Saturday, 12 July 2014

Impaired Executive Functioning - time to ditch the briefcase?

It's been a week since I went through the results of some testing H had done when I saw his Psychologist on Monday. And it's taken me that long to process the (extremely helpful) information.

I learned that H has poor Executive Functioning - which is often seen in children on the Autism Spectrum and in those with ADHD. But what does that MEAN?

Impaired Executive Functioning - Time to ditch the briefcase?

Image courtesy of savit keawtavee /

What IS "Executive Functioning"?

Executive Functioning is a set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action.

It is used to perform activities such as planning and organising, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space.

If you have trouble with executive function, these things are more difficult to do. You may also show a weakness with working memory, which is like visualising problems and planning in your head. This is an important tool in guiding your actions.

As with other learning disabilities, problems with executive function can run in families. It can be seen at any age, but it tends to become more apparent as children move through the Primary Years.

How does this impact on our son?

I have to admit I have a healthy scepticism for psychologists. Too-brief encounters invariably based on a subset of assumptions brought to the meeting on their part have led in the past to half-baked notions which rarely apply to my child. But THIS one is Gold. She gets him/us and took a whole hour chatting to learn more about what makes him, and his family tick. Not in a nosy "how deep can I dig" way but in a profoundly sensible, academic and purposeful way and very quickly saw a route through to possibly help him, hence the testing.

It's not unexpected with Autism or ADHD - so when both are present impaired executive functioning will likely be an issue to some degree. But no one had ever mentioned it to us before. Interestingly sometimes it can be confused with ADHD or ADD and may be the real issue which prompts an incorrect diagnosis.

As "ADDitude" website says:-
"Children and adults with executive function disorder (EFD) have problems with organizing and schedules. They may also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and/or learning disabilities, but not always. ADHD is a common misdiagnosis for those who are actually living with EFD."

The Tests

H had to plan a route through a zoo with a few key requirements. He just couldn't do it - it took several tries and every time he rushed through and got in a muddle. Then he had to work out how to release something locked in via a series of puzzles - which he found very easy individually but the sequencing and planning really stumped him. There were several other similar tests in which he performed much the same.

So no career in business then?!!
So maybe we could be ditching the briefcase as a diagnosis of Impaired Executive Functioning has been given but not as you might expect - do we ditch the ADHD diagnosis?

Certainly some should, having been incorrectly given an ADD or ADHD diagnosis because their impairments are not thoroughly investigated, since ADHD is so superficially similar in many ways.  But we don't think that is the case with our son, and neither do the professionals. His diagnoses stand, with the additional executive functioning impairment.

What this means for us.

I'm actually really excited about all this. That might sound daft but the thing is, nothing has changed. H is the same child I've mothered for twelve and a half years. He's still gifted and talented. He's still unbelievably skilled with computers and with his degree from the University of YouTube phenomenally knowledgable about so much. (Granted being able to speak Elvish and draw a map of Middle Earth accurately without looking are not crucial life skills but he's smart.) I have no more or less worries than before this information.

But information truly IS power. Because now we have more understanding we can help him more appropriately. He is completely unable to pack his bag for school, get himself ready in the morning remembering everything he needs to do. He cannot go out to meet friends without only one thing to remember, and everything else taken care of. He will honestly wander up and down the street unsure of where to go next if his route is not planned for him. He cannot remember, record, plan and execute homework, prepare for tests and needs a phenomenal amount of additional support.

  But the key thing here is that once that support and acceptance is in place, the focus can be on what he can then do with it, rather than why he cannot do without it.

So now we make sensible strategies to support him - rather than  constantly lecturing him on how to improve, nagging him for losing stuff, supporting teachers giving detentions for homework not done despite considerable support..... the emphasis has been constantly on what he ISN'T doing, what he SHOULD be doing and trying to make him meet targets his peers do.

It isn't going to happen. 

