As many of you are aware of, Elliott was forced to start a new school this year, at the last minute. While I’m very upset over the circumstances of what happened, I truly believe Elliott is far better off where he is now. That said, the transition hasn’t been as smooth as we would have liked. While he’s not having major problems, he is struggling to adjust to the changes. I spoke with his teacher today (who is amazing by the way) about a few concerns I had.
She was actually Gavin’s teacher for the first few years he was at Summit Academy. We couldn’t have asked for a better teacher for Elliott. Mrs. C is very familiar with our family and much of the dynamic. It’s very interesting to hear her perspective on what’s going on with Elliott. She has been seeing many signs of ADHD (my family’s new 4 letter word) in Elliott. He’s having a hard time sitting still and walking safely ect…. Basically, he’s just very fidgety and had lots of energy.
She also noted that most of his behavior is identical to Gavin’s when he first started there. This coincides with what I have been seeing at home as well. You may recall that I have written about the topic of mimicked behavior or modelingon many occasions. Basically, mimicking or modeling of behavior is when, for example, one child copies another child’s behavior. In our case, Elliott copies and models Gavin’s behaviors. This makes it very difficult to know what behavior comes naturally to Elliott and what is copied from Gavin. This has been an ongoing concern for many years now, especially as Gavin’s behaviors became more and more inappropriate.
Like most younger brothers, Elliott thinks Gavin walks on water. In many ways, Gavin has more influence over Elliott than I do. It’s like a form of hero worship and it’s very difficult to counter that influence. I want to make very clear that Gavin is not a bad kid, by any stretch of the terms. The problem is that Gavin has quite a few challenges that often influence his behavior in a negative way. It’s not his fault but the impact is the same regardless.
I have noticed that Elliott’s obsessions are the same as Gavin’s obsessions. Gavin has introduced Elliott to his imaginary worlds which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. However, Gavin’s imaginary worlds are much different than most. Gavin suffers from schizoaffective disorder, in which he basically, sees and hears things that aren’t really there. This creates a situation where Gavin struggles with whats reality and what’s imaginary. Does that make sense?
When Gavin isn’t properly medicated, he will literally, fully interact with things that only he can see. This becomes a problem (aside from the obvious) because Gavin believes so completely these things are real and as a result, he tries to and is often very successful in convincing Elliott that they are real as well. As you can image this is very confusing for Elliott. On one hand Elliott doesn’t see what Gavin does but on the other hand, he believes everything that comes out of Gavin’s mouth.
I guess I kinda went off on a tangent, but the point is that it’s very difficult to tell the difference between mimicked or modeled behavior and behavior that his inherently Elliott’s.
Elliott has his quirks and it’s pretty obvious when those come into play but much of the other behavior is a mystery at this point. Even the ADHD-like behavior could simply be anxiety and nothing more. Elliott is quite prone to anxiety, very sensitive to stress and easily overwhelmed.
Even the professionals have a difficult time distinguishing the difference between these behaviors. I suppose time will tell. Luckily, we have a solid educational and support staff to help us sort this out. The current school of thought is that, as Elliott builds relationships with his new friends, Gavin will have less and less influence over his behaviors…
Hopefully, we will work through this is sort order and get Elliott back on track.