Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Hi everyone! It seems like it's been years since I've blogged, but it has actually only been a few days. I just thought of something interesting. I have both ADHD and Aspergers, and I just realized there is something in common that people who have just one of these issues have in common with each other. People with ADHD often call it hyperfocusing. People with autism (or at least people who work with people with autism... because I'm sure some people with autism actually find this word offensive) call it perseverating. (Maybe people with autism should also call it hyperfocusing. Because I think hyperfocusing makes it sound more like a positive thing, and possibly a superpower, while perseverating makes it sound like a bad habit that needs to be stopped. What would you like to call it?) You know what I'm talking about, right? The ability, or need, to think about one specific topic, even when other things are happening around you.

For me, it usually happens when I get involved in a project that really interests me. Like this blog, for instance. When I first started it, I was constantly thinking about it, and wasn't really interested in doing anything else with my free time. By now it has kind of blended into my regular routine. But when I am working on a post I feel strongly about, it is very hard for me to stop thinking about it! So lets say I am writing this post, and I'm really excited about it, and all day I've been thinking about what I would write in it. Then I come home and get started, and I'm working hard on it, and suddenly someone tells me it is time for dinner Which does happen, since I'm staying with my parents. It is hard for me to just stop what I'm doing, get up, and go eat dinner. I will often just ignore the person calling me, for the first few times, until eventually I can't avoid it anymore. (If I am by myself, this would happen in the form of my ignoring my hunger until I am too light-headed and shaky to type!) When I finally go up to get dinner, I'll still be thinking about my blog post, usually while spinning around or flapping or jumping, because when I am perseverating hyperfocusing I tend to get stimmy. I also talk about it a lot, to the point where other people just start ignoring me because they don't really care about my blog post. And then what I usually do is eat my dinner as quickly as possible, to get back to the interesting task that is holding onto my attention!

This can also come in the form of being obsessed with a certain topic. For a long time, my dad and I used to watch Gunsmoke every night. (Reruns on DVR.) Hey, let's watch some now!

For example, just now, I spent half an hour just searching for the right Gunsmoke clip to post here. There weren't many to choose from, so this isn't the best example, but you get the just of it,.  Anyway I really loved that show and I would think about it all the time, and even dream about it at night!

Anyways, as of late I've been hyperfocusing on a few things. One of them is getting ready for my summer job! I can't remember if I posted this before, but last summer I worked for five weeks as a teacher for a special education summer school program. I taught first, second and third graders, most of whom had Down syndrome. It was challenging but fun! I reapplied to teach there again this year, and I found out I was hired!!!!!

The bad news is, for this program they never get around to telling you what grade or ability level you'll be teaching, until about a week before it starts... and then you don't get the children's IEP's until a few days ahead of time! The IEP's make all the difference. See, last year I knew a week ahead of time that I'd be working with first through third graders. But I had no idea that, of my first through third graders, some would be working only a little below grade level, while others would still be working on learning the alphabet sounds! Until I got the IEP's, I couldn't even begin to make lesson plans. So the whole summer was really a fly by the seat of my pants experience, with me spending every morning teaching, and every afternoon and evening planning the lessons for the next day!

This year I think I've figured out a better way to go about it. I'm going to start planning general lessons way ahead of time (like, right now) and then I'll just adjust them according to the kids I'm working with.

Last year was also hard because, since the kids had so many different academic levels, I was planning out separate lesson plans for each group of kids. I had them divided by what goals they were working on and I'd give each group a different lesson plan or activity. This year I've decided to simplify it a little... I'm just going to make one basic lesson plan for each day, and then modify it for different kids. For instance, I might do a certain game with all of the kids during reading groups, but one group will play with alphabet sounds, another with kindergarten level sight words, and another with second grade level sight words. Does that make sense?

So this is what I've been perseverating on a lot lately! I've decided that we'll have a theme every week and do lessons around that. The program actually has a different theme every summer, so at least one week has to be dedicated to whatever that theme turns out to be. But the other four themes are going to be lemonade, the Fourth Of July, oceans and beaches, and pirates!

The lemonade theme is because, last year, I made fresh-squeezed lemonade with the kids. It was great because they had to practice reading the recipe, following directions, and measuring, and also using language to talk about the texture of the lemons and the taste of the lemonade! So this year I decided to dedicate a whole week (which will actually just be three days, since the week we're doing it, they have two days off) to lemonade, and include books about lemonade, lemon-scented playdough, etc. Planning it all has been keeping me really busy... I can't wait for it to start!

I wish, wish, wish I was planning for a real school year! Maybe next year I'll actually have a teaching job?


  1. I do some of these things because of OCD. The OCD is probably exacerbated by the bipolar disorder. The two conditions tend to magnify each other. So, I get double the pleasure, double the fun.
    Thanks for stopping by at The Cheese Whines! Sorry I was so late getting to your comment. I've been involved in this damn A to Z challenge on some of my other blogs and am thinking of pulling the plug. It's not fun right now.

  2. I hope you get a real job next summer! It sounds like you are a really good teacher and that's what kids need. You are really sincere about doing the best for each individual. I think I sometimes hyperfocus too! My husband gets a little frustrated with me when I don't pay attention to him when I have things I'm working on. I know my son has some ADD and he has always hyperfocused on anything to do with history since he was very young. He is in college now studying history and as a freshman is getting lots of attention from professors. I think sometimes hyperfocus can be a good thing.

  3. I can promise you that the fact that you're thinking about this so much now (hyperfocusing is such a better word, and I agree it sounds like a superpower) will guarantee that the kids who you'll work with will benefit from you and your programs. It does suck a little that you don't get to see the IEPs until just a few days before the program starts but I think you've got it all figured out. I wish my son Tucker could be in your program - the lemonade week sounds awesome! So does beaches and pirates. Lucky kids to get to have you as their teacher this summer, Angel. Keeping my fingers crossed that this leads to a more permanent teaching job for you. Also, I'm totally loving the bunny background for Easter :D


All SPAM will be deleted immediately, so don't even bother!
If you have a Blogger profile set to allow email replies, I will reply through email! If not, I often reply in the comments section, so please check back.
Go ahead and tell me what you really think! I won't get mad!