Lately I've been experiencing what for me is a new kind of frustration with Janey---frustration with her intellectual disability. I can honestly say until this point, I was not bothered by her retardation. I still am not, nearly as much as I am with the autism and the resultant behaviors, but I'm starting to feel that frustration, just a little.
Mainly, it's just not getting how she learns, or how she doesn't learn. A good example is an app she was trying to do on the iPad last night---Jumpstart Preschool. It's a little beyond her, but she's interested in it. There was a matching task---you click on kites or umbrellas or something, which reveal a capital letter, and you need to find two that match, like Concentration. She seemed to somewhat get what it wanted her to do, but she couldn't seem to get that she needed to try new kites if the first two didn't work. She sat there clicking the same two kites for about 15 minutes. I didn't jump in to help---I was trying hard to not do so, to see if she'd get it. I don't think this was a case of stimming with the sounds. I think she really wanted to do the matches, as when I finally jumped in and did one for her, she was delighted. But she didn't or couldn't make the mental jump that would have told her---you need to click around to find the right letters! Today, we were trying a math program her school uses---First in Math. They had kind of a trippy game, where a slot machine looking bar showed something like two blue stars. Floating around below it were all kinds of shapes in different colors. You had to put a blue star with the other two blue stars. Janey did understand this, and a few times, did it perfectly. But other times, she put a shape over the shapes that were already there (which I don't think the program should have let you do) and then, she seemed to be totally thrown off, and kept putting the right shape over the wrong shape in the area where she'd get no credit for it. She would do the same thing about 10 times, without seeming to realize that she had just done it right a little earlier.
Both those cases show the frustrating part. It wasn't that Janey didn't get what the task was asking, I don't think. But she wasn't able to make the mental corrections and steps to get it right. It might have been a matter of motivation, but I don't think so---in both cases, she liked a lot how the program reacted when she got it right.
It struck me watching this that I would never, ever be a good homeschooling teacher for Janey. I've realized this with my boys (although they made it very clear that had no desire to be homeschooled!) I get frustrated far too easily. I don't know how to teach, especially how to teach Janey. There is probably a method that would work better than ones I try, but I don't know what it is. And I just start thinking "How can she not get it?" and I know that's mean. She doesn't get things because her brain is not set up to get them. I don't believe it's all hidden in there someplace. I think her brain has severe functioning problems. She is able to use the parts of her brain that aren't as affected---rote memory, for a big huge one, and music, and gross motor skills and even fine motor skills in terms of technology---it was not that she couldn't manipulate the mouse at all. But she can't learn new patterns easily at all.
I can accept in myself that I get frustrated with the autism. No-one on earth, I don't think, could hear Janey's hourlong screaming spells and not be upset. But the learning delays---I feel like I should have more patience. I feel horrible that I get frustrated with that. I guess it's an area where I should instead feel very grateful to her teachers and therapists, who have the patience in that area I do not. And I do feel that gratefulness, but I wish I had that gift, the gift of teaching.