Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Reason Behind It

I am confident in saying that most parents have had those moments where you go from feeling like a decent caregiver to Worst Mom/Dad of the Year. Like when your baby is endlessly fussy, crying about everything, won't nap, and you're beside yourself with frustration... and then you open their sweet mouth and find their cutting half a dozen teeth... ohhhhh, poor baby!! You were writhing in pain and Mommy assumed you had tapped into Poltergeist for a day. There's a REASON! It all makes sense now.

When Cole was younger, we watched one night on the video monitor as he kept getting up and moved around in his crib. Up, cry, back down. Back up, cry, back down. Repeat for 45 minutes. Nothing else looked fishy on the grainy black-and-white monitor image. Slightly frustrated, I decided to find out why he just wouldn't settle down and as soon as the door opened, I was hit with a wall of the smell of barf. Poor kid had puked all over his crib and was trying to fall asleep in it. :( I felt like trash. Don't mind me, I'll just go in the corner of the room and kick myself.

In each case, assumptions were made when we thought we "knew" what was going on based on cues that are typical for other scenarios. Babies sometimes get cranky or won't nap because, well, they're babies! They're often insane. But cutting teeth gives the craziness a reason.

Kids sometimes won't sleep, and they might get up, go back down, etc. But of course, if they'd thrown up in their own bed and no one noticed, it might be hard to settle down. :( Finding out the reason for these scenarios made the behavior Ok. Because it made sense.

And knowing the ACTUAL scenario necessitated a change in approach on our part. Realizing that Cole had thrown up everywhere meant changing the sheets, changing his PJs, cleaning him up, administering Tylenol for the fever that accompanied the barf, calming him back to bed, and profusely apologizing for frustration that crept in, no matter how minute.

In school, we see differing assumptions play out in how we all approach Mr. Dean. The assessments showed significant delay in cognition while borderline-delayed motor skills. These are both highly questionable, in my opinion, in different directions. Anyway, his teachers see his weaknesses coming out of that cognitive piece. We see them coming *more* (I'm not going to say entirely) out of the motor skill piece. As long as we approach Dean differently, we're going to draw very different conclusions about what he is capable of, what he needs to learn, and how to teach him. It's hard to watch. I can't make anyone at school "get" what we see even though Dean's other evaluations (from Children's, Early Intervention, etc.) support more of what we have seen.

Where it leaves us is opening the option to homeschool or consider alternative placement (like a private preschool with an aide, for example) to give Dean the best shot possible. We find that when people don't have evaluations in front of them telling them who Dean "is," they see so much more potential. They don't put him in a box. And Dean has consistently performed well for those who believe in him, while he has underperformed for those who don't. Coincidence? I think not.


Dorette said...

I can so relate!

Also not sure how to handle other caretakers/teachers

On the one hand, our son did not ask for his special needs and he has a right for teachers to compassionately remember that when dealing with his sensory seeking behaviour, low muscle tone, food sensitivities etc. in a class room situation. A simple instruction such as "Sit still and be quiet" is not so simple for everyone...

On the other hand - the more I advocate his case, the more likely they are to label us both (he as the troublemaker, me as "that mom"). Once other people label you, it is difficult for them to see past the label and really "get" you and what you are trying to communicate.

I considered quitting my job to SAHM, but we need my income to pay for his medical bills and therapy sessions (no such thing as Early Intervention in S Africa unfortunately. We’ve got access to quality medical care, but private medical care is expensive)

It is difficult - he needs his mommy, but these sessions have helped him SO SO much, and his operation last year probably saved his kidney.

The only way to manage my anxiety is to surrender to God (a daily battle). I cannot do it all, so while I don’t always understands God's plan, I trust that HE is in control.

(I've written a novel. Sorry!)

Candice said...

You are an awesome mom and I am sure you will *know* what is right for Dean. That said, you may find that after Dean is under their care, they may be able to see what you're seeing and change their opinions and approach. I would give them a chance, and if it doesn't work out, then try something else.

Ali Foley Shenk said...

Candice, we absolutely are giving them a chance. I would be more encouraged about them getting to know the real Dean if they didn't keep going back to the evaluations about what Dean can and can't do. I want them to take in the current experience in the classroom and really look at what's in front of their eyes instead of what's on a piece of paper! :)

Candice said...

Hopefully, they will. Be sure to keep in communication with them. One frustrating thing for me was that at first they couldn't see Graham's capabilities as he retreated a bit. I would say it took about 2 months before they really started noticing his abilities. Though I admit, they seldom mentioned his evaluations (which weren't perfect, but sound closer than Dean's). Good luck with everything!! You will know what to do!!