For the past two years, homework was the time of the day I truly dreaded. I knew how smart Byron was but it wasn't appearing in his school work and even less in our homework sessions. He could not follow a problem that had more than two steps and word problems were impossible.
For example, trying to explain the steps of long division, with it's multiplication, subtraction and precise number placement was almost impossible. Just when I'd think he got it, he would completely forget the logic by the next problem. And he could not keep focused on the task for more than a few seconds. The whole exercise, repeated daily with different sorts of math and reading, were incredibly stressful and very sad for me. And likely worse for Byron. But Byron was always adamant about completing his homework so we slogged through it. Often at the end of a session, I was exhausted.
You might ask why I cared - long division who cares! These kids will just use computers or ask their Google Home! But his lack of ability to follow sequential steps was a clear indication of how the seizures where effecting his brain. I thought that if I kept at it, if he kept at it, some how it would ultimately be good for his brain.
Fast forward to today. Today was Byron's first day back to school after the surgery. When I picked him up he was smiling, happy and at ease. This was a HUGE change! Before the surgery, when I picked him up he was surly and difficult. Today he was smily and friendly.
And then we had our homework session. It was two pages of long division. It has been at least two months since we worked on long division and I readied myself to have to teach it again. But Lo! Byron remembered the rules. And he approached his homework with ease and focus. He made the small mistakes that any child would with such a complex task, and his handwriting is still miserable, but it was like I was working with a different child. We got through all the problems without frustration and he remembered the logic and the steps. And, he could do things in his head that he could not before. For example when we were working on how many times 52 goes into 367, I taught him how to estimate. I asked him, "How many 50s there are in 100?" He said 2.
"Ok then how many 50s are there in 300." He said 6 - right away! So then I asked "How many 50s are there in 350?" He said with great enthusiasm. "6 and a half! " I laughed and understood how his mind came to that logic but we NEVER could have gotten that far before. It was brilliant and exciting and I was exhilarated.
I am in awe of how this surgery which took half his brain, has made him whole again. Byron seems to now have access to his heart and mind in ways that were not possible during the last two years.
And we all couldn't be more pleased! 💖
Byron Pratt, age 11, has Cerebral Palsy (Right Hemiplegia) caused by a stroke before birth. In 2015 he developed seizures and a rare form of Epilepsy called ESES, neither of which responded to treatment with medications. On November 3, 2017 he had a Functional Hemispherectomy. He has had many other major procedures in his short life including surgery for exotropia in both eyes, tonsils and adenoids removal, Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), Constraint Therapy, and heel cord lengthening. The recent posts are about the Hemispherectomy and what follows. Older posts about other procedures can be found earlier in the blog or by links in the sidebar.