Part 3 – I’m dumb – the issue of self-esteem

Well, my aim for part 3 was to discuss my sons assessment and diagnosis but I thought I would discuss my son’s low self esteem as I know it can be a problem for many children with or without additional needs.

It was whilst waiting for the assessment (the whole of 2007!) that I had started to notice how my son, then 9 years old, was describing himself as a retard, dumb or other unpleasant words.  I found this really upsetting to hear and no matter how often we told him he wasn’t any of these things or to point out the things he could do well, he continued with this self criticism.  Where did he get such words?  It wasn’t from home, we never used such language, and he didn’t do out-of-school activities so we assumed it was from within the school environment yet when we asked him about school, he could hardly tell us anything about his life there, a life that amounted to 30 hours a week.  That is a lot of life isn’t it so it makes sense that if things are not right at school then it can have an effect on a child’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

And things were not right at school for my son.  His learning difficulties meant he struggled academically and his clumsiness and heavy limbs made sport difficult and then there were the social difficulties which meant he was in a lot of conflict with his peers and the resistance to change which meant he missed most school trips.  Then there was the pattern of behaviour that the school refused to accept – how he let off like a champagne cork at the end of a school day, to such an extent that we regularly had to deal with verbal and physical aggression.  It was obvious to me that his difficulties were not being helped by the attitude of the school; a school who did not acknowledge his issues and insisted that the school was supporting him academically even though he was making little progress.  This is why I went the medical route, not only to seek help for my son but to seek evidence for the school to act on.

Golf

Anyhow, while we were waiting for his assessment, we started to work on his self-esteem by enrolling him in golf lessons, which my son had expressed an interest in.  I was really excited about this; for the first time in his life my 9 year old boy wanted to do something outside school and home.  Up to then, we had never enjoyed all those things most other parents take for granted, you know the sports days, football, school plays, parties.  My son was never part of that scene; he couldn’t coordinate his body for football so was never part of the in-crowd for teams and his social difficulties meant he hardly had any friends or invitations to parties. Golf gave him an opportunity to do something different that didn’t require him to coordinate his legs or to be a team member. It also gave a great opportunity for my husband to do something with my son for I had wondered whether my son’s increasing aggression was perhaps a call for fatherly attention.

So, having told my husband about this idea, he set to and organised some golf lessons at a nearby municipal golf club that ran a Young Masters Golf Programme for 6 to 14 year olds. It went reasonably well.  The programme was a graduated one with each stage requiring to be passed before progressing to the next one.  To pass to the next stage the child or young person had to complete a practical and do a multiple choice type of test. My son finds testing really difficult but his tutor was aware that my son had difficulties and was often lenient with him particularly in the multiple choice test. Consequently my son started to accummulate certificates as he passed various stages which I used to then laminate for him to put up on his magnetic notice board.  It was clear that my son was getting a sense of achievement from this which we all enjoyed seeing.  However, it still did not do much to offset his sense of failure at school and his ‘golfing career’ was to be short-lived.

You may also be interested to read:

Part 4 – Getting a diagnosis
Part 2 – on the road to a diagnosis

Part 1 – school, special educational needs and my son

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6 Responses to Part 3 – I’m dumb – the issue of self-esteem

  1. Aspie in the family says:

    >Fiona – you could also consider pilates which I do once a week (my anti-stress treat) but I do recommend a properly trained teacher. Similar to yoga in that its non-competitive, peaceful and brilliant at destressing. Recommend it for mums (and dads) too!

  2. Fiona says:

    >Hey, you two have given me a great idea! I'm going to go heavy on the head at J's school to get him to implement yoga classes for parents to work on at home with our kids. They've just been asking for new ideas, training, help etc that they could offer to parents. Seems a brilliant idea to me. Thank you so much for the notion!!

  3. Aspie in the family says:

    >Hi bbsmum – sorry to heard its so hard to find a suitable yoga class. I know how hard it is to find a suitable activity; we've gone through quite a few over the last few years.

  4. bbsmum says:

    >The only activity that's worked for BB is yoga (Quiet! Non-competitive! No rules, just 'copy me'!) The only problem is finding a class. He's too old for children's classes and too noisy for adult ones!

  5. Aspie in the family says:

    >Hi Fiona – definitely recommend giving golf a go. I think the golfing profession are looking to expand this sport to a wider range of children hence the Young Masters Golf Programme. Unfortunately for my son, he was unable to stick to it – will talk about that in another posting.

  6. Fiona says:

    >I have a number of friends with children on the spectrum who attend mainstream schools and I know how hard it is for them. I've been spoiled, J by comparison attending a special school and having no concept of his disability is so uncomplicated. Golf is a brilliant idea too! We are introducing it to the 10 year old as he just isn't a team player. Hoping to afford a junior membership for him for his birthday.

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