I had 5 kids to work with. The first 3 were fairly proficient and we flew through the tests. I realized that first graders can do simple addition, and subtraction. They can tell time on a clock. They can do basic word problems if you help them with the reading. But then came my 4th student.
For the sake of privacy we'll call her Emily. She skipped happily out to the desk, sat down and instantly noticed her snowman art on the wall.
That's mine there! she said proudly.
I look up to see the same round three balls in all the other pictures, but her's were adorned just a bit differently. This snowman had a big lipstick red mouth, with Pippy Longstocking-like hair sticking out from it's head. The background was a massive swirl of differing colors. It was certainly "unique."
As she settled in her chair, her eyes gazing up at her picture, she says dreamily...
That's my picture, but that isn't my real name. Emily is only my fake name. My real name is Roxie Hart!"
Let me tell you, Roxie, was a trip, in more ways than one. The lines were quite blurred at times between her reality and mine. She had an uncanny ability to "catch" herself wandering off mentally and she'd admonish to herself in a stern voice "Oh there you go getting carried away again."
Our time was cut short by the start of lunch. But it hadn't taken me long to learn a lot about her, and none of it had to do with Math. What I can tell you is that Emily draws dots on her paper when she is mad. She can keep up a fairly vigorous conversation with just herself. And when she gets carried away, her snowman end up with Pippy Longstocking hair and garish red lips. She has her own unique way of being in this world, but I learned the most important thing was not to get in the way of Miss Roxie Hart.
I can't draw any conclusions about Emily. I have no records on her and I've had no conversations about her with her teacher or anyone else. But my psych instincts kicked into overdrive. And what she did do, was serve as a reminder of how much I miss working in psych some days.