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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Literal Thinking Etc.

When discussing Dr. Martin Luther King at school a couple of months ago, one of the parent volunteers asked Julia what she thought Dr. King's dream was. Julia pondered the question for a minute and answered, "I bet his dream was that he was white...then he never would have gotten shot."

This is how Julia thinks. Literally, logically and in a very distinct black and white pattern (no pun intended). There is no gray area for her. There are many examples of this...like when she walks down to the art room at the MECC, and refuses to say hi to her old preschool teacher or pop her head into her old classroom. You see preschool is part of her past. That part of her life is over so she has no connection to it any longer. Or the time I told her I was going to kill two birds with one stone while running multiple errands and she thought I was going to kill a bird. Then there was the time at school when she went to the girls room and found the toilet seat up (she must have been the first one in there after they had cleaned or something) and declared (again with the logic) that there must have been a "Daddy" in the building. There is of course the time she told her bus driver that because of Rosa Parks and Dr. King, she could sit wherever she wants on the bus and didn't have to sit in the front anymore.

She also speaks her mind...no matter what it is. Recently at a basketball game there were some young kids playing next to us with no parent close by. They were being a little rambunctious and Julia said to them, "Do you have a mother or what?" clearly trying to tell the kids that their mother (or even just an adult) should be there to tell them to stop being so wild. There was also the time when we were sitting in a restaurant and a gentlemen in the booth across from us took his glasses off to read the paper. She asked him quite loudly why he didn't just put his glasses back on so he could see what he was reading. A couple of weeks ago, a boy in her class had been out sick for a few days, came back to school and was hyper and bouncing off of the walls. She told him if he was going to behave that way then he should have just stayed home. The other day at the playground, a couple of teenage girls brought their younger brother with them and she told them they couldn't play there because the playground was only for little kids and they were too big. These examples aren't all that bad considering her age (5), but she is right at that line though where it goes from being cute and funny to inappropriate and rude. The difference between my other kids at that age is that if Emily and Katherine had said something like any of the examples above at the age of 5, I wouldn't have had any doubt that they would have known they were not being appropriate and would have understood when I explained that to them. Julia does not get it.

Socially, Julia interacts with adults much more frequently and comfortably then she does with her peers. She will play along side peers, but not often with her peers. She doesn't stay on topic unless she is continually reminded to do so and often won't initiate conversations without prompting.

Academically, she is a math whiz. She enjoys math...counting, patterns and sequencing are easy for her to grasp (not surprising considering the logic and literal thinking involved in math). English Language Arts is a bit more difficult for her. She struggles a bit with reading, communicating and retelling stories, and the appropriate use of social language. Considering everything I have just said, this too seems to make sense to me.

Julia also tires very easily...both physically and mentally. Maintaining focus for her isn't just a matter of concentrating harder...some tasks are just too much for her. Physically, she tires a lot easier than other typical kids her age might. Her tone is low so she has to work a lot harder to achieve some of the physical milestones that other children achieve easily or with little effort.

All of this? Is why she is staying back. It is also why I think she will some day soon be diagnosed with Asperger's or some type of "spectrum disorder." It's not like a diagnosis really matters as long as she gets the help and services she needs. I don't know if this makes me sound awful, but sometimes, I think my life and hers might just be easier if we had some sort of "excuse" or "reason" for how she perceives and interacts with the world. One thing I know for sure? I wouldn't change a thing about her. All of this is what makes her so unique and special, and while sometimes, I wish she didn't have such a struggle, I can't imagine the victories being as sweet as they are.

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