Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Alex's Strengths And Weaknesses - The Conundrum Of A 2E Child


Song:  Bridge Over Troubled Water

Artists:  Simon And Garfunkel


A 2E Child...
is a child who has realized great statistical odds against
any one child having a very high functioning Autistic condition
(rare in itself - being at the upper end of the wide Autistic Spectrum)...
and being Profoundly Gifted
(an exceedingly rare state of being)...

and so...

2E
(Twice Exceptional).


The conundrum being that while Alex is exceptionally strong
in so many areas...
he still has deficits that he must strengthen...
ones that come naturally to most children.

If it weren't so potentially serious...
it would be a ludicrous state of being for an exceptionally intelligent 
person to be in.

I will be covering his basic strengths and weaknesses to give you an 
idea at the wide disparity that encompasses his range of capabilities

(He had to learn what is intuitive
to many children...
and he had to conquer many obsessions and compulsions).


Before I go further...
I have to, once again, so very gratefully acknowledge
the great staff that had provided Alex's ABA therapy when he was 3 years old.


They had Alex conquer many of his earlier deficits...
and so much of what they had taught him...
formed the basis of our parenting.

Our first real clue to Alex's giftedness came while Alex was in preschool.



As Alex continued in public school...
my wife wanted to have Alex tested by a leading Child Psychologist
who specialized in the IQ and Performance testing of gifted children.

My wife wanted evidence to present to the school that he needed more advanced 
learning material and grade advancement.




Alex was 8 years old at the time...he had just finished the 3rd grade.



This was the result of his Achievement test as given by Dr. Palmer.

Briefly...

The AE stands for Age Equivalent
(The average age of participants performing at the same level in the given material).

The GE stands for the Grade Equivalent
(The average grade of the participants at the same level in the given material).

The Easy to Difficult (Diff) is the age level
he was performing at from no mistakes (easy)
to finally failing to answer correctly (difficult).


Earlier that year...
my wife had gotten Alex into the testing for an international
achievement test.


Alex also completed Intro to Algebra in 3 months in 3rd grade
(the school had Alex go to a computer lab to take an online 
Intro to Algebra course in lieu of math in class).

It was these scores...
as well as a portfolio of other achievements...
that my wife had submitted to get him accepted as a
Young Scholar at the Davidson Institute.



He is also a very sweet, loving and happy child.


So...

What potential problems could exist?

What deficits could possibly hamper his journey in life?



Alex, although officially diagnosed as in the Autistic Spectrum...
the spectrum is very wide...
and up until recently...
a condition that existed in the Autistic Spectrum...
Asperger's Syndrome
(which Alex fits into by symptoms...
or into High Functioning Autism)...
is what we think Alex has.

He tends to be rigid in his thinking
(sees the world in black and white).

Hmmm...
I wonder where he got that?  :)


He is very detail oriented...
sometimes to the exclusion of the wide picture...
the implied or hidden meanings.

He has difficulty in judging true emotions of others
through their body language
(obvious signs no problem...deceitful actions...problem).

He is forgetful and generally disorganized in everyday affairs
(although he has greatly improved - he would forget to bring home his
homework when he was going to school)...

Ok...perhaps those came from me also...  :)

He is subject to over stimulation by physical/visual/auditory stimuli
(although he, again, has greatly improved - he can function normally
in normal situations...but when surprised by loud noises or sudden...
potentially dangerous situations...he freezes or over reacts).

I fear he will be taken advantage of by evil people...
as he is so trusting and gentle.

I greatly fear him starting to drive.

There are times when an accident is unavoidable...
and it is crucial to react correctly
to avoid greatly exacerbating the situation.
Although, I shall make all efforts to have him taught by professionals
(including a race car or bodyguard driving school for the correct 
handling of the car under extreme circumstances).
I shall also thoroughly drill and train him once he gets his permit
(all weather and condition driving...as well as endurance driving...
to let him know how his body reacts under fatigue).




His physical coordination was so off initially...
he couldn't control his arms when he ran.
They would just go everywhere...
out of synch with the rest of his body.

Sports has greatly improved his coordination to the point
of his being able to do very coordinated gross body motions.

Although his tics have greatly decreased from what they were...
every so often, he reverts
 (I had taught him the same techniques I had used
as a child to conquer my tics...
and, for the most part, they have disappeared).



His mother has done an outstanding job with everything relating to his academics.  
She has researched his condition and tutored him
with the best material available.  

From the online courses he uses...
to the detailed explanation of the concepts of the material...
she has been his greatest teacher.

One of the areas of great deficit in many on the Spectrum.

While he excels at most of the areas above...
to have any deficits in the above areas...
could mean the difference between 
succeeding or struggling in life.

His areas of weakness include...


