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Bobby's creativity shines through despite his mental illness

On days when the manic-depressive demons have been slain, Bobby makes tiny action figures from wire pipe cleaners and medicine bottle caps -- anything he can grab from the family's recycle bin.

His homemade action brigade fills a bookcase.

"When he's just himself, he's building something," his mother says. "He's a fun kid. He's very inquisitive. He's very smart. He's very creative."

Bobby understands he has bipolar disorder, she says. He knows his mind works differently, sometimes in good ways and sometimes in bad ways.

His parents try to keep him focused on the positives -- the creativity-inspired moments. But this past year, there have been a lot of bad days, when bipolar disorder made him too ill to build action figures or go to school.

His parents decided this fall to home-school him.

It has helped. School exhausted him, especially early-morning classes. Like many children with bipolar disorder, his energy is at its lowest point in the morning, peaking in the afternoon and evenings.

Now, his school day can start later. And, he can read and do other work from bed on days when it's impossible for him to get up and get dressed.

He gets annoyed with Mom as teacher. "He doesn't like it when I'm having him do long division," she says.

But he is loving. At 91/2, he still crawls into her lap to snuggle.

Bobby's had a hard childhood, but it's made him perceptive and observant, his mother says.

"He'll go out in the world and do great things," she says. "He certainly has the mind for doing wonderful things."

-- By Barbara Anderson,

The Fresno Bee

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