Today’s challenge got to me

Today was an especially hard day for me.

My son is the biggest part of my life. He’s precious to me. His name is Connor. I’m very thankful to be a father and even more thankful that I had such a wonderful father myself.

My son has learning disabilities. They, as I keep on finding out, are subtle but severe. You can’t really tell because he seems young for his age. He’s relatively small and has a younger face. He also has Aspergers Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum. It’s called “high functioning” and it affects his academically and socially. He also has a hard time with some fine motor skills.

I’m a single dad. His mom is definitely involved in his life, but I’ve been his primary caretaker for most of his life and it can be hard. You see, today I was trying to get him to understand simple arithmetic. Basically, I was trying to get him to fully learn what number  + what number equals ten. 6 + 4, 7 + 3, 8 + 2. He couldn’t get right it a slight majority of the time. It was 7 + 2 or 8 + 3. My son can’t add single digits to equal 10. Connor is 13.

I don’t know how to help him fully get it. He’s forgotten how to ‘carry’ the one in equations, …so 19 + 10 = 29, but 19 +11 = 20. Children in first grade are learning this.

He gets frustrated and embarrassed. He gets tears in his eyes. I get a lump in my throat but I have to appear confident in him.

After a half hour of him getting things alternatively right and then wrong, I had to go for a long walk by myself. It was a truly beautiful fall day. I came upon this small park that I didn’t know existed. No one was there…it was just this small section of grass surrounded by small trees with two stone benches. I sat down and kinda looked off in the distance. Didn’t know what to think. The whole time my chest was tightened up.

I’m afraid that Connor doesn’t know the challenges he’s going to face. I’m afraid I don’t know them either.

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5 thoughts on “Today’s challenge got to me

  1. I so admire your patience and caring for your son. It’s hard. Really hard. My middle son was as high on the ADHD spectrum as they get, and yet, he found a passion (drums), and having that passion led him through the rough patches in school. If you haven’t discovered my friend Liz Ditz and her blog I Speak of Dreams, I recommend it highly. She is a great resource for parents of LD kids, especially having one herself. http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams and she’s @lizditz on twitter.

    Your son is going to be fine, because he has a dad who takes the time to help him add up numbers and experience life in his own way, his own time.

  2. Hey JP, always nice to see a dad sharing his experiences – keep on rockin’!
    As a single mom of a wonderful boy with quirks that could all too easily be labeled aspergers, I say don’t ever let words like “learning disabilities” and “aspergers” define who your son is, and don’t let fear guide your relationship with him.
    He is a shining being who has come to the world with his own unique gifts to be nurtured. Relax and enjoy the ride! Kids grow up so fast, and a loving and trusting relationship beats everything else in terms of equiping them with the life skills they’ll need later on for facing those challenges.
    Let him pick up the math at his own pace. Trust that he’ll be able to balance a checkbook by the time he’s 21 no matter what you do.
    Keep on breathing, and look at everything as if your son is the teacher and you’re the student for a change. You’ll be amazed at his wisdom and at the joy you two can share that way.
    Love & God Bless,
    Nicole

  3. Parenting can be immensely difficult, and very lonely at times. I have a friend (single Dad) with a disabled child who will never be “fixed” due to the nature of his disabilities, and only that mysterious force called parental love gets him through each day. My five are all “normal” but the daily challenge is so immense as to often seem overwhelming. Hang in there – you’re not alone!

  4. Many thanks to all three of you for your inspiring comments. It’s just discouraging to see him struggle. I’ll be working with him daily and conferring with his teachers.

    Thanks again!!

  5. Jonathan,

    Raising children is challenging, especially for a single dad whose son has learning challenges.

    There is a lot to navigate and there are people who can help.
    Formerly I was Executive Director of an organization named NACD. These people can help you. Take some time if you can to look at their website http://www.nacd.org.

    You and Connor will be fine. Take it one day at a time and
    know he has the potential to do anything with you as his guide.

    My best,

    Alex Doman
    CEO & Founder
    Advancd Brain Technologies

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