AV has “proximal” memory issues. This means that he has a hard time retrieving known information from different places in his brain and putting them together to, say, do an Algebra problem – addition, fractions, orders of operations, fractions is division, reducing, inverse of a square root, balancing an equation, etc.
At the age of 4, AV had perfect letter sound recognition and could read large print “readers” with ease. But in third grade he still couldn’t read well at all. We had him tested then and discovered that his eyes don’t track at the same rate. One eye moves slightly faster. He worked hard to recognize when it was happening and “control” it. We attempted to have him psychometrically evaluated in the public Montessori he was attending, but they said that he was too smart for services and come back and talk with them in the 7th grade. That would be when “it would catch up with him.” Really!
Last time he was tested was in 4th grade and his memory was at a second grade level. That’s not too bad. We weren’t concerned. However, after three years of the same maths work he still wasn’t getting Algebra. Actually that isn’t true. He can get it if you show him again. It’s not like it’s gone. The order and paths have to be rebuilt after about two weeks of not doing the exact same type of problem. He is just extremely bright and can often compensate in other ways to cover his tracks. Algebra had become an albatross. So, we had him tested a couple of months ago.
We were shocked to find that his memory was still in the second grade level. Needless to say we’ve been working very hard on strengthening all the brain muscles surrounding his retrieval memory.
In practical life, this difficulty remembering has lead to many unfinished projects. He would become frustrated and then demoralized when he would stumble on something he’d begun and then forgot about. It was also frustrating for the wider family. We would ask him to do something like take out the recycling. If he were doing anything else, he would have to stop it and do what we asked right then or risk forgetting what you’d asked. Forget about asking him to do two tasks that take any amount of time and having the second one happen. This was frustrating for all.
So, this semester we’ve instituted the white board. I can wander by any time before 6 in the evening and write down something I would like him to complete before going to bed. In the morning, we discuss his goals for class work that day and that can’t be changed. He must complete anything on his whiteboard before going to bed.
Last night it was getting late and he had two things left on his list.
- Unicycle practice
- Read chapter 5 in Psychology
Here is his solution.