The day my son started kindergartden I had an eerie feeling that this was going to be a VERY trying year. He had some issues in Pre-K with not wanting to sit still, and wandering off to centers during circle time, but I knew that the beast that was public school, was not going to tolerate such freedom. I was scared for him. I was scared for myself. But I had hope that with some direction, discipline, and love it would all work out. I had NO idea what kind of ride I was in for.
It all started about the second week of school. I sent an email to my son’s teachers to give them a heads up and saying hey, my son doesn’t take to change well and may take longer than the average child to adjust. I relayed the fact that he went from getting an hour of recess a day to fifteen minutes, and that he went from being able to nap an hour a day to no nap at all. I also wanted to open the door of communication; to let the teachers know that me and his father were here for them and would support them in any way we could. I was hoping that email would be enough to set the stage for understanding, but I think I am the one who failed to understand. I don’t think I realized that sometimes teachers are overwhelmed, underpaid, frustrated, and some even repressed. That some teachers just don’t have time or room for understanding.
To shorten the story, my son had LOTS of issues starting out. Telling the teacher no, talking over her during story time, rolling around on the floor, kicking chairs, wrestling with his friends (a little too rough I might add), doing headstands, flips, cartwheels, playing with the water in the bathroom, playing with his food at lunch, and so on and so on. I can only imagine the frustration his teacher must have been feeling. I was devastated and embarrassed. How could the little boy I love so much, cause so much chaos? Something wasn’t right and I knew it. My instinct told me…. something isn’t right. Over the years I have learned NOT to ignore that voice of reason.
I hadn’t heard of SPD before, but I was talking to a friend of mine and told her what was going on with my little man. She asked me if I had ever looked into the possibility of SPD and of course I had no clue what it was. She told me to look it up and really consider having him evaluated. So, I requested an evaluation through the school. Then, it was confirmed. My son, was a definite positive for SPD. Okay. Now what?
The school OT recommended a sensory diet for him in the classroom and at home. Everything got much better and was pretty level over the next four months. Then… it happened. Change. My son’s school had a new building constructed and they moved in the week after spring break. Since then.. it’s been all down hill from there. All reds everyday, calls from the teacher every other day, meltdowns at home, and then that dreaded call from the principal. The one that says you have to come pick up your son because he has been kicked out of school for the rest of the day. He scratched his teacher. She attempted to pick him up during a meltdown and he went into fight or flight mode. Oh boy.
After that call, his father and I scheduled a conference with his teacher and the principal. We all agreed that maybe what he needed was a change up in his sensory diet. Maybe his body had gotten use to the strategies in place and that was the reason for.. you guessed it… REGRESSION (which by the way I never realized was NOT the case until I read http://www.spdbloggernetwork.com/2012/04/26/it-isnt-regression-2/ ). Any who, the principal agreed to get with the OT and come up with some new strategies and she would get back to me.
Unfortunately, a week passed with no new strategy. I did however get another phone call. School: Come and pick up your son within 30 minutes or he is suspended for tomorrow as well. ME: ”What happened?” School: Oh, well, two little boys were agitating him on the playground and he decided he couldn’t take it anymore and hauled off and punched one of them right in the face. Oh boy. See, his teacher doesn’t want the kids tattling on each other, they are to work their problems out on their own. This was the only way my son knew how to solve it being that he tried to walk away and they followed. Not that it’s okay. It’s still unacceptable, but at this point I wasn’t sure 100% how to relay that to him, I wasn’t even sure he would understand it. In his mind, being that he could tell his teacher, and he tried to walk away, he had done all he could. Except for, well, you know.
After that day, I realized that no amount of meetings or emails was going to make anyone understand what was going on with my son. And truthfully, I don’t even think I knew for sure. I didn’t know where to turn. I was hurt, confused, and angry. I felt like they just wanted me to take him home and give him a good spanking, because you know, obviously I wasn’t disciplining him. I didn’t like feeling this way. I didn’t like the pressure of feeling as though I was some bad out-of-touch parent who allows their child to do whatever they please. Where the child is in control. My son cannot even control himself, how could he control us?
I reached out to the OT at the school for some sort of direction. She finally told me what had to be done. A formal evaluation had to be performed by a professional so that my son could receive a 504 and so we could then implement an IEP for him. That was the only way I was going to be able to get some assistance. That was the only way I could at that very moment help my son. Finally, someone who cared about his welfare and education as much as I did. Finally someone that saw my son’s behavior as more than just attention-seeking and knew that there was more to the picture than my son “just wanting an audience”. Finally, someone who saw me for what I was; a good parent with no where to turn.
Today is a new day for us. I have received the call. Sensory Modulation Disorder as a Sensory Seeker is said diagnosis. Recommended treatment? Occupational Therapy. Is there vindication of my feelings, that gut feeling that something more than “acting up” was gong on? Yes. Is there a little sense of calmness to at least know there is somewhere to start now? Yes. See now I can say, no matter what you may think is going on with my son, a professional says different. But the biggest thing of all for me is no matter if they think my son is in need of a good spanking, I no longer have to even consider that maybe, just maybe, they are right. I know they are wrong. My hope has returned.