Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Come with me on a new journey

It all started in early June when I’d received a call from CJ’s preschool. There’d been an incident with the new teacher. He’d ripped a necklace off of a child’s neck and then slapped the teacher when she tried to put him in time-out. I was horrified, devastated and just plain didn’t understand. Yes, CJ is challenging, but that didn’t seem right. Of course, I immediately agree to conference with the owner and his two teachers the upcoming Monday.

At home, I gently asked CJ what had gone on that day. I had to prod at him a couple times before he said that he was getting the necklace off a fence for the kid and it broke. Well, CJ’s about as gentle as a bull in a china shop, no surprise there. I asked him again to clarify, off the fence? “Did you take it off the kid’s neck?” He insisted it was on the fence. Then I asked him, “Did you slap the teacher?” “Yes,” he replied. When asked why he said that she wouldn’t put him down. I clarified again that she had picked him up off the ground. They’d told me that she’d bent down to speak to him after he’d run from her when she’d asked him to go to time-out. He said again that she’d picked him up and wouldn’t let him go. When asked why he didn’t go to time-out when told to, he said that he’d just wanted to play. In his mind, he didn’t do a thing wrong and couldn’t figure why he was being punished. It didn’t seem like she’d explained to him the reason.

At the meeting on Monday, I’d asked teacher #1 if she’d witnessed the exchange between CJ & teacher #2. She told me that she’d gone inside before then to either take a child to the restroom or go herself- she couldn’t recall which. And teacher #2 was left on the playground with the class by herself. So I asked teacher #2 if she’d seen CJ ‘rip the necklace from the child’s neck.’ No, she hadn’t but she was quick to clarify that she’d only looked away for one minute and when she looked back CJ was holding the broken necklace and the other child was crying. And she immediately proceeds to tell CJ to go time-out and he ran. So now you have a grown woman chasing a 4 year old around the playground and getting angrier by the second. Why did she chase him? It’s a fenced in playground- where’s he going to go? And when it came out that she’d picked him up, the school’s owner dropped it, quickly.

During our meeting they inform me that my child is “different from anything they’ve ever seen.” They are quick to tell me everything they find wrong with him and then basically ask me to “fix it.” At the time, I thought they were going to be willing to work with me. They put together a list of “concerns” and I faxed that off to his pediatrician for her to review. When I let them know the doctor was referring us to Occupational Therapist to evaluate him for Sensory Processing Disorder, I basically gave them the end date for his enrollment there. I just didn’t know it, yet.

The past few weeks, I’ve mulled over whether or not to chronicle our new journey here on the blog. Do I put this out there? Do I even continue to blog at all? Even the name of my blog has caused me some concern. Does the reference to Cuckoo’s Nest and discussing raising a child with a neurological disorder go together? The name came long before CJ existed. But does it show a lack of empathy? Even do my previous posts where I discuss CJ’s behavior and sometimes with a comical spin- is that cruel in hindsight? I haven’t come up with answers on most of my questions. However, I am not ashamed that my child has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). He’s a brilliant child and I want to post the story out there.

Because one thing I found when I started researching SPD is that most people who are directly affected, have no idea what it is. And those who have children or are closely linked to children with any of these types of disorders are extremely supportive. On Twitter, I’ve found a huge network of support. Previously parents facing these types of diagnosis were isolated- your kid didn’t act right and there was very little information out there. This is changing.

This is a new road for us. I’m not sure what it holds but there will be some bumps, potholes and hills, mountains and valleys along the way. I’m going to try to be honest about the experience and every now and then someone might need to remind me to enjoy the scenery.


Kay Elam Writes said...

First of all, don't stop blogging. You need a creative outlet and to spin it in a comical way is a gift not only to your readers but to yourself.

Second, get off this guilt trip. Of course your prior blogs and the name of your blog have nothing to do with this diagnosis. Give yourself a break. You're over thinking it.

Third, I think your child is better off out of this preschool. They obviously didn't do due diligence. I commend you as a parent for not over reacting and for listening to your child. Your parenting skills are reflected in how you gently coaxed the real story from him. You're right--in his mind he didn't do anything wrong. He was trying to help someone get their necklace unhung and his teachers overreacted. He's too young to have the communication skills to question their behavior (and besides they are teachers).

Good for you for sending your concerns to the pediatrician and working with him/her to find the medical reason for your son's behavior.

Good luck and keep on blogging. I'd like to follow your journey through this bump in the road. Most of all remember you are a good mom. Again, give yourself a break.

Terri Jones said...

Thanks Kay. That's really sweet of you. I appreciate the comments. We're a work in progress and there's lots more to get off my chest.