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December 15th, 2013

prehistory of the moof, part II @ 09:42 am

I'm not intentionally being parsimonious with these postings, so much as trying to figure out "What's notably different from my childhood from most other people's?" Its corollary, "How do I and my perceptions and reactions differ from most other people's?" is in many ways the fundamental issue I've been grappling with for most of my adult life - but I'll save that sort of thing for "history of the protomoof" and later.

From a structural point of view, my childhood seemed and was pretty normal. I had (and have) two parents, a little brother (2.5 years younger), a little sister (8 years younger). I grew up in a pretty well-to-do Chicago suburb, although my parents weren't all that well-to-do; Mom didn't work until I was in high school, and Dad's ChemEng job was never especially lucrative. The schools, however, were pretty well equipped: my elementary school had an Apple II circa 1979, and a librarian who was very much keeping abreast of technology, noticed that I was rather keen on it, and guided me with resources and support. (I remember around 3rd or 4th grade thinking that I needed to learn 6502 assembly language, and when I asked the librarian she helped me get the books I needed.) So, from that point of view, things were pretty good.

Academically, however, things started to gang agly around late 3rd-early 4th grade. Homework started to be assigned, and I really wasn't very good at doing it. (Formerly, I'd only had issues with creative writing and things of that ilk: I wanted to spout fully-formed stories with plot and structure, but my efforts were what I deemed crap and nowhere good enough and not-quite-literally banged my head against the desk in frustration.) It was somewhere in that era that the school district gave me a battery of tests - Rorschach, what was probably the Thematic Apperception Test, an IQ test. I don't remember much about the tests themselves other than the presumed-TAT involved telling stories about the images on the cards and one of them was about abandonment, the Rorschach test had roman numerals written in pencil on the other side of the card, and that I spent way too long on the math portion of the IQ test trying to puzzle out what the correct answer to "if a=2, and ab=6, what is b" (I'd remembered half-watching some educational programs on algebra on PBS, and eventually decided that since I'd seen the expression "a+b" and "a+2b", the most likely explanation for needing at least that amount of symbols would be that ab must mean a×b. This was a far more interesting problem than most of the rest of the questions on the test, and I failed to answer a bunch of the easy stuff that was later on.)

So, yeah, the results indicated I was a child genius. Whoopee. They decided that I could skip fifth grade and go directly to sixth. In retrospect, while from a purely intellectual and didactic PoV this was fine and dandy... fifth grade was when they started to introduce homework "for real", and my reaction and adjustment to it was not graceful at all. My grades went from As across the board to Cs and Ds and Fs. While I recognize now that ADD (much less Asperger's) was not in the consciousness of many in the 70s, I'm still pissed that they, the school professionals, didn't notice anything amiss and just sort of threw up their hands when I started bombing abysmally. They certainly didn't sit me down and ask what kinds of issues I thought I had or why. The general attitude seemed to be "Eh, he's smart and will figure it out eventually."

Next time on prehistory of the moof: either high school or deaaaaaaaaath; haven't decided which one yet.
 
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From:randomdreams
Date:December 15th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
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Is having kids skip grades still a thing? I know the idea didn't even exist when my grandmother and great-grandmother went to school, and it doesn't seem like they do it very much now because of exactly what you're talking about.
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From:moof
Date:December 15th, 2013 09:50 pm (UTC)
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I have no idea if they do it these days or not; I can ask my sister, who's a Jr High librarian. I suspect in ye olden dayes, they would have just directly placed me with older students or sent me off to one of the lab schools or something.

I'd point out, though, that the biggest thing they'd worried about - social acclimatization - wasn't really an issue since I was sort of diffident with other kids anyhow and couldn't relate to them very well regardless (Hellooooo, Asperger's.) If they hadn't had me skip, I think the net effect would have either been negligible or more misery on my part; it would have been a slower descent into academic misery rather than all-at-once. At no time did any of my teachers ever peg me for being a dullard, but none of them gave the faintest indication they knew what ADD was, either.

In talking about things with my mom and/or sister, we've mooted the notion that ideally, I'd have been born the youngest of the kids, thus giving science and psychiatry an eight year lead.
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From:aceofkittens
Date:January 5th, 2014 03:46 am (UTC)
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Looking forward to the next update!

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