Now I Get What It’s Like to Have Executive Functioning Issues

For nearly 20 years, learning and thinking differences have been the focus of my professional and personal life. As a teacher and an early intervention specialist, I felt fairly prepared to be a parent of children with learning and thinking differences.

And for the most part, I have been prepared. I’m a fierce and organized advocate and feel I’ve been empathetic to the struggles my boys face.

Honestly, because of my background, when I was asked to try Through Your Child’s Eyes, I wasn’t expecting to see anything new.

I was wrong. And it’s been hard to write about it because I feel so humbled.

It only took three-and-a-half minutes of simulated executive functioning issues to bring me to tears of frustration. It still makes me panicky to think about it.

The task seemed simple enough—just move a “basket” and catch falling shapes on the computer screen. Except the directions kept changing and the shapes kept falling, and no matter what I tried they didn’t slow down and I couldn’t do everything at the same time. I failed at the task repeatedly. I felt helpless.

I was completely unprepared for the emotional impact of this experience. Is that how my children feel every day? Those few moments of looking through the lens my children wear all the time made me realize I haven’t really understood their struggles as well as I thought.

I wasn’t sure what to do with that realization. Should I feel bad about not getting it before? Or should I feel grateful that I get it now? The funny thing about parenting is that when you find yourself asking contradictory questions like that, more often than not, there isn’t one right answer.

I do feel bad that I didn’t get it before. I also feel grateful that I understand a little more now.

Looking through my children’s eyes was a hard thing to do, but I’m so glad I did it. I think it will help me get past feeling guilty for my boys’ issues. And believe it or not, I’m going to try the simulation again. After all, there’s so much more I need to understand.

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