Today we had another rough night here at chez Spontak. Hannah and I arrived home to a blinking answering machine. The teacher had left a message for me to call the moment I walked in the door. That's NEVER a good sign. Apparently Hannah had been perservating on some candy canes hung on a tree in the classroom all day and now one of them was missing (the teacher knew the exact number b/c there was supposed to be one for each child in the class). She wanted me to check Hannah's backpack and search her person to see if she had taken the candy cane. She said she hated to blame her, but she just had a gut feeling. I searched and there was no candy cane to be seen. I asked Hannah if she had taken it and at first she said no and when I asked her if she was sure or if she knew what had happened to the missing candy cane she said she had taken it and broken it up and hid it in the trash can. While I was waiting for the secretary at the school to put me through to the classroom Hannah changed her story and said that she actually took the candy cane last Tuesday and it was the one she had brought home with her from school and said was from the resource room teacher as a treat for not complaining during her math quiz. We thought this was an odd reason to get a treat, but let it go. After talking to the teacher I found out that Hannah hadn't even gone to the resource room at all last week so she couldn't have gotten the candy cane from Mrs. D. The candy cane we saw was indeed the missing one. We discussed consequences and decided that Hannah would simply not get a candy cane when the rest of the students got theirs since she had already had one. When I tried to talk to Hannah about what had happened and attempted to inform her about the consequences of her actions all heck broke loose. She became alternately aggressive and avoidant. She refused to discuss the matter or even listen to what I had to say. Any attempts to force the issue were met with painful blows to my body. After about an hour she calmed herself enough that I could talk to her without threat of physical aggression, but she still was unable to add much to the discussion. She seemed completely unable to articulate her feelings or her reasons for her actions despite her advanced verbal skills. When she began sobbing uncontrollably I tried to ask her if she could tell me what she was feeling and she wasn't even able to say she was crying because she was sad or angry. I eventually prompted her with sad to try that out and then asked her what she might be sad about. She was still unable or unwilling to fill in the most obvious reason for her sadness. Instead when pressed to give an answer she listed various made up scenarios with her stuffed animals that were bringing her sadness. It was a frustrating exchange for both of us. The thing is, she can identify emotions in characters in books and movies or on facial expression cards, but seems unable to identify her own emotions or the reasons for them. Though she has verbal skills that would put many 10 year olds to shame she's unable to utter a simple "I'm sad" when asked why she is crying. It's so frustrating for me because I don't know how to help her with these big feelings and how to give appropriate consequences when she seems unable to connect her feelings with her actions. We've got an appointment with a new psychologist the first week of December so hopefully we'll finally get some help. I feel like we've been bouncing from person to person for years with no real help and if we don't get some help helping our little girl soon it will be disastrous for her self esteem. I already see it affecting her. Even tonight she said she was a dummy. If a profoundly gifted little girl can possibly think she's a dummy then you know there is something going on with her self esteem.
Goodbye Sappho and Welcome Mittens
3 weeks ago