At least not in the same way.
And taking that constant cloud away from him - and us- is amazing. So liberating.
I can stop berating myself for his lack of organisational skills, my apparent failure to help him meet school targets for homework and preparation, for his inability to plan and prepare and grow more independent. Instead, I can slip a few support mechanisms in place, accept my parenting role isn't likely to change any time soon and focus on what he CAN do, what he CAN improve and know that in time, he will get there.

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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast

There is an interesting trend in our society that I have become acutely aware of. It's not new, but is certainly becoming more prevalent. It's pretty shocking in its apparent stupidity and deviates clearly from the past dichotomy in society between childhood and adulthood, which has always been profoundly entrenched.

I'm referring to the apparent need of so many (mostly upper middle class) parents to appear to forget all reason and scale and indulge their children to obscene degrees, almost as if they are forgetting that they are in fact children, and (unless visiting from some parallel universe where money does indeed grow on trees) children who will one day have to make at least some attempt at forging their own path in life.

Children with every adult techno gadget available, with the adult designer label clothes who are hurtling towards a kind of pre-pubescent emotionally immature adult status faster than their parents can offer the latest iPad.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /
The irony is that these children are usually the very ones who were spoilt toddlers and pre-schoolers, indulged with everything from the Great Little Trading Co. catalogue, the entire Mini Boden range at full price and encouraged to stay young and pampered for so much longer than many of their peers. But once they get beyond seven or eight - suddenly, they are no longer little children and metamorphosise overnight into mini adults.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Loosening the Reins

This weekend son #1 is camping in the wilds of the Welsh Marches to complete the Expedition component of his  Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. I'm not permitted to post a photograph of the pack he has to carry, mainly because I took it whilst he was trying out carrying it  in his pyjamas (!) but suffice to say he would have an easier time piggybacking either of his eight year old twin siblings than lugging that great thing for four days.

or maybe not... as rucksacks are quiet and generally well behaved, and camping is not something I would contemplate for one moment with his youngest siblings!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Coming up for Air

This week has been a week of some pretty impressive successes in our family. It's been a tough year and many times I've felt utterly overwhelmed, nervous I might drop the ball, forget a plate as they all spin wildly out of control, or unlike Mrs Skittle, not be able to ping back from yet another setback.

Yet this was one of those weeks where you can take a small step back and think  "Yes. It was all worthwhile" and admire the fruits of your (and their) labours.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Liebster Award

Thank you to Angela at There and Back Again - A Mother's Tale for nominating me for a Liebster Award! This was actually for my Dorothy Whiskers online magazine but since that is for children I needed to post the main article here.

A Liebster Award is an award for bloggers, a way to say, "Hey, I like your blog!" It’s a bit like a chain letter, I answer 11 questions and then nominate more bloggers with less than 500 followers to answer my 11 questions, here goes!

Today! #PoCoLo with VerilyVictoriaVocalises

Something different this weekend!

Since November I have thoroughly enjoyed promoting my Blogs. I love writing and wanted to expand my audience a little, plus I believe the more you read the more inspiration you find for your own writing, and the more informed and broad your own articles will be. It takes a lot of work trying to get noticed - and link ups are an important way of doing this. Many excellent Blogs don't have a Google "Page Rank" and without link ups you might never find them.

So here on my Blog this week I am delighted to be hosting the #PoCoLo link up for Vicky Welton who is currently at the BritMums Awards. A big thank you to Vicky and here's hoping her sterling Blogging efforts and fabulous support for other writers earns her an award!

My post this week is a (belated) discussion on trying to "do it all" as women, putting of our childbearing years only to find it's not as easy to have a family as we had hoped. Kirstie Allsopp has recently received much criticism for her opinions on women who want careers and babies. Much of the negative reaction was because people (as they so often do) jumped on the bandwagon without actually reading what she said. (My gran would have called it "picking up fag-ends"!!!) If you want to read my views on the subject you will have to follow my link!

