Skip to main content

About a boy

This is probably not "politically correct" and you aren't supposed to compare, but you know when you have more than one kid, one is always....more....difficult? More intense, more full-on, just harder.

That has always been my son.

Well, this week we got a bit closer to unravelling the mystery that is Video Boy. And that is a good thing, because with understanding, comes acceptance.

To bring you up to speed, here are the highlights of a young life:

  • Dreadful sleeper as a baby. Seriously - he was asleep for those blissful first couple of weeks when babies get over the trauma of coming into the outside world and then he woke up. And stayed awake. And if I did manage to cajole, wrap, carry, rock, white noise, ignore him into a nap, it lasted precisely 45 minutes. By the time the evenings came, he was so overtired, he was a blabbering mess (or wait, was that me). The early days are a bit of a blur of post-natal depression and extreme sleep deprivation. No one tells you how soul-destroying it is to spend 20 out 24 hours in a day trying to get a baby to sleep and failing.
  • Amazing melt-downs as a toddler. I was on that parent helpline quite a few times because I was at my wits end on how to deal with this child who had lost the plot and didn't know how to find it again. Those were some dark days!
  • A sense of being "different" from the other kids. As I dropped him off to preschool so I could go to work, I had an overwhelming sense of him being sent as a lamb to the slaughter. I figured I was just over-reacting, but then preschool teachers started waving Aspergers checklists in front of me and I was concerned. Turns out he is not on the Autism Spectrum at all. So, that meant he was just "strange".
  • This kid could argue as soon as he could string two words together. Times haven't changed!
  • Whilst other kids were riding bikes, playing soccer, mine was reading Dragon Rider and asking questions about time.
  • When school started, I was so proud of his reading and maths. Not so proud of him being kept in because he refused to put pen to paper. Repeat for about 7 years.
Obviously there lots of lovely things about Video Boy growing up (or I may done something drastic). He is an affectionate, funny, smart kid. But life wasn't always rosy. Just so you know.

So, when he was 7, having ruled out Aspergers, we took Video Boy to have his IQ assessed by a psychologist who specialised in gifted children. She preferred Stanford Binet 5 - it has less timed questions and is more appealing to gifted kids who get bored easily. He did really well and turns out he is exceptionally gifted, with major over-excitabilities and a slight weakness in working memory, which a lot of gifted kids exhibit.

That answered a lot of questions! Now all we needed to do is get him appropriate educational options to address that giftedness and things would fall into place! Yep - we were on the right track now. Except after about six months, that gifted kids club was no longer functioning and we were still having meetings with Video Boy's teachers about his lack of written out and "not showing us his potential", despite him having a wonderful sense of humour and great general knowledge.

Outside of school we tried to interest him in swimming lessons, tennis lessons, martial arts, and gymnastics. None of these were a resounding success, with him struggling to match other kids his age and losing focus when he had to wait his turn. Sport at school was something that was endured, rather than enjoyed. The search for friends who had similar interests to him was limited to 2 kids (one in the year above him).

We moved him in Yr 5 (age 10) to a public school, hoping he would soon get off the waiting list and into the gifted class. Behaviourally, things took a turn for the worse, with increased teariness and anxious behaviour in the classroom (which quite frankly, bordered on scary), which attracted the attention of the school counsellor. He was also assessed at this time by the school's occupational therapist. She concluded that he had Developmental Motor Dyspraxia. OK - so this answered more questions! The bad writing, the clumsiness, the disorganisation. 

We took him out of school and homeschooled - best thing we've ever done! I am able to extend him in his areas of strength and try to support the writing issues and disorganisation as best I can. But it's still very frustrating.

I've read up of giftedness (I now have my Certificate of Gifted Education), read up on dyspraxia and sensory integration problems. I've read up on executive functioning and working memory and underachieving gifted kids. We've tried eliminating additives and preservatives from our diets. I've tried instructional scaffolding and assistive technology.

And yet, I still find myself increasingly frustrated with my beautiful, bright, charming boy. And worse, he is frustrated and getting angry. And as the teen years loom ever closer, this is not how we want to be functioning!

And so we have found ourselves investigating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (perhaps the more inattentive type). ADHD. Scary stuff - the media has not presented this well. Kids out of control, parents with poor parenting skills, medicating half our youth unnecessarily. It's enough to make you think twice. However, I actually read the medical and scientific literature, and when you back away from the hype, this is a condition which exists - just like epilepsy or diabetes or autism and is something that can be treated with great success - bringing wrung-out parents and their frustrated children back from the brink. And contrary to the media reports, is under-diagnosed, particularly in the gifted population where their ability can mask the disability (usually until they start high school, where executive function requirements increase dramatically).

So this week, after waiting 7 months for an appointment, Video Boy and I went to Sydney to see a developmental paediatrician. Armed with all our previous reports and a checklist, we/he answered questions, had a quantitative EEG, did the WISC-IV iq test, did achievement tests in spelling and writing, and did distractability tests. We also trialled a small dose of Ritalin and then did the distractability test again. It was a long day! The examiner noted he was very talkative (duh!) but increasingly de-motivated, restless and inattentive as the testing wore on (also duh!) and ended up at one point lying on the floor (can you imagine the school classroom! Gah!).

