• 9/20/2011 8:49:18 PMSwitched-on School HouseWe have decided to keep Michael home for school this year rather than put him into the local public school and spend a lot of time trying to educate the teachers there on RAD and deprogram Michael when he comes home every day filled with things that shouldn't be in his head.

    Since we have home schooled all of the other children, we have acquired a great deal of material over the years.  Since Michael is a different kind of learner (this is secret code for a student that will dominate every waking moment of every day) we decided to lean a little more on some computer based curriculum.

    Near the end of last year, after warning the school facility about keeping an eye on him, Michael was busted for surfing for porn on the library computer.  Thankfully they have software that monitors such things and he was quickly found out.  This incident occurred over the course of two days and an explanation of Michael's behavioral changes during that time is worthy of its own story.

    Anyway, one program that Michael does is Brainware Safari which does require internet access.  I have firewall software on the computer that blocks all internet traffic except for that program and it's back-end website.  No surfing is permitted.  No other programs can get out.  Brainware Safari is good for him because it has been designed in such a way as to prevent cheating.  Michael hates this program.

    Another program we use is called Switched-on School house.  We purchased the entire Grade 6 curriculum.  Michael hates this program as well but for different reasons.  I think the primary source of his angst comes from the fact that he doesn't get the interactive response from the computer like he would from trying to manipulate a person.  No matter how many times Michael answers the wrong information into the computer, it always comes back with a message indicating that he is wrong and it will not allow him to continue until he has completed everything.  Additionally, it tracks everything he does and makes a real nice report at the end for Mom to look at.

    One more program that we use is called Spell-it Deluxe.  This program was originally created by a company called "Davidson" but I don't think it is available new from the company anymore - although you can still get it from Amazon and other websites.  Last year at the public school, another source of Michael's emotional pain was spelling.  He played games continuously both with his spelling list and how he performed on the test.

    Michael would lie about which words were on his list, if there was going to be a test this week, if there was going to be a pretest this week and most frequently - what his teacher actually said about the list of words.  All of this came to a head when he would intentionally misspell words so that we would not be correct when we told him that, if he worked hard he could get 100% on his test.  Did you catch that?  Maybe you think that sentence was malformed.  What I meant to say was that Michael wanted to be proven correct - meaning - he could work hard on his spelling words and it would be to no avail because in the end, the words would be so difficult that he could prove that they could not be spelled correctly no matter how much effort was put into studying them.  In other other words, Michael intentionally throws tests because to him, this makes sense and is some kind of a "win".  We want him to do well and he wants us to not get what we want - therefore he fails the test on purpose.

    What is more bizarre is that Michael himself often said that it bothered him that other kids got good grades on their spelling tests and sometimes they would say things to him about being stupid because he only got 8 out of 20 words correct.  The key here is that Michael "COULD SPELL" the words correctly if he made up his mind to do so, but he is in such conflict over his own twisted perceptions of winning and losing, and doing what he wants over doing what other people want - that he cannot think clearly and logically about doing what is best for him.  Michael is the kid who would happily drink poison if he thought it would prevent you from "winning".

    This is where the computer comes in handy.  It doesn't play such games and it is very upfront about it.  I have often told Michael that his "short cuts" are really "long cuts".  Every time he cheats, skips school work, or tries to manipulate the assignment because he "just wants to be done", it ALWAYS turns out to take longer because he ends up having to re-do the assignment as many times as it takes until it is right.  This is an elusive concept for Michael.  

    In the end, if it were a human teacher - they would ultimately become frustrated with him and give up.  Michael sees this as a "win".  Quite literally, he celebrates the fact that he caused someone to give up on him.  He fails to take the next logical mental step and realize that he just lost an opportunity to move forward and has lost or damaged another relationship.

    Thank God for computers.