Sunday, August 30, 2009

Memory Problems

It has become more and more apparent to us that Marielle has short term memory problems....or maybe I'm just more aware of them or maybe she's not trying to hide it any more.

Prior to her neuropsych testing, she would try to hide it. In one blaring case, she and her brother had gone to Sunday School. They get a dollar each to buy a snack at the break. School is 2 hours and after an hour they break, have a snack and then resume.

When they got home, I asked Rico what he had for break and he said, "Oreos". When I asked Marielle she said she had Oreos, too. Rico said, "No you didn't you had goldfish". It was her response that gave her away. A normal kid would have said something like, "Oh yeah, I forgot, I had goldfish". Marielle said to Rico, which I overheard, "I can't remember what I had, so I'm going to say Oreos and you are going to back me up".

Talk about being hit over the head with a hammer. This response told me that not only did she not remember, but that she had been having a problem with memory for a while and had developed "survivor skills" to cover up the fact that she couldn't remember things.

Prior to this, her teacher had mentioned a number of times to me that she thought Marielle should be sent for testing, that at times she seemed like she "wasn't really there", her mind wandering. Well, after that, we set up testing with the school and the an independent neuropsychologist.

I told her that we knew she was having memory problems, that it was ok, that sometimes the medicine that kids get to get rid of the leukemia can cause problems and that they (the psychologists) were just going to have her do some worksheets and ask her some questions, so they could help her learn better and help her learn how to improve her memory.

On Tuesday (the day after the first day of school, not wanting to overwhelm her teacher on the first day), in Marielle's backpack, I sent a letter to her new teacher and copies of both reports. They were in a big manila folder and I ask Marielle to give them to her teacher. In addition, I mentioned to the teacher, while Marielle was in line, that Marielle had something for her and would she be sure to take it out of the back pack. I also included a copy of the book Educating the Child with Cancer with a note that I'd like the teacher to read the part about Late Cognitive Effects. Actually, I had reminded Marielle about them a couple of times and told her each time that they were for her teacher and when she turned in her folder, she should turn them in, too.

Well, Marielle comes home and here is the manila folder and the book. She had walked home and it made her backpack quite heavy to trudge home. I asked Marielle why she still had them...why didn't she give them to the teacher and she burst into tears and said, "I didn't know what to do with them, Mama, I didn't know what to do!"

I guess the good thing is that she is being more open and honest with me that she doesn't remember instructions. On the downside, it's very hard, as a mom, to witness this.

We have a meeting in the upcoming week to discuss 504/IEP plans with the school. Wish us luck.

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