Thursday, April 09, 2009

4 Years

Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of my blog. A LOT has happened in those 4 years!

The picture above is how Z looked 4 years ago. I started this blog 3 months after we started homeschooling. Z was halfway through 7th grade and failing all of his classes. Z's TS, along with co-morbid ADD, OCD, Executive Dysfunction, and dysgraphia, made it impossible for him to successfully learn in a classic high-school setting. At the time we didn't know how we were going to conquer his learning disabilities. All we knew was that we couldn't stand back and watch a kid with a 131+ IQ fall through the cracks of our public education system.

When we pulled Z out of school his self-esteem was shot. Frustration with his ADD and OCD caused him to overreact to his failures. Meltdowns and rages were common. Anxiety attacks and a nervous stomach, bordering on gastritis, further hindered his attention span. There were many times that Z's ever-changing tics prevented him from reading or holding a pencil. At this time learning was excruciatingly slow! Z required constant one-on-one supervision to keep him on task.

I had been constantly researching Z's conditions ever since he was diagnosed with TS in the 3rd grade. Homeschooling required even MORE research, both for learning materials and for methods to overcome his handicaps. We tried hundreds of learning methods. A few methods worked, most didn't.

2 yrs ago, I ordered a book on speed reading and a book on memory enhancement techniques. With all the reading that special-ed homeschooling required, I felt I needed a few time saving techniques. I never got the chance to read those 2 books....but Z did. While I was at work, Z read those books and discovered the breakthrough I'd been searching for.

Speed reading enabled Z to hyper-focus on his reading, which miraculously bypassed his ADD. Up to this point, the only books that Z had ever finished were the first 4 Harry Potter books. After completing his self-taught speed reading course, there was no stopping him. Z BECAME A VORACIOUS READER! The following 2 yrs found Z teaching himself history, science, and english. There was no stopping his quest for knowledge!

The next 2 yrs we will be concentrating on math and filling in a few gaps in his other subjects. We're all confident that Z will breeze through his GED when we finish those subjects.

This winter Z has been researching career choices. Z understands his strengths and weaknesses and is trying to find a good match for his future. Z knows that there are certain careers that he just wouldn't be good at. He also knows that it's hard to find a stable career in our current economy. Z's not alone in his search. It's extremely difficult for our youth to find a way to support themselves right now.
This is how Z looks today....a cocky, know-it-all, mouthy, thoughtful, loving teenager. Z will always have to deal with his disabilities, but I have no doubt that he'll continue to teach himself the best way to handle his life.

21 Comments:

At 4/09/2009 6:34 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Woo-hoo!

I'm so proud of all of you! Congratulations on the blogiversary, and I'm so proud you were one of my very first blog friends!

 
At 4/09/2009 7:28 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

Congratulations@

You did a super job!!

 
At 4/09/2009 8:05 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks WC! The feeling is mutual!

Hammer, thanks! We're not done by a long shot, but things are looking up.

 
At 4/09/2009 8:41 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

Happy blogoversary! Wow, Z sure has grown. You've all done a wonderful job with his schooling.

 
At 4/09/2009 9:27 PM, Blogger Jeannie said...

Amazing story! I had no idea. I'm sure Z will do great wherever he ends up.

 
At 4/09/2009 10:31 PM, Blogger mister anchovy said...

Happy blog-o-versary. I really enjoyed reading this post, especially about your son finding a breakthrough which opened up the world of books for him.

 
At 4/10/2009 9:11 AM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

Yeah for Z and yeah for you too! I can't imagine the struggle and the frustration. It's so cool that he discovered speed reading would bypass his disability. Have you shared this discovery with other families? I think that's fantastic! Keep up the great work!

 
At 4/10/2009 10:43 AM, Blogger Courtney said...

Damn, has it been four years? Really? You and Squirl are the first blog friends I made when we all started blogging around the same time. Four years... :D

The most valuable lesson I ever learned was how to teach myself. It sounds like Z has that down pat and he'll be much better off in the long run than his traditionally schooled peers.

 
At 4/10/2009 4:14 PM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

We are all very proud of this young man in my house hold. The girls talk about him every so often. Esp when we were at your house last.. They see that photo of him and them and that is all it takes to start up a conversation about him. I never knew he had any problems until when I started blogging really but you know what when i was at your house this last time and I told him he is growing with the best set of parents I know.. You are there for your children and i am proud to know you all.

Congrats Z and keep up the good work.. Now any suggestions on writing skills for Kora..Anyone???