Independence

He is behind in this aspect.
I will be concentrating on this area...
life skills and the application of concepts...
to navigate through the jungle that is, at times, life.
Although he has great skills...he lacks practical experience.



Social Responsibility and Interpersonal Relationships


As I am basically a social klutz...
my wife shall be handling most of this.



Stress tolerance and impulse control


Although I lack in the above...
when it comes to anger...

I have developed techniques through life...
that have allowed me to not be overcome by it...
to the point of no return.

I have successfully retired from a job because I had
learned to control stress and impulsive behavior.

While this is not especially difficult for most people...
it was for me.


I have a quick temper...
and while many people do...
I had sometimes acted upon it...
in my youth.

One of my greatest fears, for much of my life...
was I would do something rash...
utterly impulsive...
that would destroy my life.

Although it seems counter intuitive to have someone
who has a tendency to be outspoken...
and quick reacting when injustice is perceived...
it is because I have greatly curtailed it to the point
of being able to navigate the great river of life...
without ending up on the shoals...
that I know how to teach what has worked successfully for me.

Because Alex, and I, share this trait...
I have an insight to the mitigation of it.



Flexibility


My wife teaches this.

I am still considered to be...
somewhat...
inflexible.

Although...
I don't believe I am...
many in my life seem to think so.

Hmmm...

and so...

wifey will teach this.  :)


It is because of his lack of apparent social graces...
that I fear there will be others later in his life...
that will take great delight in sabotaging him or his efforts.

Because they will feel slighted...
unknowingly by Alex...
I fear many will attempt to use Passive Aggressive actions...
or more directly through...
gossip and emotionally charged words...
in an attempt to get him to self destruct on the job.

Although he has great empathy toward others, as well as animals...
he doesn't know how to express it so well as would be expected
by others.

The great myth is that Spectrum children don't feel emotions.

They not only feel them...
they feel them to a much greater depth.

Often times...
they simply don't know how to effectively deliver their 
message to others in a manner other than directly.

The social rules that many cling to...
mostly out of convention...
don't make much sense...
and so, they often reply...
without perceived tact.

Or..not knowing how to deliver it...
or even not understanding a conflict over what is said...
and actions that should have been taken and not...
they simply don't say anything at all.

While many people attempt to establish a personal connection
through a description of a problem...
the spectrum child will attempt to solve the described problem...
instead of seeing the real reason behind their mentioning it in the first place.

While many wish to simply have a note of sympathy from the listener...
to be heard and understood...
and so have their existence acknowledged and empathized with...
the spectrum child will often take the question or statement literally.

Many people will take this as not really caring about them.

In short...
many Spectrum children do understand what others are feeling...
just not why.

Their motives often escape children on the spectrum.


Hmmm...

is it really a deficit to want others
to say what they really mean?


Anyway...

We, as his parents...

by teaching him...
supporting him...
 making sure he succeeds
in his efforts to establish a life filled with happiness...

 shall be his...

Bridge Over Troubled Water...

whenever...
wherever...
by whatever means.





6 comments:

  1. While hearing about Alex's marvelous abilities is always interesting, it is also good to hear about his deficits, and how you are addressing them. It's also nice to see that you have a good sense of humor about your own traits. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you...although, we still have some challenges ahead...it is because of his optimism and drive...that I know he will eventually succeed in finding his place of stability and deep satisfaction. He knows how to be happy...that in itself, often escapes many in the world.

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  3. >Shiroi Toraさん

    Thank you for your comment.
    Each time I read an article about your son Alex ,I am really moved and amazed .
    This is my apology that it is too good to leave my words here .( ←Hope you do not get bad feeling from this line.)And I wish I could have my own child like him. ^^  Maggie-toto

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi...Maggie-toto. I thank you for your kind words. What I love, most of all, about my son...is his pure heartedness. He is very compassionate and very kind. He always has been. That is why I fear some for his future. There are those in this world...who out of an aggressive nature...that will attempt to dominate him. I am working hard with him to build his physical and psychological defenses. His feelings, right now, get hurt fairly easily. With greater experience and coping skills...as well as his physical / psychological armor...we are working with him to ensure he won't suffer at the hands and mouths of others. He is advancing well. We will continue with our guidance as long as necessary. Thank you again for stopping in. See you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bruce lee was a master of avoidance and delivering precision and extraordinary power to a focused point. Alex can do the same with words. I like the way a good comic can make a heckler shrink back.... All you have to do is give him a quiver of really good ones.

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  5. With honed critical reasoning skills...Alex will be able to deconstruct bogus arguments...and not have to worry about the poorly constructed ones. He knows that in the long run...he shall succeed because of his study habits. This will lead him to a greater life. The evil in his life...he shall leave behind to choke on his dust.

    ReplyDelete

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