Thursday, April 21, 2011

How Much is Too Much?

Regular readers know that my son has an affinity for math and loves anything to do with numbers. His current passion has been to learn all of the elements on the periodic table.

Last night he discovered a video on YouTube that shows the order that each element was discovered. He spent the rest of his evening looking at the video, pausing it every second or so, and writing down the name of each element in the proper order. I’m sure it will be only a matter of days before he has it all memorized.

Yesterday, my wife and I met with the clinical psychologist who has been evaluating our son over the past several weeks. She gave us a preliminary overview of her findings. Not surprisingly, one of his strengths is that he has phenomenal math skills; “off the charts” was how she described it.

That is all well and good, but she also described Kai’s many areas of deficits. These include his abstract reasoning and problem solving skills, social comprehension and awareness, inflexibility, difficulty staying regulated, and high levels of anxiety, among others. And so, we know that he needs a lot of work in many different areas.

The challenge is finding some balance between maintaining his strengths while working on his weaknesses, fostering his special talents while boosting his deficits.

Knowing all of the elements of the periodic table will be of only limited value if he cannot do abstract reasoning. That could be the difference between getting a minimum wage job and becoming a scientist, for instance.

So, do we limit how often he can do things involving numbers? After all, every moment spent on numbers is a moment that he is not developing social awareness. Ideally, we can leverage his passion with numbers to work on the other skills that need work. But how? That is our challenge.

For one more evening, though, it was fun to see him cranking away at his numbers. Did you know that Zirconium was the 25th element discovered, in 1789?


  1. Our son, Alex, went through the same thing as Kai. We hadn't decreased his strengths...we just worked more on his deficits. My wife, and I, are on the same page ideologically where it concerns our son.

    You don't increase the sum through subtraction.

    You have the right idea with what you are doing. We have found great success doing the same as you.

  2. It is good to hear of your experiences as your son seems similar to ours, but you are a few years ahead of us. Thanks for the encouraging words.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...