Today’s guest post is by Kelly Schmidt, mom to Nathaniel, and Ph.D. candidate in a developmental psychology program. For Kelly’s full bio, see the bottom of her post.
When Kevin and I were married 10 years ago, we understood that there were no assurances that we would have a child because I have an endocrine disorder that causes fertility problems. Nobody was more surprised or excited than us when we learned 2 months after our wedding that we were expecting. I chose the name “Nathaniel” very deliberately because it means “Gift from God”.
Nathaniel has a BIG personality. His smile is high wattage, his giggle is contagious. He is scary-smart and has an amazing memory. Sometimes he is so thoughtful and concerned about others, he takes my breath away. He has a very strong faith and knows more about the Bible than many adults. He loves sports (especially basketball), Legos, video games (much to my dismay), and reading (which makes me proud), and his brother Joel. He likes to draw cartoons, help make pancakes and cookies, and talks about Pokemon and Mario Bros. endlessly. He is 110% boy.
Nathaniel also has behavioral and psychiatric disorders. The behavior disorder is called Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD. The psychiatrist calls his psychiatric disorder a “Neurodevelopmental Disorder” but since insurance companies don’t reimburse for treatment of that, she calls it “Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)” for billing purposes. He has some features of bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety disorder, and even Aspergers syndrome. He doesn’t meet clinical criteria for any of those disorders, however, because he is typically not symptomatic anywhere else but at home.
I had to pay for summer tutoring all through grade school even though Marie was in special education. Marie requires much repetition to maintain where she is in a particular subject. Remembering and recalling information are part of her difficulties.
To help Marie not feel ostracized from the family, I incorporated a study program for all five of my children throughout the summer. For about an hour, five days most weeks, the children worked on academics. This time did not include when I would read to the children or when the other children would read on their own. I allowed the children to choose morning or afternoon as the time to work, and then kept it the same throughout the summer. They chose mornings as they were early birds and their friends were not.
Each child had a notebook and would work on grade level math and English [spelling/writing skills] with me. I’d be the one who spent the hours reading, checking, and writing comments on their pages. If they made mathematical errors, they needed to redo the problem. Grade-level misspellings in their essays required repetition of correct spellings. Then they just had to choose fancy stickers—after they read my comments—to place on their notebooks.
Marie worked with a tutor about three times per week. When she worked with the tutor, Marie did not do my notebook work. I ask the tutor to review grade-level math especially and science/social studies with Marie. I usually focused on reading and writing with the children.
Marie worked better with the tutor. She wouldn’t fight as much about doing the work. And she always wanted to know what her brother and sisters did while she was being tutored. Hence the need for me to work with her siblings while Marie was being tutored.
Now that Marie’s a part of the high school special education program, she is entitled to free tutoring, one on one, with a special education teacher about three times a week for a few hours with no homework involved. So far, so good.