When your perfect child isn’t perfect

I love my child.  My children are my heart.  In that sense, my child will alway be “perfect.”  With that said, it doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t hurt to discover his “path” may be a rockier one….

I know I am lucky. We have healthy children, & relatively few issues have cropped up.  But a few hours ago I came home from a meeting with the teacher’s at Br’s (48 mo) preschool.  And I’m reeling a bit.

Let me first say that I have been really happy with the school, & the communication has generally been pretty great, so there was a bit of a “warning” (?) before today.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean having it spelled out today didn’t gouge a little hole out of my soul for my “baby”.

As I mentioned before, I work outside of the home part-time.  We’ve been incredibly fortunate because of the flexibility of my husband’s schedule as a teacher at a charter school, and incredibly generous grandparents, we’ve been able to exclusively have our children cared for by immediate family.  I enrolled Br in preschool to provide academic stimulation & experience in a classroom setting, and to”lighten” the childcare burden, especially for my mom, since Bl was born.

I explain all this basically to spell out this preschool is the first time Br has experienced a lot of children with relatively few adults.  He’d never even been to a gym or church “daycare” setting (partially as the other half of “being responsible” about choosing delayed immunizations for my children).  We’ve done plenty of play dates & birthday parties, but those usually have at least a 1:2 parent/child ratio.  I had talked with the director of the school about this, the unknown factor, when I enrolled him.  At the time, it was more because of my concern of how he might transition to not being cared for by family.  Turns out, the family part hasn’t been the issue…

We were told today they have concerns Br may have sensory issues.  And social issues.  Autism spectrum was mentioned.  And a suggestion to have an assessment done, so we can all be better prepared to help him in the best ways possible.

They made sure to emphasize the positive: he has a great vocabulary, is a sweet child (when he is not randomly lashing out at unsuspecting children), is bright, is generally well liked by the other children….

But he does keep physically lashing out at other children, often for no apparent reason. And he can’t seem to read social cues.  There was also mention of things like possible body/spatial awareness, core muscle tone weakness, flat affect, repetitive/disruptive noise making.

We all worry about our children.  Especially with the prevalence of “autism” in the news, I’d tried to pay attention to the “warning signs.”  But mostly I heard about language delays & being anti-social.  My son is an early & fluent talker, with plenty of anecdotes about surprising people with his early use of words like “hydraulics” & “amphibious”.  And Br is a very “social”: a favorite anecdote of my husband’s is trying to hurry Br inside while Br was trying to yell “Hi” to a couple arguing across the street.  (On reflection, guess that might also serve as an example of his inability to read social cues…).

Br is my first child.  While I am someone who has always been comfortable around children & had enough experience to not be freaked out by parenthood, I didn’t have enough experience to know what “normal” is or isn’t.  Br was setting our “normal”!

I’ve spent the last couple hours reading through a clinical guide for Autism assessment “best practices”.  At one point, it talked about how parents may not even realize they are compensating for their children’s deficits, and used an example of the parents unconsciously moving into a child’s visual field before calling their name.  All of a sudden I am picturing myself & how I have gotten into the habit of gently touching Br when I call his name to get his attention.  There were other examples of things that I read that are making me second guess differences I’d made excuses for.

At this point there is no diagnosis.  We’ll have to be assessed for that.  And the teacher’s thought was even if he was “diagnosed” with something, he would probably be on the “light” end of the spectrum.  There is also the part of me that worries about “labeling” & the psychological effect that can have on a child….

Regardless, we spent most of the time talking about strategies to support him, make sure he & all the children at the school are safe, and make sure Br doesn’t grow to feel school is a horrible place where he can’t handle himself or the stimuli.  As suck-y as having this conversation was, it reinforced that I found a good school with teachers who genuinely care for the students.  And that was a little band-aid for my bruised heart.

After all this, I want to send out some love to the parents out there already dealing with this, especially those with far more difficult situations than ours.  While I am feeling a bit weepy & having a bit of a pity-party, I DO know how lucky we are.  I just may need a few reminders right now… If any of you have any insight, suggestions, words of encouragement, I would REALLY appreciate you sharing them.

