Just when I thought we’d got everything sorted about The Boy’s Absence Seizures (one of many forms of Epilepsy) another problem leaps to the fore, the fact that he doesn’t know the art of concentration.
Sounds terribly silly doesn’t it. But imagine if you will having to do a timed maths test or a tricky piano piece for an exam. No problem, difficult but with a bit of concentration you can do it. Now get someone talking to you asking you incessant questions every now and then and you fall to pieces because you cannot concentrate properly.
Imagine if that was your whole life, if you knew nothing else. Just as you are about to grasp the nub of something you lose the plot, you miss the punch line, you cannot concentrate. With Absence seizures your brain stops for a few moments every now and then. You vague out, you are not there, some people may think you are day dreaming but as far as you are concerned no time at all has passed. Life is a broken record jumping about for no explicable reason. It must be very confusing. You have to try really hard just to get along. Now here’s a thing you cannot even try to concentrate because you actually need to concentrate in order to try.
So it’s no use me saying to The Boy: “TRY!” when he doesn’t know how.
So how do you explain the concept of concentration, of trying, to a child who has never been able to concentrate? It has me flummoxed. But I cannot tell you how often you need to try in the course of a day especially when you are an eight year old boy.
His reading is behind as is his writing, maths, all forms of sport everything because of being unable to concentrate and unable to try. Now he’s able to concentrate thanks to the drugs (ethosuximide) he’s on as he no longer has the absence seizures, but he doesn’t know how to apply it. He doesn’t know what to do. Most people learn pretty young that if you concentrate and keep trying you can do things and it comes easily for him it’s like he has spent a whole lifetime of disappointment and has given up.
His teachers forget or else don’t know that this is a problem and get cross with him or else write him off as not sporty, not musical, not arty, not academic. They say he has an attitude, a bad one and gives up too easily. I am saying give him a chance, support him, keep going with it because he’s going to get better and better and quicker and quicker but he needs them to be as enthusiastic and supportive as they would to a child three years younger. It’s a tall order I know, it’s not something that’s on the curriculum and it won’t be easy. It’s something I have to remember too.
Concentration is something we take for granted, we don’t remember learning it, so think therefore that it is easy to learn but as I am finding out it is an art…