• 4/12/2011 11:02:58 PMCrazy AnswersMichael likes to give crazy answers on his homework.  The origins of the actual answer given is an interesting study in itself.  Sometimes the answer is a composite of other random words that appear on the page, sometimes it is a duplicated answer from another question, sometimes it is a single word such as "Bright" or "Yes".  In today's episode, Michael was supposed to study for a science (human biology) test that he will be taking soon.  He had some vocabulary words to define and then some other words where he had to tell what function each word performed for the human body.

    He had words and answers like:
    - Inhale = "brith in"
    - Exhale = "brith out"
    - Carbon Dioxide = "turn sugar into nerg"  (he means energy.  Get it?  "N" + "ER" + "G")
    - Nose = "worms with wet air in and out"
    - Plasma = "nitrogen  gos in blood to lungs"

    There was just a lot of crazy answers.  At one point, he asked me if he could use the dictionary because he couldn't find the word "Plasma" in his school book.  Get this – his current chapter is about blood and the respiratory system.  All of his vocabulary words are derived from the current chapter and he couldn't find the word "plasma".  "It's not in yellow", he exclaimed.  "All the words are in yellow".  Apparently, the book identifies key words for the chapter in either bold print and/or yellow highlight.  "Sure", I said.  "Go and use the dictionary".

    Michael goes to get the dictionary and comes back a few minutes later.  "It's not in the dictionary either!".  He is upset now.  "How did you spell the word?", I ask.  "Palsma", he responds.  Keep in mind that Michael has the correct spelling of the word on his Study Guide – the worksheet that he is currently looking at and trying to write the answers down on..

    "Bring me your book and the dictionary", I tell him.  I check the dictionary and the word is right where Noah Webster left it.  I check his book and look at the page that talks about blood.  Sure enough, the word is there along with its definition.  It wasn't in bold print or yellow highlight, but it is there – right in the middle of the page.  I give both books back to Michael and tell him to keep looking.  He continues to look but can't find it.  That is when he writes down his "nitrogen gos in blood to lungs" definition.

    I ask him to show me where he got that answer.  With a very cocky look on his face, he stares me in the eye and with his right hand he points down hard on the center of some page that happens to have the word "plasma" on it.  I think the sentence he was referring to was, "Red blood cells float in plasma and carry oxygen and nitrogen to the body".

    Then I ask the same stupid question, "show me where you got your definition from."  Again, he points down hard to the page with a cocky hand motion.  I tell him to look at the page and show me.  Michael now looks bewildered as if the answer was just there a moment ago but now seems to have disappeared and been replaced by "other words".  He looks up at me confused as if to say, "I don't get it".  This is part of Michael's "dumb" act.  He does this when he has been caught cheating, taking a short cut, or in this case - just making up answers.  

    Then I go into the explanation of what a definition is.  Does he know what a word definition is or is this just part of the continuation of his acting "dumb"?  At this point, I don't know and I don't care.  "Your answer is wrong.  It doesn't tell me anything about what Plasma is", I tell him.

    Now he is angry.  He crosses his arms, scrunches his eyebrows together, purses his lips, and with a huff begins to make an angry face as if I am being unreasonable and have asked him to do the impossible.  As he sees it (or claims to see it), I have asked him to produce the correct answer out of thin air.  This of course is part of the act.  In other similar situations, he has stomped his foot, begun to cry, and rant.  He can actually get himself very worked up.  If you didn't know him or know the situation, you might think that he was just confronted with some devastating and life altering bad news such as, "You have an incurable form of cancer and there is nothing you can do about it."  

    Michael goes back to frantically flipping pages in his book claiming that the answer is not there.  Clearly this is a mistake by either the book printer or his teacher.  Then Michael pipes up with another one of his defense excuse mechanisms.  "We did most of this page while we were in class today", he says.  The implications of this statement is that, whatever he had written on his paper was approved by his teacher since she gave the answers to the class.  If his answers are "wrong", then the teacher should be held responsible for giving out "wrong answers".  After all, it is not Michael's fault for simply obeying the teacher and writing down what she said.  Furthermore, it is not only unlikely but impossible for Michael to have written down something different than what the teacher said.

    It is always fun to confront Michael with his own answers.  He hates it when I read back to him, the answers he wrote down.  They are usually incomprehensible.  If I'm in a good mood and I recognize a word he is trying to spell, I will say the word correctly.  I usually never put additional words in when they are clearly missing.  Michael's standard line of defense for this is to claim, "You are just trying to beat me down".  

    I often wonder where such a comment comes from.  Did he think of that one on his own or did someone else tell that to him?  Over the course of the last three years, we have encountered numerous people where we have explained some of the details and complications of dealing with Michael.  In some cases, we will get a response from other people as if we had not even spoken.  I mean it is as if our words did not even register with the other person.  In another example, while speaking with one of someone about his behavior, they responded, "I have found that when you treat a child like a criminal, they act like one".   Such a comment can only come from someone who is totally ignorant when it comes to dealing with kids with attachment disorder.  For that matter – when it comes to dealing with anyone with mental disorder.  The implication here is that Michael's behavior is our fault.  In another example, I was explaining to someone else some of Michael's behavior towards his school work when we are at home.  The response I got was, "Michael's behavior at home is really none of my business".  I'm still at a loss to explain where the comment of "You are just trying to beat me down" comes from.  I'm not sure, but this much I know, raising a kid with Reactive Attachment will make you feel like you're on your own.

    Again – all of this blame shifting/stupid acting is nothing more than a stall/blame tactic and Michael uses them constantly.  I take his head in my hands and direct his face to the center of the page that contains the answer.  As soon as I let go, he moves his head to the opposite page and then acts like he cannot find the answer on the page I directed him to.  I take his head once again and redirect it back to the left page where I had originally pointed him to.  Michael moves his head to the far left margin and acts like he cannot find the answer in the margin notes.  Then after a minute, he raises his head with a smirk as if he is a "bone head" for not seeing the answer that was right in front of him the entire time.

    I leave Michael to write down the short definition of Plasma from the book and finish the rest of his words.  He proceeds to mis-copy the definition by spelling words incorrectly.  Then he makes up more garbage answers for the remaining words.