If you are a regular on Post Comment Love then it would be great if you spread the #PoCoLo word. However, if you are new here then welcome! Post Comment Love is all about sharing posts which you have written this week which just haven’t got the attention they deserve and, with them all in one place, we can help each other share the comment love. This is one of the easiest links EVER. You don’t have a ‘special theme’ to have to write about, the post can be personal, sponsored, a photo, a review, a competition, your own linky, something you’ve linked to a linky….WHATEVER you like – it’s one you’ve already written this week! If you want some publicity and attention, then you are in the right place!
  • Please make sure you go across and comment on at least two other linker's posts. Linkys work if everyone supports each other :) then spread the #PoCoLo tag about this link up on Twitter. 
  • The post you link up has to have been written in the last week. 
  • The link goes up every Friday at 6.30am and closes on Sunday evening at 8pm.

This week’s newbie showcase is Jo from "Powered by Tea and Gossip"  

My name is Jo (aka Mrs Teapot) and I live in Derbyshire, with my husband 'Mr Teapot', our gorgeous son 'Little Teapot' & our English Springer Spaniel, Monty. 

I started blogging just over a year ago for several reasons really: 
1) I wanted to capture the experiences of being a mummy & didn't want to bore all of my friends (more then I do already!) with endless stories 
2) I hope one day to be able to show my son the stories about him growing up & my blog is my online scrapbook 
3) There's more to me than being a mummy & I want to explore my own experiences around health & well-being & having an outlet to do this has been really positive 
4) I enjoy writing & find it a wonderful escape from the pressures of daily life 
5) Blogging is my equivalent of having a notebook by the bed, as things often come to me when I cant sleep & so I write them! 
6) I would love to be able to expand on it & become a 'writer' one day, in whatever shape or form that make take. 

I blog anonymously. None of my friends or family know I do it, or have read any of my posts. One day, I would love to show it to them & see their reaction, although I probably worry too much about what they think! By blogging anonymously no one feels like they are under any obligation to read every post & comment on it & so the visits & comments I get are based on the merit of what I write, or lovely people who recommend me. This feels like a small victory, in a daft sort of way & it's something that is mine & mine alone, which feels special. I suppose you could say I haven't found my niche yet, or you could say that I just like to blog about all sorts of things, although I sometimes struggle to do it as much as I'd like (& have had a bit of a break recently, as things have been particularly hectic). Being invited by Vicky to be part of the wonderful Newbie Showcase has renewed my vigour & I will be back up to speed posting very shortly! I try to inject a little humour into my posts & hope you enjoy them. 
Please pop over & say hello, or tweet me at @teagossipblog !

After linking with #PoCoLo please pay Jo, and all the lovely linkers below, a visit. Have a great weekend xx

Vicky has a list for the Newbie Showcase running into April 2015. If you would like to be featured then please email her at so she can put you on the rota. 
Remember, your blog needs to be under a year old to feature from the time of sending your email to her.

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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Why Traditional Feminism is Failing Today's Women.

I've been reading reactions over the past week to Kirstie Allsopp's opinions on women planning careers and families. As is so often the case, much of the negative reaction she received was because people (as they so often do) jumped on the bandwagon without actually reading what she said. (My dad would have called it "picking up fag-ends"!) It is what much (knee-jerk) opinion on Twitter and other social media is based on too and is SO frustrating to someone making a valid point.

So what did Kirstie actually SAY?

Kathryn Grant on "Bumps and Grind" wrote an excellent post on this and I quote:-
"Based on my reading of the article, Kirstie made several important points about lifestyle choices (as well as some very touching comments on how this country deals with death and bereavement). Her point seems to be that, despite all the "choices" women now have, the one thing that cannot be changed is our biological fertility. We have increased life expectancy dramatically, but failed to lengthen the fertility window, so women (and men!) should consider their choices (study, work, house, kids) in a different order. "

"Mother And Daughter" by Ambro via

As any half-decent Historian or researcher will tell you, you need the Primary Resource - so in Kirstie's words from the Telegraph interview with Bryony Gordon:-

  “Women are being let down by the system. We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you’re 35. We should talk openly about university and whether going when you’re young, when we live so much longer, is really the way forward. At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue. [Fertility] is the one thing we can’t change. "

Sounds pretty obvious to me I hear you say.... so what on earth was the fuss all about?!
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