On belay

During the spring and summer, we were dealing with trying to figure out what was going on with our six year-old. His behavior at night was becoming increasingly confounding, and we were starting to look for answers as to why his energy and mood, especially at that time of day, were mercurial, frenetic, and seemingly beyond his ability to manage. One night, feeling particularly perplexed, I hopped on Google to see if a diagnosis might just pop up to explain why my child was acting like a wind-up ninja robot crossed with a wild animal dispossessed from its natural habitat. Instead, the internet gave me this:

…which, admittedly, made me laugh despite my frustration and overarching concern. A month or so later, we began to suspect that we were dealing with a diagnosis of “twice exceptional”, which in our case meant a coexistence of ADHD with extraordinary intelligence quotient. Naturally, I looked into all of the media feeds I could find in hopes that information-sharing there could help us find ways to ease the repercussions of the complicated interplay of neurology transpiring inside my son’s mind. While researching the different groups devoted to kids who fall into the 2e category, this post stopped me in my tracks:

It felt a little like pieces of a puzzle fitting themselves together. And only few days later, after describing to my mom how Arlo insisted on scaling the staircase by holding onto the banister with both hands and stepping sideways up the moulding, putting one foot after the other between the vertical rails by reaching each leg behind the other to find the next foothold, she coincidentally sent this text:

While I don’t think it’s feasible for us to turn our house into a gymnastic warrior training course, this made me catch my breath a bit. Here was the maternal incentive at work, a desire to improve the life experience for kids with differences, to shape the world around exceptional children to befit their version of existence, to adapt the environment as a way of easing the walk they walk. Rather than trying to change them to comply with a reality that doesn’t belong to them, this was the inclination to meet them where they are and work with them there, forgoing even the faintest suggestion that they should be anywhere else or transform to conform with a landscape that doesn’t contain the niche their neurochemistry determines that they inhabit.

This isn’t to say that I think life should, or can, be easy for anyone, let alone children with exceptionalities, and removing all difficulty and challenge surrounding them would be doing them a disservice. But it is a cheerful notion to consider the ways we can mitigate some of the hardship involved in their climb through life, offering handholds and footholds here and here and here, so the path they’ll follow, though it won’t be any less steep, will provide more points of purchase, more good grace to grip.

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