Focus is defined as the ability to concentrate; to focus ones thoughts. Calm is defined as being free from excitement or passion; tranquil. Still is remaining in place or at rest; motionless; stationary. Our son Harry is defined as a ‘sensory seeker’ meaning he needs to manage and calm his nervous system through seeking out sensory stimuli, he also has proprioceptive dysfunction. This means his under responsiveness to sensory stimulus (sensory seeking need) is teamed with overwhelming needs for crashing around, stomping, chewing and general loudness and fidgeting. In society’s eyes Harry is the unruly child due to bad parenting, though let’s face it society is dissolusioned a great deal! So, I guess your wondering why all the definitions? The answer is simple Harry’s school defined him as a ‘model of stillness, calm and focus!’. You can probably imagine our frustrations from this point forth.
This week my husband and I had simply grown exhausted from Harry’s constant meltdowns both before and immediately following school. We decided that we should write to school and ‘get them onboard’. Currently we are waiting for Harry’s OT report and so, we figured until it arrives maybe school would implement some recommendations such as weighted activities, a daily diary (for our purposes) and allowing Harry to bring his sensory ‘tools’ into school. Sadly, Harry’s school met us with opposition – Harry is a ‘model of stillness, calm and focus’! Apparently, ‘we’ are singling Harry out and ‘making’ him different. NO! Harry IS different. Yes! We accept and recognise this fact, it is imperative for Harrys wellbeing that we do. As I’m sure you can imagine I left Harry’s school feeling angry, anxious, distraught and to be perfectly honest a total emotional wreck!
Questions began to stream through my mind – have we got it wrong? Are we making him different? Why is Harry such a model pupil in school and a crazy lunatic at home? Are we going mad? Have we made it all up? No! No! No! This is absurd! If we have ‘made it all up’ why does my gut tell me otherwise? What makes the OT convinced Harry has SPD? No! We are not mad and Harry’s school should be better informed! In fact, they should be ashamed! This self doubt and tooing and throwing haunted me all day at work. Everytime someone asked ‘are you ok’? it took all the strength I had to push back the tears until I was in solitude. But, it was this mind battle that got me really, truly thinking.
Our cry for help from school was because we were trying to establish what was placing Harry into sensory overload before and after school. Although school have failed and downright refused to help us – they have helped! Let me remind you that my son is a ‘sensory seeker’, let me also remind you that Harry is defined as a ‘model of stillness, calm and focus’. Let’s evaluate this scenario – my son who needs to fidget, chew, crash, bang, stomp around and touch everything is – come on everyone – all together now – ‘a model of stillness, calm and focus’ . On top of this his school says he is provided a FULL sensory diet, not a specific, targeted sensory diet! Alas, I wonder who needs to educate who! I mean no wonder my son is breaking down before and after school, he is putting all he has got to conform as perfectly as possible during school.
So, as one would imagine we contacted Harry’s OT who was rather unimpressed and has insisted on a visit in school to discuss the needs of Harry in full detail. We are also due back to meet with the peaditrician and discuss where we go from here. Indeed, after my initial emotional wreckage from being dismissed and ignored I now sit here a ‘model of stillness, calm and focus’ and I send out this message to my fellow sensory families – don’t doubt, dig deeper! As for Harry’s school, watch out! A mother scorned is a dangerously determined mother indeed