What I Learned in School Today

Donna Barratt on Tuesday, 30 Jan 2018
I learn new things every day in the middle school where I teach.  Today I found out a student of mine has “conversion syndrome.” First you need to be aware that I teach special needs students in a resource classroom.  My students are learning disabled and behaviorally disordered, which means they deal with emotional and mental illnesses like anxiety disorders, attachment disorders and on and on. So today I have a student I am evaluating  who appeared to have a seizure.  After calling the nurse and the mom, we learned that he was diagnosed last year with “conversion syndrome.”  Apparently there had been a seizure but after much testing at the hospital, a diagnosis of seizure disorder was dismissed and in place of that the new diagnosis was given. Funny thing about that new diagnosis.  It used to be called psychosomatic illness.  Well, I say that, though upon a closer study, there is a slight difference, but very slight and apparently, conversion disorder is not new but the term is not as often used as psychosomatic illness. The cause of both is extreme stress, trauma, or anxiety.  Now that I am aware that this is the student’s diagnosis, I will better be able to help this student be successful.  I will work to prevent stress in the academic realm.  This new information helps me to make sense of a lot of the behaviors I’ve been seeing. And that is what makes my work so interesting.  I work with middle school kids who are amazing, smart, and fun to be with, but need some direction to figure out how to find success in the academic atmosphere.  I learn from them every day about what it means to grow and learn, to face struggles and overcome adversity, and how to have fun along the way. Oh….and I learned something else today(It is October 29th).  Every year I have students who come in so excited they can barely contain themselves, smile and say, “Do you know that tomorrow is Halloween?”  I love it.  I always tell them the same thing.  I say, “Then why did you wear that horrible mask today?”
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