The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Smart Ass

Today Claire and I were working on a Makit Bakit suncatcher. For those of you not familiar, it's a metal frame that you put on a cookie sheet, and fill with colored plastic crystals. Then you put it in the oven, the plastic melts, et voila, you have a suncatcher. This one came with 4 colors: red, blue, yellow and clear, in pouches about the size of one of those silica gel packets you get in...everything.

I put the crystals in little separate Dixie cups to make it easier for her to gently spoon them into the frame. Regardless, she's 4, and many of them went astray. I expected that. But then she began to make a bigger mess. While I was trying to clean up some of her handiwork in the frame with a pair of tweezers, she started taking handfuls of plastic beads. Naturally, they stuck to her clammy mitts, and her efforts to put them back in the cups didn't go well.

Finally I said, "Claire, please be careful. You're getting those everywhere, and I don't want to have to clean them all up off the floor."

She said, "No I'm not."

So I said, "Claire, I can hear them bouncing as they hit the floor."

So she said, "Well, you should wear earplugs so you can't hear them."

Now, out of a teenager, I would think that was a total smart ass remark. But guileless Claire? I think she really thought that was a solution!

Which brings us to an interesting point about Claire: she IS smart. REALLY smart. We had her tested.

About a month ago, we took her to see a psychologist. It was mostly for issues that have been causing concern. She's got some hyperactivity, and a serious problem with her attention span. She's got some sensory things we're concerned about. And it seemed every day she came home from preschool with another report from her teachers about how badly she was behaving that day. So we decided to seek some support.

The doctor we met with was really very nice. Craig and I met with her first, and then I brought Claire back for evaluation in two separate sessions. What we discovered, through a two-hour review with the doctor, is that Claire is even smarter than we supposed. She's reading at about a 7.5 year old level, and doing math at about a 5.5 year old level. Almost all her scores were >90th percentile. Even her "low" scores, on the bell curve, still came out at "average." I believe her overall FSIQ was 131.

What wasn't a high score for her (again, "average") were areas that relate to what they working memory, which is part of a group called executive functioning: skills that deal with planning, control and memory. Again, we kind of knew this, but it was nice to hear someone else confirm it.

So now we're trying to figure the best ways to help her. It's no wonder she's coming home from preschool saying she doesn't like it there because they're teaching her things she already knows. We missed the cutoff to be able to send her to a charter school for smart kids (because we fear she will be bored in kindergarten too) but we're looking into trying for next year. And as for her challenges, we're doing a lot of reading ourselves, and hoping to find some new methods that will restore some order around here and in school.

It's important to note that Claire has also developed a penchant for writing books. Often, she'll write to get out whatever negative feelings she's having about something, and she will write a letter about it. But sometimes she writes storybooks, and they're amazingly detailed, including illustrations, a title page and "end credits." I'm really into the idea of her writing to help get her feelings out though. I wonder why?

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