 
At 4/10/2009 5:25 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Squirl, a year ago, he grew 6 inches in one winter. No wonder he can eat so much and still be skinny. ;)

Jeannie, our goal has always been to give Z a future. Hopefully we're succeeding.

Mr A, you should have seen him the first time we went to a bookstore after his breakthrough. We didn't think he'd ever embrace reading the way the rest of our family does. It was a miracle!

VV, I've been contacted, via my blog's email, by many TS, ADD, and OCD parents. I always tell them how speed-reading opened up Z's world. I don't know if it worked with their kids, or if each kid has their own personal "trigger" to overcome their attention deficits.

Courtney, it doesn't seem possible does it? I met Squirl, Laura, and you at Great White Bear's blog during the infamous "Logic Monkey" incident.

L and I weren't sure that we could homeschool Z until we realized that anything worthwhile that we had learned, we'd taught ourselves.

Tweets, thanks, that means a lot to us!

The more Kora reads, the better her writing skills will be. Take her to the library and let her choose books that interest HER. After she has read a book, have her tell you and Jeff about the book. She can also tell the story to Bri.
After she has done this for awhile, explain to her that writing is just a matter of putting the ideas she has been telling you onto paper.

Z's writing skills have improved astronomically since he discovered his love of reading.

 
At 4/10/2009 10:36 PM, Blogger Grizzly Mama said...

What a success story! I think it very unlikely that Z would have gotten what he needed in a traditional school setting - what a blessing that you had the balls and the will to make that choice. I am so glad that he is enjoying reading - it is something that has made a difference in my life. My older girl is a voracious reader, but the little one struggles. I am wondering what will be the trigger for her? I know it's out there, we just haven't discovered it yet. (I have started reading to them before bedtime again.)

Bless all of you! Thanks for sharing your success story. Z has grown into a fine, handsome young man.

 
At 4/12/2009 1:26 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Nice jacket. :)

The thing is, even without Tourette's or ADD, if your kid's IQ is 131+, forget public education. I was "gifted" and so bored out of my mind I almost dropped out of HS. Twice.

I couldn't stand it, and pissed off my teachers constantly turning back their assignments with their English corrected. Heh, a lot of them hated me, but on the flip side, there were always those rare teachers who made it worthwhile. My favorite teacher in HS got fired for not being politically correct. Long story.

Anyways, I wish I had more time to do research because I could probably write a book that smart kids are discriminated against in HS. HS is so lowest common denominator, and it's even worse today than it was when I was in HS.

Sure, they have AP classes nowadays but even a lot of those teachers fail to hold your attention for IQs 130+.

This is not an excuse, I really believe this.

Now OCD, yeah, that's a toughie because I've seen OCD kids beat themselves up emotionally. Junior does it, and I have to keep telling him it's ok to fail. We all fail. Heck, I'd be happy to take $1 for everything I failed at. You have to keep going.

Speed reading is the best thing in the world for smart kids. I got my speed up to 660 wpm right before going into college and went from being barely a C student in HS to a almost 3.5 student in college. A world of difference, and I'm glad Z's done it. Also, college is the opposite of HS. It's geared for smart people and rewards people with 130+ IQs instead of punishing them like HS does.

As for career choices, I strongly suggest Computer Science. Yes, jobs get outsourced all the time and there's no job security, but couple CS with knowing a little accounting and Z will be well-off.

It's like sprints. You make fat amounts of money, but for short times. You'll have to do accounting tricks to keep you ahead. You HAVE to know how to save and put money aside, and you can't take being laid off personally.

I'm more than willing to give him any advice I can. In CS, Z's types excel. One company I worked at had an employee who we weren't even allowed to talk to in person because his OCD was so extreme. We had to communicate with him via email. He was making 250k in 2000 money (which is probably closer to 300k today). Extremely smart kid, and found a good woman to take care of him. Last I heard, he's very happy.

CS is great for people like us, and Z will learn to become one with the computer. He already knows Linux. I administer 500k+ Unix computers for a living (no exaggeration). I know Z would not only love my job, but excel at it.

I'd be glad to talk to you more via email if you'd like.

 
At 4/12/2009 3:15 PM, Blogger Super Happy Jen said...

Wow. What a fabulous Mom you are. And what a handsome young man!

 
At 4/12/2009 5:55 PM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

ZS I have to say this and Tshsmom will agree with me and you here. Z would never have made it in the school system up there. She watched SME and I struggle all those years in the school system.

I hated school up there and wished I could have been else where and knowing my mom would never have home schooled me even if she had had the patience to do it.

