I frantically searched for a new school to place my child in. I found a Montessori school with a huge outdoor space and a low child to student ratio. It looked like it could be a nice place so I decided we would give it a try. I thought 17 students for 1 teacher was way too many so I specifically sought out a place with a lower student to teacher ratio.
I knew my son struggled with transitions so I warned the teachers and school personnel about it. To say adjusting to the new school was a struggle is an understatement. His first day was rough, but he survived. . . barely. I got called on Tuesday to come get him because he had hit another child. When I came to get him I was swarmed by the entire staff. We talked about my son and his history. I talked about how he was a head banger when he was little and how after a certain teacher had left his previous school he started to fall apart. He struggled with transitions, and on and on.
They gave me some advice and I left feeling a little bit better. I had known the first week was going to be a rough one.
It didn’t get any better. The next day he continued to struggle. He hit the teacher, he ran outside and then lost his outside privileges, he hid in the reading corner and tried to hide behind the bookshelf, he cursed. They separated him from the other kids to calm down and he ate lunch with their behavioral specialist. This behavior continued through the week. He was not adjusting at all.
Then it came again… on the following Monday, this school told me that my child was too disruptive and that they thought I should look somewhere else. They told me my child’s behavior was defiant and the fact that he couldn’t look the adults in the eye when they were trying to talk to him was atypical behavior. They made me feel like a shitty parent with a deviant child who had behavioral issues. I knew my child had some issues, but I didn’t believe they were behavioral. As I slowly pulled pieces together from his experiences in school together, I began to believe my sons’ issues were sensory related. I felt he became easily overwhelmed by all the transitions and switching of teachers and activities. I felt like he went easily into sensory overload.
In the week he had been at the school I had tried to make him a flip book of the different transitions to try to help him and I was surprised at how many there were. Start off in the main room with all the children, move to the classroom, circle time, snack time, outside time, lunch time, nap time in a different room, snack time again, circle time again, move into the main room for pick up. That is an awful lot of transitions for a child that doesn’t do well with transitions. And honestly, I was just figuring out exactly what that phrase “struggles with transitions” meant. Actually seeing how many transitions our children make at school kind of floored me, I could only imagine how all the transitions made my child feel.
I called my therapist friend. We talked, she reassured me that most of his behavior was normal child behavior. I recalled a conversation we had had previously about eye contact. and how we had talked about how some children don’t look at adults in the eyes because it can feel very threatening, but it’s not atypical behavior, she remembered and agreed. Together we ruled out a diagnosis of Autism, even though using some techniques that work well with autistic children all worked well for him. She agreed he probably fell into the category of Highly Sensitive Children and we talked about sensory overload. . . We decided a lot of his behaviors could be classified as normal, but you could definitely tell there were some issues there somewhere. She didn’t feel like it was behavioral related, we kept coming back to sensory…I felt less like a shitty parent after our conversation, but my stress level was through the roof. What was I going to do with my son? I couldn’t quit my job because we need the income.
This was the second stumble of a step on a very long, very hard and tearful journey towards helping my child.
To be continued. . .
Second Post in SPD Series
Read The First Post Here: The Day My World Came Crashing Down