“My Story…” Monday: A – Linear Algebra

(You can catch up on A’s story right here: The Pregnancy, The Birth, The Infancy, The Quiet Toddler, Advocating, What He COULD Do, Just A Boy, The (Hard) Next Step, Making a Friend, The Autism Diagnosis, He Talks, Hyperlexia, Your Baby Can Read, Another Evaluation, A New Kind of Special Need)    


So, we were thrilled that our little guy continued receiving services both for his delays/deficits and his giftedness.  It was, without a doubt, an interesting dynamic.

One thing that was very, very apparent was that our son had a far easier time talking with adults than with his peers.  He had deep ideas and interesting thoughts, but his eye contact was inconsistent and he often chose “inappropriate” topics to brooch with his classmates.


For example.


When A. was four years old, he was in an incredible preschool.  One day a week, they had “second grade friends” visit their class.  A. loved that day.  He really enjoyed interacting with the older boys.  They did all sorts of cool things together.


At our daughter’s fourth birthday party (yes, they were four at the same time for awhile there), one of the moms approached me and this is what she said:

“Is A. some kind of math genius?”

  The room grew quiet and I, suddenly, felt very on the spot.  I’ve said before that it was very important to us that we not make a spectacle of our child.  I carefully responded, “Well, he is advanced in math and he really likes it.  Why do you ask?”


She laughed.  “Well, Matt (her second grade son) was in his class last Tuesday.  They were having fun making up math problems for one another.  Matt told me that A. had written down ’2x + 3 = 7′.  He was laughing and said, ‘So, I just had to tell him, Mom– “x” is NOT a number.’  And I let it go, of course, because- hello- he’s seven!  But I couldn’t stop thinking about A. who’s only four and, apparently, doing algebra…”


Eight pairs of eyes focused on me as the other mommies took this all in.  I smiled, flushed, and stammered, “Well, you’re absolutely right– no second grader needs to be learning about algebra!” and promptly changed the subject.


From that point on, it was kind of like “the secret was out.”  I continued to tread lightly and tried not to draw too much attention to A’s abilities.  We were, of course, proud of him.  I just didn’t want him to be defined by his ability to understand the linear algebra seminar given by a Stanford professor that he enjoyed watching on the iPod.  (Yes, really.)


We had the added complication that our son was both young and not real socially savvy.  As a result, he thought cubed roots were a great thing to talk about with his friends while they built a tower out of wood blocks.  They, of course, hadn’t a clue what he was talking about and likely found him very strange.    While we would never have the child who fell behind in reading or arithmetic, we DID have the kid who needed a lot of help “fitting in.”


So that’s what we focused on.  Over the next months, we worked with the therapists and made decisions to help support our son’s growth in non-academic areas.  Every child is individual and some need help in unexpected areas.  As a natural social butterfly, I set out to try to make “making friends” a bit easier for my precious boy…

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