Life in a small town like that is everyone knows everyones business and I hated it. But you know what I am glad Tshsmom took the bull by the horns and did what they are doing. Z is an amazing young Man. i am proud to know him and my girls are fascinated with him when we are there.

I even told him while we were there before leaving that all those ticks Tshs talks about I couldnt see any of them. He has great control of himself. I have said it before and say it again WE ARE PROUD OF YOU Z!!!!!! Keep up the good work.

 
At 4/12/2009 7:16 PM, Blogger SME said...

4 years already?! Holy cow.

Like Tweets said, we know what the school system is like there, and I think Z has probably benefitted hugely from not being in it. Hope he's still up for a bus ride out here in June! Richard promises to make lots of meaty stuff for him, so he won't have to suffer withdrawal.

BTW, has your email changed? I've been trying to send my professor rant, but it keeps getting bounced.

 
At 4/13/2009 7:24 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Grizz, Thanks! The school had already written him off, so there was no point in leaving him there. We were scared to death when we started homeschooling, but now we're thankful we took that route.

ZS, I totally agree with you about the schools neglecting the gifted kids. I had the same problem, only I chose to teach myself what the teachers couldn't teach me. This wound up being great practice for homeschooling, so I guess it was a blessing.

AP classes in our school system are a joke! They were teaching tougher material in regular classes when I was in HS.

Fortunately Z's OCD is mild. We've taught him ways to fight it. We're just hoping that he'll be able to manage it on his own someday.

Z read your comment and is walking around with a huge grin. His heart's desire is to work in CS. I'm leery about job security in CS and always use you for an example. Now that you've blown my argument out of the water, I guess he can seriously research a career in CS. ;)

Z has dabbled in programming, but where he really shines is set-ups, troubleshooting, repairs, and networking. He loves that you're willing to be his mentor. I'm sure he'll be contacting you sometime soon.

Thanks for being such a great friend to our family over the past 4 years!!

Jen, Thanks...and WELCOME!

Tweets, Z can control his tics for short periods of time, but they always explode later. I think he was afraid of scaring the girls, so he inhibited his tics while you were here.

SME, we discussed all that stuff last night, so I'll just say LOVE YOU!

 
At 4/15/2009 4:23 PM, Blogger Cherie said...

First, Happy Anniversary to one of my FAVORITE blogger friends! Four years. That's some accomplishment!

And Z, how little he was only four years ago. Growing like a weed, eh. A handsome weed! In his licorice-leather coat. ;)

You know my feelings on public school so I won't go there except to say - amen, sister! Seems Z has a truly fantastic mom who took his education seriously enough to tackle it herself - and the success speaks volumes.

Good job to both you and the kid!

Great things ahead for Z. I can feel it!

 
At 4/16/2009 7:18 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Cherie, I'm so glad we found each other in our blogging adventures! Who'da thunk that my soul-sister awaited me out west?

You and I take this mothering thing seriously, don't we?

 
At 4/18/2009 8:33 AM, Blogger Cherie said...

Yes. Yes we do.

 
At 5/18/2009 9:49 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

I just found your blog while looking for other mom's who chose to homeschool their TS/ADD/OCD kid, and was so happy to read how Z is doing. It's so uplifting to hear that a child with all of these issues overcame them in the homeschool environment and far exceeded what the school system would have been able to do. I'm struggling now trying to find the right curriculum for my 6th grade son who happens to have all of the above and some, he is really smart (but not tested for IQ) and if he decides he is interested in something can do anything, but getting him interested is the key. Having trouble fiinding a math program right now, do you mind if I ask what you used? Austin has to have everything perfect or it gets erased and so a long math problem takes forever, not that he doesn't know the answer, it's just getting it on paper. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. My e-mail is smoore99@aol.com. Thanks and congratulations on your's and Z's success. Sheila

 
At 5/18/2009 9:49 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

I just found your blog while looking for other mom's who chose to homeschool their TS/ADD/OCD kid, and was so happy to read how Z is doing. It's so uplifting to hear that a child with all of these issues overcame them in the homeschool environment and far exceeded what the school system would have been able to do. I'm struggling now trying to find the right curriculum for my 6th grade son who happens to have all of the above and some, he is really smart (but not tested for IQ) and if he decides he is interested in something can do anything, but getting him interested is the key. Having trouble fiinding a math program right now, do you mind if I ask what you used? Austin has to have everything perfect or it gets erased and so a long math problem takes forever, not that he doesn't know the answer, it's just getting it on paper. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. My e-mail is smoore99@aol.com. Thanks and congratulations on your's and Z's success. Sheila

 

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