I had every intention of writing an update to my February post about Tiny’s Sensory Processing Disorder in February 2017 – so it would be a full year. But after last week, I thought I’d like to try to dwell on some good. So here we are.
At end of the year, it became clear that while we and Tiny’s occupational therapist could see the growth, his teacher was having a harder time. We worried – was he ready for kindergarten and this was just a personality conflict, or was he really struggling?
We may never really know the answer. I know that his OT felt he was more than ready for kindergarten – in fact, she said some of his behavior issues might stem from being bored. He never was one for repeating a task he already knew how to do. He was doing well in his beginners church choir and in Sunday School there.
We decided to start winnowing things that could be exacerbating things over the summer. After a fourth ear infection in six months, we saw an ENT, who found that one ear was not draining and his hearing was compromised. So the end of June brought an adenoidectomy and tubes.
In July, we saw a neuropsychologist who wrote a report so thorough that Tiny’s school (and anyone in the school district who sees it) is still raving about it. We had a series of meetings to talk about accommodations he would need, and everyone was on the same page.
Guys, it’s been miraculous. He does still occasionally get in trouble, but it’s minor stuff. His teacher gets him. His principal gets him. Pretty much everyone in the school knows him, and they talk about how he is happy (and he is, seriously, one of the happiest people I know).
We enrolled him in a Spanish immersion kindergarten class. He had shown an interest and aptitude for the language, and we thought that if he had to learn everything he already knew in a completely different language, perhaps the behavior issues would lessen.
I’ve talked with his teacher and principal regularly. And both, without being asked, have told me about his progress. He is in a class where only about four other kids speak English. The class is conducted mostly in Spanish, with only math and what they call “specials” – music, art, gym, etc. – in English.
At first, he would hold his hands over his ears and say, “BUT I SPEAK ENGLISH.” But his patient saint of a teacher would reassure him that everyone was here to help him. His new friends in class would jump at the chance to help.
Now, I get excited reports from teachers and his principal about how they saw him conversing in Spanish with his classmates. He sounds words out phonetically – using Spanish letter and vowel sounds. He sings in English and Spanish. He writes and reads in English and Spanish.
His teacher told me that he picks up concepts quickly. That he will raise his hand and ask her how to say words in Spanish if he doesn’t know. This is the kid that would just hide in the bean bag chairs last year when he was frustrated or confused. Now, he asks for help.
And he’s so happy. He’s in an environment where he’s not made to feel like he’s a problem, but is a valued part of the class. His teacher – and his school – has tapped into his very large appetite for knowledge, and have kept him engaged.
I know several people have found this blog because they’re having their own journey with a child that has SPD. You may be wondering if things will ever get better. I will tell you this: I had dozens of people tell me that we would never find what Tiny needs in public school. We would need to look into private schooling. I had one professional behave as if we were being negligent and insisted that we would indeed be putting him in private school before the year was out.
Needless to say, we do not work with her.
If the professionals you encounter are not helpful, you have every right to jettison them. If the school cannot give your child what he or she needs, yes – find one that will. Not just for the academics, but also for the self-esteem.
And don’t count anything out. While I wasn’t opposed to sending Tiny to a private school if it was needed, I was irritated by the fact that she made assumptions based on old experiences. I had already met with the principal of this school. I had already met Tiny’s teacher. I had done my homework.
So I would also say trust your gut. Because see this? This is Tiny’s latest report card. See that grade for conduct? An “S” is the highest mark you can get for conduct. I mean, yeah, all those other grades are really great, too, but for Tiny, that S in conduct is a testament that he’s figured out (for the most part) when to use his jet engine.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed (and Lord knows I was this time last year), hold on to this little nugget of hope. It’s amazing, and while I know our journey is still ongoing, it’s the little wayfinding sign that tells me we’re on the right track. You’ll find yours, too.