Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Amazing Michael

Yesterday was therapy day in the Peed household.

My son, Michael, has a learning -- uh-- difference that has to do with a lack of fine motor control. This makes reading and writing very difficult for him... our optometrist in Chicago described it as trying to read or write while jumping on a pogo stick on a bumpy road. His eyes constantly refocus and backtrack which makes reading an enormous task.

Last May we found a behavioral optometrist in Marquette (110.8 miles from our house) who claims to be able to help develop visual and motor skills to cope with this issue. Every Monday for 40 weeks, I pick Mike up after school and drive for 2 hours to get to therapy, sit and knit for an hour, do drive-thru to get dinner and drive 2 hours home.

Every night we do the therapy-of-the-week for 30 (or so) minutes. Every 8 weeks we do a progress check. Michael has been "put in charge" of his therapy. We don't remind him, we don't nag him, he needs to remind us that it's time to do therapy. He's done pretty well, overall. His reward is that when he gets a good progress report, we stop at his favorite restaurant-- Red Lobster.

As of his first progress report, he was (in 3rd grade) reading at 1st grade level with 70% accuracy and his eyes were backtracking an obscene amount (like 1080 times). After 8 months, he is reading at a 4th grade level with 70% accuracy and his eyes are backtracking 147 times. Yippee!

I've certainly noticed the improvement, as has he... we had dinner at Red Lobster last night.

One of the things this time alone with Mike has provided is "just us" time to talk. Sometimes we talk about Yu-Gi-Oh or Karate. Sometimes we talk about school, or friends. Sometimes he sleeps, or we sing along to the radio...

Last night, he was in a philosophical mood. We started out by talking Politics. He thinks the President is "dumb" because he "got us into a war" and "people are getting killed, maybe even Uncle Sam." So we talked... we talked about reasons for fighting and situations when it's ok to fight and when it's not. It's possible that he's thought about this more than the "normal" 10 year old because he's been in Karate for so long and it's something they talk about there.

He has, he tells me, "rules for ok fights." It's ok to stand up for yourself. If a "bully" is yelling at you, you can't hit them. If s/he hits you, you can block, you can tell the teacher, or, if you have to, you can hit them. If a "bully" is picking on someone smaller than they are, you can stand up for them. If a Big Kid is picking on a Little Kid, you should tell them to knock it off, you should get the teacher, or you might have to hit the Big Kid. If a Big Kid is fighting with a Big Kid, you should tell the teacher, or get Dylan (Dylan is my nephew, who is older and bigger and respected amongst the other big kids). If a grown up you don't know grabs you, you should get away, run away, or hit them, "depending".

We extrapolated these rules into countries and wars. Should the United States go to war to fight to protect the Jews in Germany? What about when we were attacked in Pearl Harbor? Those were both a sound YES. What about Afghanistan after 9/11? Yes. "But mom," he says, "Saddam Hussein wasn't attacking us, he was just calling us names. And we shouldn't fight with a bully who is only calling us names... that makes us a bully, too."

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