So, that’s the phrase I’m starting to hear. We have to keep our expectations realistic. Aspergers, ADHD, and Learning Disabilities are life-long conditions for which there is no cure. They can be managed but not eliminated. Accept her for who she is.
If my child had a broken leg would you tell me to just love her for who she is? Would you ask me if it’s really worth treating? Would you subtly accuse me of not loving her for who she is if we did the obvious thing and, you know, treated it?
I guess the current view is to treat it more like Type 1 diabetes–a chronic condition–than something that is treatable. But we still look for a cure for that don’t we?
This is the kind of thing that I find fascinating about brain dysfunctions. First of all, we don’t want to call it a dysfunction, because our brain maps form our our personalities, so it’s like saying that someone’s personality is flawed. Which, we don’t want to do. Second, and more to the point, we have a hard time believing that someone could not simply choose to be different.
Since my daughter’s problems started to surface I have become aware of other people’s struggles, particularly in the social realm. And I now realize that many people’s annoying behaviour is simply the result of a brain dysfunction, something they have little or no control over. And that dysfunction has prevented them from learning appropriate social behaviour. (Sidenote: knowing that doesn’t always make it less annoying.)
It is hard for me, when I see my daughter do something inappropriate and I explain her mistake and suggest a more appropriate course of action, that she CANNOT seem to learn it. I’ve actually become an ineffective nag in this regard. I seem to think that by repeating the same instruction endlessly that THIS time she’ll pick up on it.
But we now know that brains are plastic. Pathways can be built, re-built, re-mapped–whatever way you want to say it. But it needs to be done effectively, at the root of the dysfunction. And THAT is the trickiest part, finding the root of the dysfunction. For instance, to bring it into the learning disabilities realm. When we read we now know that 9 areas of the brain light up. So, a reading problem can be because of 1 of those 9 areas aren’t lighting up, or 3 areas, or all nine, or some endless combination or permutation of that. It’s not enough to say “this person can’t read.” And I think it must be the same with social learning.
The research on neuroplasticity is only about 12 years old and it hasn’t really made large inroads into the larger juggernauts of the medical and education systems. These systems are certainly not early-adopters. And I guess they shouldn’t be, because there are many, MANY people out there that claim that their cure works. It takes time to sift out the wheat from the chaff.
But in the meantime, until these systems can catch up with the science and incorporate it into their methodologies, I will continue to be unrealistic and expect that she can be cured. I will end up educating them, and demanding programmes that are controversial.
So, yes, she is perfect, and yes, she needs to be fixed.
I can contain that contradiction.
Suggested reading: The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. FASCINATING!
Knowing that there’s a physical reason for the stupid things they do or say doesn’t excuse it, but for me, it makes them easier to deal with. For a long time I thought I was just being a bad parent because I couldn’t get the rules through to the child. So, do we want them to be better? Sure. But seeing their brain function as a chronic condition seems to be the wise choice. It gives both parents and children time to work together.