Friday, December 23, 2011

Letter to my Child

It was exactly 7 days ago that your dad and I sat at the psychologists office and got back the results of the assessment. The two words dyslexia and ADHD will forever be seared in to my mind and heart.

My first reaction was well, now e have a name and information to move forward. In fact, the psychologist was very clear that research shows that we can deal with these things successfully. He stressed your strenggths in art and and speech, and talked about your challenges in focusing on tasks, and your difficulties in putting sounds to letters.

My second reaction was anger. Wasn't it enough that you were born in to a family with two blind parents who don't drive, can't shuttle you around to this sport or the latest activity, who plan things on such a balancing scale that believe it or not, our schedules are planned to such an extent we know what you will be doing already for the next six months? Isn't enough already? That was the feeling sorry for myself part, a necessary part, but a bump in the road to more constructive thinking.

I have also marveled at how amazing you are to have come this far in your short seven years of life. I am so sorry we did not realize sooner how hard you have actually been trying and been frustrated. Your capacity to memorize whole words without the benefit of understanding phonetics means you have an incredible brain. Like when I asked you how you knew that the letters spelling cricket meant cricket and you said "mom thats easy, there are lots of cricket stores and phones around."

In the last week, I have become obsessed with trying to educate myself on what the terms dyslexia and ADHD mean. I've read "overcoming dyslexia," "you mean I'm not lazy, crazy or stupid," and "delivered from distraction, about ADHD." I've looked on youtube, bought the HBO documentary journey in to dyslexia and been to tons of websites. All these things have given me a greater understanding of what you have gone through and the challenging road ahead. My goal was never to change or fix you, but to figure out how I can best coach you to get the most out of what you have been given in the life department.

According to all those books, you will grow up with different struggles than your sisters, and you will have to work really hard to function and fit in to a society that is built on the belief that smart equals print literate, and that wondering minds means unintellectually talented. It may take you twice as long and twice as hard to read simple things that your sisters and friends can seem to do effortlessly, and people won't always get the fact that fidgety does not mean foolish.

I would not have chosen this path for you, nor can I protect you from what is all ahead, but I am so thrilled that there are other people in the world who see your neurological differences as gifts from which the good and strengths can be harnessed for your betterment. My job as your mom hasn't much changed, except that I am more mindful of you, and that we will probably spend a lot of time together enhancing your current skills and developing new ones. You will still get nagged, cajoled, and although we may need to make some minor modifications you still have to do all the things you are suppose to do with no excuses.

That was my epiphany today, I can read, watch movies, go to websites, and I'll probably continue to do all that, but what really matters is that whatever words they use to describe your brain in terms of diagnostics, we are still the same family we were last week. You are still the middle kid with the sense of humor, who likes to draw, and play computer games, and I'm still the mom who likes to bake and read. These things the doctors say should not define you but are only parameters that we will work around.

I hope as your mom, I can help you see the positive in what you have been given in life. That people with your same struggles grow up to be happy, confident adults. There is a whole list of people like Steve Jobs, the maker of my talking IPhone, the man who invented the Kinkos copy store, and lots of other people who have been termed as learning different. I don't actually care what career path you choose but that you give life your best and that you find something in it that makes you happy. I'm suppose to be helping you gain new experiences,and help you know that home is a safe and nurturing place.

So together, as we have walked through the last seven years, together we will continue with information, humor, and the grace that makes us the family we already are in our hearts and minds. Maybe some day I will read this to you, or you will read it yourself, but I hope I can show in the little and big ways how brave, smart, and gifted you are and how lucky I am to be your mom.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Visit to an Acupuncture Clinic

Before I get in to my visit at an acupuncturist, let me say I've had lots of blog trouble. Suffice it to say, my computer is on a diet and won't accept cookies which is a big problem if you are trying to blog on WordPress. So until I get myself straightened out, I am just posting here.

My brother invited me along to visit a new acupuncturist. I'd never been to one, so I was quite apprehensive. He thinks it would be a good thing to try on my 7-year old son to help him improve focus at school. I'm not so sure, but I figured I should be the guinea pig or guinea mom.

We kept arguing about who would have the treatment first, and maybe my brother thought I would head for the hills, or maybe my protest was not quite loud enough, but I can say I was the braver sibling because I did it first. First to do the 3-page paper work, first to sit in the recliner, first to get poked.

Jade Spirit Community clinic accepts walk-in patients and people can pay on a sliding scale, whatever is affordable between $20 and $40. We were second in line. Once the paper work was filled out which asks similar questions to the forms at massage places, we entered a room with 3 recliner chairs, a table with treatment things, and pictures on the walls of diplomas and chinese art work.

The elderly gentleman asked me a few questions about menstrual cycles and pregnancy. I wondered how important this type of information is for treatment, I guess it has to do with pressure points. He also asked the purpose for my visit and I said everybody has colds at home and I have a sore throat and don't want it to get any worse. My brother said I brought her here so she could experience eastern medicine and mentioned my son.

He began by feeling my pulse on my right hand starting at the bottom of my wrist then moving a few inches towards my elbow. I wondered if my heart was beating fast. He wrote something down, and then proceeded to do the same thing with my left wrist. He then asked me to stick out my tongue, literally, not the way you do with your tongue down on your bottom teeth for the general practitioner but sticking it out.

He asked me to remove my shoes, and he put the foot rest up on the recliner. The recliner was comfortable with a paper pillow covering under my head and a sofft woolly blanketunder me. I assume these items are changed for each patient.

He put alcohol on my left wrist above my thumb, my right side elbow, and on both my inner calves but on the front sides. Then he put the needles in one by one. I barely felt the ones in my legs andright arm, but for some reason my left wrist hurt a little. This discomfort went away after a few seconds. I felt very light weight and a little tingly.

My brother called this sensation energy and my body getting in balance. I'm not sure if it was me having a fever, reacting to the fact I had not eaten lunch, or maybe it was me getting a sense of balance.

I lay there for about a half an hour, and although there were no rules about staying still, I didn't move much. I listened to the whir of traffic outside the window, and tried to relax to the music playing over the speakers. Think elevator music with an eastern, new-age twist. I probably could have taken a nap.

Once the needles were removed, which I hardly felt, I waited for my brother to finish his treatment. I left feeling physically lightened, and $30 lighter as there was a $10 paper work fee I don't remember reading that on their website. Maybe its unfair, but I decided not to tip for that reason. I thought if this does something for me then when I go back for another treatment I'll up the gratuity.

My one regret is not asking more questions. It must have been the nerves. But now I wonder why he placed the needles in those certain places. What was the purpose of looking at my tongue? I could probably look all that up on the internet, and my brother says you can actually buy your own acupuncture needles on the internet if you want to try this at home. I'll pass on the home version. Thanks.

I'm not sore anywhere, and my throat does feel better, but I've got the cough going around. I'm not sure how I feel about the experience, but it sure impressed my kids.

Will I let my 7-year old try this? I don't think so. The practitioner recommended a colleague who works with children but they are located 30 miles away, not an easy feat if you are carless. Plus, I can't imagine him sitting immobile for a half an hour unless they let him play games on my iphone. Also, I wonder if it really helps children focus or not.

I've yet to read any testimonials to that effect. I know that if it really did work and "cured" my child, I'd be blasting it all over the internet, shouting to the tree tops to anyone who would listen about how miraculously it helped my son.

I am curious to learn of others experiences. Feel free to leave a comment.