Reluctant and Eager Writers
Reluctant and Eager Writers: both present a challenge!
It was an honor to raise two lovely boys who dwelled on the opposite spectrum of writing and life. I learnt much, and am now well educated in aspects I never even thought about before. Allow me to introduce you to the life of homeschooling ADHD boys who have never made use of any medication for this condition. They survived the journey well and are young adults today. Yatri is enrolled as an Aerospace Engineering Student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Kahlil is attending Florida Polytechnic University, keeping himself occupied with Big Data Analytics.
Yatri (the older one) was born with strabismus, a curious eye condition which caused double vision. Not knowing he sees the world ‘differently’ than anyone else did not manifest until we started reading. Looking back, the clue to this discomfort was so obvious, but how would one know if you have not been exposed to such a situation. He has 20/20 vision, which contributed to difficulty in pinpointing the problem, however, there were tell tale clues. Its best not to ignore or discount such manifestations for reasons that may suit your situation, or comfort level.
Energetic with gusto for life, Yatri had pronounced difficulties in some developmental areas. He could not catch a ball, or hit one. He lost interest in all activities, which required sharply focused vision, such as writing. He could not read or write. Selective avoidance was the name of his game. He could play video games comfortably on the TV, yet the computer screen presented a problem. He used all kinds of reasons for gravitating towards the first mentioned as his preference. Getting him to write anything was like pushing a wheelbarrow, filled with lead, uphill! It just did not happen. Over and above this difficulty, he struggled with some aspects of sensory integration. Jeans could not be tolerated, labels had to be removed from the inside of all clothing, wearing socks with seams was out of the question. These issues also manifested in what he ate. It had to be crunchy in texture, mushy foods was not an option. His entire environment had to be adjusted before real learning could take place. Occupational-, and physical therapy positioned him to have a positive outlook on his own coping skills.
Kahlil in the other hand a very different story. He was a phonetic writer at age four. Designed all kinds of machines, sketched them out complete with a bill of materials needed, all as a shopping list, ready for the next trip into town! His interest in chemistry was well developed and after burning a 3ft diameter hole in our beloved carpet, the local pharmacist and staff placed him on a ‘no transactions unless parents are present’ list. The pharmacist, a wise man, alerted us to his discussions with Kahlil, and the fact that he used the Internet for real research in making astonishing concoctions. Kahlil was inventive and the writer, the real deal! In 2008, at an IEW™ co-op writing class the girl sitting next to him announced her intention of becoming an author. To this Kahlil replied: “Interesting, I am one already!” He could out write, and out wit any girl. Writing is only desirable, when other wants to read it, so Kahlil was adroit at it, but needed much focus. Guided DVD instruction from Mr. Andrew Pudewa, and editing guidance by myself, Kahlil sharpened his pen to the delight of others. Kahlil enrolled in the Cambridge AICE program a year before going to University. In this class his teacher enquired who taught him to write, upon which he replied: “My Mom, and Mr. Pudewa, M’am.” The teacher was intrigued and advised him to continue his writing habits. At a parent evening, she conveyed this to me, and added that there was very little else she could teach him. His poetry output was the most striking in her opinion. At the time I did confess to my insistence of rigorous poetry memorization practices. This was yet again, thanks to Mr. Pudewa!
Coming back to Yatri, it took eye surgeries, ingenious interventions, and the loving, unfailing support from experienced experts, to enable him. Constantly providing evidence and calling on his new confidence in his own abilities. Although it was incremental and asynchronous, it proved to be winning strategy for him. After the eye surgeries, we worked on the dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and dyslexia. My husband and I were adamant that every person who mentored or provided services to Yatri, was not to refer to Yatri by any condition, and only by his name. We also discussed this on a very selective ‘need to know’ basis Looking back, this was wisdom, beyond what we understood at the time. During this period we lived in South Africa, and my husband travelled to the US on a regular basis. We were blessed to have acquired books, therapies and teaching aids at the end of all the travels. Yatri only started reading and writing at age 10. His diligence and tenacity afforded him to graduate from high school one year after peers. Having spent the past two years at Embry-Riddle, he had to make some adjustments to accommodate his prevailing ADHD.
Both boys are now lovely young adults who have spent much time instructing peers who was not as well equipped in writing and reasoning skills, to attain proficiency. They taught me how to approach writers from all walks of life; the strugglers; stradlers, and other super cool kids!