There are no such creatures as leprechauns. But somewhere tonight there is a little, redheaded Irishman dancing around in his favorite green socks drinking whiskey and prattling on about a pot of gold. He has all the symptoms of a leprechaun diagnosis. But, there are no leprechauns really, are there? If suddenly society declares that leprechauns are real, and they are nonsensical Irishmen under 5’2” who dance with spirits in hand, does this man have a condition that needs diagnosing? Will he forever be treated like a silly, clover loving dreamer? Let’s stamp it on his forehead so no one takes him seriously when he starts passing out maps to the end of the rainbow. But what if there is an end to the rainbow? And he’s discovered a portal to a gold mine on Mars, and no one will humor him because, I’m really sorry folks, but this guy’s just a leprechaun.
We don’t believe in ADHD, but we’re pretty sure at least 2 of our kids have it. Does my child sound like an auctioneer at the end of a Texas cattle drive while doing his math assignments? Yes. Yes he does…
“And give me 2 and a 3 times a 7.. 7.. 7..that is.. that is.. that is..
and a 2 and where was I, where was I, and-a.. and-a.. and-a..
ya ..ya minus a 4 and uh.. uh..uh.. multiply the 10 the 10 the 10…..”
Can you hear him? The answer is 330, by the way. He is standing in front of his desk where he has just finished connecting all his markers into a mini rainbow skyscraper while blowing raspberries to the tune of “Low Rider.” He chews his fingers and walks in circles and figure eights when he is deep in thought. And when he is done thinking, and is about to say something he believes to be significant, he says it out loud, and then repeats himself under his breath once or twice for good measure.
I know they now have lots of initials and diagnoses for people like him. We haven’t bought him any. We homeschool where he is allowed to be himself and work his way, not chained or medicated to a desk. So labels aren’t necessary for us. I refuse to give him a reason to doubt himself, a crutch, or excuse not to be awesome. He needs no unnecessary stigma placed on his bio. We don’t have to conform to any institution’s idea of normal behavior. I don’t believe in ADHD, but I am pretty sure two of my kids have it by all standards of diagnosis, and all three probably could pick up a few sensory hashtags as well. Recently, I learned the term twice exceptional or 2e. The definition comes closer to identifying my boys than any other. I like the all-encompassing value of the term, but still I hesitate. My son is a whole mess of personality quirks, brilliant and unique. Brilliance that could be missed, if it were prefaced with a cloud of labels buzzing around him like flies.
He is a born leader and can quickly organize a group of kids to follow him. Any initials that go behind his name I hope he earns with a scholarship, Magna Cum something or other, BS, MBA, PhD, MU (Master of the Universe), GU (Guitar Hero). Because when he’s finished with that math assignment, I know he has probably gotten every problem correct, though I may need to go on a scavenger hunt to find them on the page. His “rain man” statement under his breath, more than likely, was really profound, or possibly witty and sarcastic beyond his years. He probably had been turning it over and over in his mouth before releasing it. And then he needed to relish the feel of the words after it escaped.
Can you imagine what would have become of Thomas Edison had his momma not rebelled against the labels? At 11 years old, Edison’s teachers thought him hyper, difficult and distracted. Hmm, sounds familiar?! So his momma took him home and let him be himself; no labels. Had she not, would we all still be reading by candlelight? And no phonograph means no recorded voice or music, which basically equates to no Led Zepplin or Johnny Cash. We’re talking utter break down of world order.
My son has a little brother that acts just like him, times 7. And he has a twin brother, who looks basically identical, but is his polar opposite. We’re talking night and day, fire, and ice, shaken not stirred. He sits firmly tucked into his desk desiring the kind of quiet that probably only comes after nuclear fallout. You can imagine how well they get along during a writing assignment. He is however easily excitable, his highs are too high, his lows to low. Rarely does he find his middle ground and sometimes we’re left peeling him off the ceiling or scraping him off the ground. We work on it daily. But, when he is talking about the possibilities of space-time fabric his emanating excitement draws you in like he is hosting an episode of Through the Wormhole. Which, he totally could if Morgan Freeman needs a sequel. Maybe we’ll call it Through the Wormhole…And Back Again, Several Times a Day.
Both twins adore IMAX theaters, but refuse to wear the 3D glasses and sometimes plug their ears at the strangest moments from sensory overload and fear of sudden loud noises. They prefer “soft pants” and you’d think I’d clapped them into an iron maiden when forced to wear anything with a button or zipper. They crave watching world news and then want to know, “Why Everything?” And by that I mean they become joint chiefs of morality, foreign relations and political affairs and would like to discuss these matters with their peers and any adult willing to step up on the stage of their microscope. Are they twice exceptional? Absolutely.
And you should hear them play the guitar…
I understand why moms seek to better understand the difficulties their child may have with learning and expected behavior. I know there are extreme learning difficulties that benefit from a diagnosis, guidance and sometimes medication. And I applaud all those moms and their courage and determination to the best for their children.
But not all eccentricities are a problem requiring a diagnosis. I worry about the new rush to quickly brand and sort children into definable behavioral groups. Don’t we homeschool to escape the rank and file? I will not create unnecessary limitations. Maybe mine don’t do childhood like society’s expectations. But boy are they doing it amazingly! I believe that their unique behaviors are the exhaust of beautiful minds at work. And pinning a label to a gas is as useless as trying to nail jello to the wall. I prefer to let them function as designed and, when they are ready, choose their own initials.