The paediatrician is not comfortable using the label of ADHD, but did say that Video Boy would be considered Gifted Learning Disabled (GLD or twice-thrice?- exceptional), which sounds counter-intuitive, but explains a lot. We will be trialling stimulant medication soon. I am really hopeful that this will settle those slightly abnormal brain patterns down enough to start to learn some good academic skills and settle his emotions down. Then we can start to see Video Boy really shine. The paed explained he is like a Ferrari, but stuck in second gear. On medication, we won't suddenly see him pour out 2000 word essays, but the subtle positive changes should make life easier for everyone, importantly including Video Boy himself. He also thinks there is a good chance that he will mature and the impacts of the condition will lessen, but that developing those fundamental executive skills in the teenage years is crucial for his self-esteem and positive family relationships as he grows.

Video Boy himself is relieved to know he is not a scatter-brain on purpose and there is not much he can do to fix it himself - "it's the way my brain is wired". He is positive about what the future might bring now. 

So we start on new adventure. It will be fascinating to watch and observe and if we are on the right path, then it will be amazing to be a part of a blossoming of a boy. I thought about staying quiet on this one, but it's our journey - warts and all, controversy pending. And maybe, just maybe, things will work out and maybe, just maybe, someone else may be helped by our story.


  1. You are such a good and devoted mom, Ingi. I hope you get it all worked out and everyone can relax. I'm sure this is stressful for all concerned.

    1. I just replied, but Video Boy was signed into Google! Anyway, I was just saying "me too" - because at times it's been a bit stressful. I'm under no illusions of miracles and the perfect child, but a little less scatter-brain and a bit more focus would be nice.

  2. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading the full story. I do hope things start to settle for video boy. :)

    1. Yep, that's us in all our glory! I'm hoping for more smooth sailing too :-)

  3. Ingi
    What a journey{} thanks for sharing. I have a friend who resisted ritalin for years, tried the fedup diet etc, finally she also looked deeper at ritalin and is using it with far better success than anything else previously.
    btw love the last pic of VB.

    1. I've only really just figured out the ADHD thing because he's not "hyper", but it took me a few months to get up the nerve to make the appointment. Hubby was sceptical, but he's coming around (not unlike homeschool!). The literature basically says the first step should be consider ADHD, and medicate then the other things might stand a chance of working.

    2. Oh, and yes, he is pretty handsome, isn't he? And this just captures him perfectly :-)

  4. Yes. Very familiar. My own son has been down this road as well. Your early childhood checklist read like his! I hope the meds help him, they've done great things for A.

    1. It's very comforting to know - much like the support I got when I was deciding to homeschool - took a few comments from people who said it was really working for their sons to tip me over the edge and we haven't looked back. I hope this follows a similar path :-)

  5. Glad you're finding answers. Can't imagine how difficult some of those times must have been. What an amazing mama, and what an amazing boy.

    1. Aww, thank you :-) I buried those memories a bit so I could cope, but it was tough at times. Different issues now, but hopefully we are closer to finding answers.

  6. Ingi, it's so good to read what you have been through as I have been and am going through something simlar with both of my older boys - and I'm still looking for answers. Talking loads and then ending up lying on the floor.. yep, that sounds so familiar! Good luck and I hope the medication helps. Just be prepared for a lot of trial and error (based on my experiences with ds2's anti-epileptic medication).


Post a Comment

Bloggers LOVE comments! We are pretty needy that way, so go on, leave some love :-)

Popular posts from this blog

I see...

We've had a couple of interesting weeks here. Video Boy has inherited his mother's shocking vision - he has myopia (commonly known as short-sightedness or near-sightedness). It occurs when the eyes focus light in front of the retina, leading to unfocussed vision.

Close up is usually OK, but distance vision is pretty fuzzy:

For me, even the couple would have been blurry! I was "medically blind" which meant I got my optometrist fees covered by Medicare (yay!).

So, Video Boy has had glasses for a couple of years now - he has broken one pair and then lost the replacement pair (grrr) and so for a couple of months, his world has looked like the picture on the right...and he was squinting to watch TV, read signs, pretty much all the time.
So, we went off to the optometrist last week to get us some new glasses!
The optometrist is up on all the latest research - with Wombat Girl, we bought a software program with special "lenses" and she had to do a practice session…

Creating order from chaos...

We have been diving headlong into an amazing rabbit trail of maths, and science and art and if I don't share with you some of these thoughts and experiences and links they will be lost forever like much of the mists swirling through my brain!

And there is SOOO much good stuff whirring through my brain that I don't know where to logically start and how to group it all so it might make some sense, so instead, I think I will just let you follow our story - our rabbit trail that led to so much good stuff...and maybe, you will like some of it too!

After viewing Vi Hart's diatribe on parabolas, the kids were keen to actually graph some parabolas. But before we actually got to that, Hubby wanted see the video, so we watched it again, and that led us to reviewing the ones on spirals and fibonacci:

As we were watching, Video Boy grabbed the graph paper (because you always have spare graph paper lying around, don't you?) and started experimenting with the fibonacci spirals shown…

52 Ancestors - So Far Away

This week's #52ancestorsin52weeks is Father's Day - but of course, it's not Father's Day in Australia, so I'm going to do the theme we had a couple of weeks ago when I was away - So Far Away.

When you first start doing your family tree, it's exciting to see how "far back" you can go with your branches. Until last weekend, the furthest back on my direct line was Benjamin Broome, my 9th great-grandfather born in 1646 in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England (grandfather of John Broom in my carpet story), which I thought was a long way back!

Last weekend, I was searching back to see if I could see a link between the Freemans on my Dad's side and the Freemans on my Mum's side (spoiler alert - not yet). Anyway, I was having a search on Joseph Freeman (my 5th great-grandfather born in Gloucestershire, England in 1765) and his wife - Sarah Arkell (my 5th great-grandmother also from Gloucestershire, England, born in 1767). Well, I had her father John…