somewhere.

SME, do we have "Mr Tall and Mr Small"? Wasn't your favorite "Mr(or Miss) Bouncey"?

euro, break this child's assignments down into tiny pieces. ADD kids CAN'T grasp a whole assignment and get frustrated. That's when the behavior problems crop up. Reward him after he completes each piece of the assignment.
You'll find that organization isn't in this kid's vocabulary. Lists help, but when they're 6, they can't read yet.
Talk to the schools SPED dept. Ours was clueless, but yours may have some good suggestions for you.
Before you get a class of your own, research Brain Gym. A LOT of teachers are starting the day with a series of these simple exercises.
I'll be posting on what's been working for us at a later date. In the meantime, I'm available for advice on this topic. It's sooo important, at his enthusiastic age, not to turn this child off to school!

At 11/20/2005 7:23 AM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

Well, I feel much better after reading that! It is good to be reminded there are POSITIVE aspects to being ADD. Cause sometimes it's hard to see when you are living it!

ADD runs in my family like open wheel cars run in the Indy 500! There are times when it's consequences just overwhelm you.

So I certainly can empathize with Z, and you. Good luck with the new therapist, hopefully she and Z will develope a great relationship!

At 11/20/2005 8:07 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks Mark!!
That list alone gives us great hope for this counselor.

I shoulda known it was you commenting this early. Our families definitely have to go camping together. You and I could share coffee, campfire, and conversation while everybody else is sleeping in. ;)

At 11/20/2005 8:50 AM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

sounds like a plan!

At 11/20/2005 10:22 AM, Blogger Sagepaper said...

The part about breaking assignments into many small peices gave rise to a new thought for me. I wonder if absorbing information in smaller bites is why there is such creativity and cross-disiplinary and intra-disiplinary synthesis. Those terms mean you can take a way of thinking about something from one field of study and apply it to another. The intelligence of ADD is often found in the ability to recognize underlying forms which can be used with different contents. That sentence was an example. I took a principal from Taoist teachings in martial arts and applied it to understanding some of the learning and knowledge application in the mind of someone with ADD.

You can think of the flexibilty small bites offer as being like building sets such as legos. There are more things you can create from many small blocks than there are things you can create with larger set pieces. Learning in small bites also helps to ensure genuine understanding of the material. If someone learns algebra in larger blocks, like, "Do this to find a square root," they won't get it and keep it as well as someone who insists on smaller bites to show the exact logic and reasoning of each step in the solution. People might say the ADD took to long to learn the lesson, compared with classmates. They don't look down the road, however. At age 28, the "fast" learners are incapable of pulling algebra out of the hat and using it. The ADD who really learned it might not remember all the words that were tossed around, like their peers do, but they can solve a problem algebraically with ease.

Educators take too narrow a view of learning sometimes. Often, they don't even extend their ideas beyond high school and into college. By definition, none of them departs from formal education to explore life after study. They just don't understand the long-term ramifications of different learning styles. Sorry, this was long again.

At 11/20/2005 10:57 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

That was BRILLIANT Sage!!
Thanks for explaining the "disciplines"; haven't had time to look them up yet. I LOVE the lego analogy.
What you stated so well here is exactly how we're teaching Z. In history, we don't care if he can spew out dates. What he IS learning is why Earth's cultures evolved into what they are today.
In science, he may not have ALL the formal weather terms on the tip of his tongue, but he CAN look at a weather map and predict the upcoming weather quite accurately.

Now I know why he gets so excited when he applies something he's learned to everyday life!

At 11/21/2005 11:49 AM, Blogger Sagepaper said...

Howdy, I sent you an email detailing my misfortunes in pursuing a genuine education, as opposed to succeeding in the "Education Game." It might have sounded harsh. I just wanted to warn you in the strongest terms possible to keep Z from making my mistakes.

Fortunately, Z is plenty bright, and has great parents homeschooling him. He will be able to pursue a real education such as we have discussed here. He can also prepare for goofy tests that are used in determining your academic fate. I'm glad he won't have to choose one path or the other. He can do both. If you need them, I might be able to come up with some more palatable ways for him to process minutia as if he were a genuine garbage disposal unit. ;-)

At 11/21/2005 4:56 PM, Blogger Laura said...

I'd love to see what someone tried to assume about me using how I play chess - I SUCK at Chess, bigtime.

Great that you found a therapist that fits with Z's needs. That's the most important thing. If the person doesn't "click" - move on.

Hope all goes well!


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