Trying to Move Forward and Getting No Traction

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. . .

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Second Post in SPD Series
Read The First Post Here:  The Day My World Came Crashing Down

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The Day My World Came Crashing Down

As I sat in your office crying after you told me my son could no longer attend your school you had the gall to ask me “How are you feeling?”  It still bothers me to this day that you asked me this question.  Of all the things you could say, what possessed you to ask me “How are you feeling?” The question made me feel like I was in therapy.  I almost blurted out “What kind of fucking question is that?  How do you think I’m fucking feeling?” but instead I let the rage spiral around inside me and between the sobs and the tears I managed to say “Devastated”.

After I got that one word out I was able to continue some.  “Is there any way he could stay?” I asked because the maternal instinct said I should fight for my child even though somewhere in the dark corners of my heart I knew that he hadn’t liked it there in a long while.  She said No.  She said that they had tried to work with him, but that other parents had also raised concerns about my child.

WTF?  As if I wasn’t already angry “Why am I just now hearing that other parents are concerned about my child? Isn’t that something that I should have been told?” I asked and then I continued “I feel like I wasn’t communicated with honestly about my son’s behavior in school.  I feel like the teachers focused on the positive things instead of the negative so I wasn’t getting an accurate picture of what was going on. I feel like only one teacher (who wasn’t even his teacher but was with him here and there) actually had been telling me the truth about him.”

She agreed that the communication could have been better not that it made a difference at this point in time.  I had asked the teachers and the director on numerous occasions what they thought was going on, why my child seemed unhappy at their school.  The best I got was they thought he was just a very sensitive child and that when you tell him “No” it just cuts straight through to his little soul and brings him pain. I didn’t quite buy the explanation and felt there was more to the problem.

The director then told me a story about the only other child they had kicked out of their facility and how he had moved passed his early childhood issues especially when he became involved in sports.

She meant to tell the story to make me feel better.

It didn’t.

I was still devastated and I was still pissed off.

“Happy Early Fucking Birthday to me,” I thought.  My 3.5-year-old was kicked out of school for pushing and kicking another child because you know, kids don’t do things like that.. .

Months later it still bothers me that she asked me that question, but I no longer bear a grudge towards the school or the staff.  This was the first stumble of a step on a very long, very hard and tearful journey towards helping my child.

To be continued. . .