It took Namine almost an hour to complete a single handwriting worksheet. Our first thought is that it’s just Namine being obstinate, but it might belie a larger issue, one that has been brought up before. The problem is, no one can tell us if it’s merely stubbornness or something more.

Some time ago, Namine was diagnosed by a child behavior analyst. She was determined to have low to medium intelligence, limited intelligibility, and a processing delay. Jessica and I read the report, and aside from the large medical terms, you would have thought it was written by a fifth-grader. The grammar was atrocious, and in some places indecipherable. But the point was still clear: as an expert, the analyst concluded that Namine was not very smart, and needed more time to process problems in order to solve them.

Being aware that nearly every parent suffers from “My Child Is Perfect Syndrome,” I don’t think I falsely justify my belief in Namine’s intelligence. Given her delays in education — with so much time spent in the hospital — I know that she is behind her peers in terms of what she knows, but learned knowledge is not the same as raw intelligence. I do know that she does not like new things, preferring instead the comfort of routine. After five and a half years of hospitalization, most of which has been of the sudden, rushing-to-the-hospital-in-a-panic variety, I can’t say I blame her at all.

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When presented with a new problem, Namine often insists that she can’t do it, and will not try. Sometimes simply asking her to try will persuade her; sometimes she requires more coaxing. This is not limited to cognitive problems; this is often the case in physical therapy, as well. It’s only through repeated attempts and successes that she’s gained enough self-assurance to try new things, like bending down to pick things up.

One of Namine’s physical therapists has also voiced the opinion that she has a cognitive delay. Namine may simply require more time to process a problem, like writing letters that she is not familiar with. But her therapist said it may also be that Namine is simply stubborn and doesn’t want to do something unfamiliar to her. There’s really no way to tell.

A contributing factor in Namine’s difficulty with her handwriting worksheets could also be the fact that she’s starting with her school curriculum in the Spring. Namine is jumping into the middle, instead of starting off at the beginning of the school year. So she’s jumped into writing sentences, and skipped much of the individual letter practice that she would have had, had she started in Fall.

Jessica and I decided to try giving her a week with the current Spring handwriting assignments, and we’ll see how it goes. If she’s still having trouble, then we’ll probably request the Fall curriculum from RVA and start there.

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