And I wouldn’t mind a little love sent our way either…

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13 thoughts on “When your perfect child isn’t perfect”

  1. Have you read any of Dr. Ayre’s books? They are fabulous. I also attached a link. Hang in. I would suggest a diagnosis so early intervention can be implemented. If your child is on the spectrum, you will find a tremendous amount of help and resources on line and from your pediatrician. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting help early. Here are some suggestions:
    If your child has difficulty with the unexpected, write a social story to sequence the events in the day.
    Give your child reminders to look people in the eye while speaking.
    Allow him to have fidgets
    Make up a sensory diet
    Check out the “How Does Your Engine Run?” for modulation.

    Keep me posted. I also have CD’s on my website to help with letter writing directions if your child is old enough.Many therapy outfits are purchasing from me because of the mufti-modality approach of my products.
    Best of luck!

    http://www.incrediblehorizons.com/sensory-integration.htm

    1. Thank you so much for your suggestions and support!
      We are planning on having him assessed as soon as they can get him scheduled. Hopefully that won’t take too long. 😛
      I haven’t read any books by Dr, Ayre’s. I’ll have to check out the link. I figure there must be good resources out there. Any help determining were to start is incredibly helpful! So far I have just been weeding through info on the assessment piece….
      Also, what did you mean by a “sensory diet”?
      Thank you again! (It means a lot : ) )

  2. I don’t “know” you, Buttercup (linking from your post at we teach), but I can tell from your post here that your son is going to have great guidance and support in the future. Yes, at pre-school, but more importantly from you and his extended family. What a lucky boy!

    It won’t be easy – nothing worthwhile ever is. But you’ll come through it, a strong and loving family with a delightful son.

    Sending love your way from Australia!

  3. So sorry about the stress and worry you must be feeling right now. I’m glad you posted this in the We Teach: Montessori group. I agree with Joanne about the importance of early intervention, although I certainly understand your worries about labeling.

    I’d also recommend making a consistent routine of having Montessori grace and courtesy lessons. Here’s a link to posts I’ve written with some ideas: http://livingmontessorinow.com/category/activities-practical-life-grace-and-courtesy/. All children need lots of reinforcement and practice with grace and courtesy, and the lessons can help children understand social cues better.

    Sending lots of love and ((((hugs))) your way. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. Thank you. The Montessori teachers at the preschool he attends had some great suggestions for things they will try to support him in the classroom, regardless of what the assessment turns out to say, and we’ll try to piggy-back some of that at home.

      I really appreciate the suggestion on the grace & courtesy lessons. I’ll definitely have to check those out.

      I’ve thought about trying to do some sort of lessons on “virtues”, especially “empathy.” I know you are a phenomenal resource for resources :), do you know of any good programs we could check out?

      The love, hugs, thought & prayers are really appreciated too.

      1. At my other blog, Raising Figure Skaters, I often write about character education. Here’s a link to posts where I mention the site Character Counts: http://raisingfigureskaters.com/tag/character-counts/. This would be a good time to register for the free resources for Character Counts ! Week that’s coming up. In the post “What about Your Kids’ Character,” there are links to Character Counts and lots of other character-education resources, including the free Book of Virtues project for homeschoolers. I haven’t used most of the programs other than KONOS with my kids (and Character Counts! some when they were older), but I really loved focusing on virtues throughout my kids’ childhoods.

  4. I found you at we teach. I hope the best for you and br
    What strikes me is that this is a teacher’s assessment not a doctor. I have four boy that fight about everything and are best buds in the next second.
    I would take this teacher with a grain of salt, ask how many children has this person labeled in their lifetime . These types of diagnoses seem out of control in the school systems.
    Br is the oldest, could it be that there are just separation issues? Could it be pent up energy from being in class too long. I home school and boys have ALOT of energy!
    Br is perfect the way he is , now he just has be refined for the interactions he is having. Play , Play.then play some more. Love and prayers for peace at your house!

    1. Thank you for your good wishes.

      The teachers have been really supportive, and their recommendation to have him assessed was meant to hopefully give us all tools to help him. We’ve all agreed to not speak about this in front of Br, as we also have concerns about the effect of “labeling” a child. I also got the impression this is not something they “label” often.

      He has been at the school since May. They shared some of the different things they’d tried, and wanted to brainstorm other ideas with us. He seems pretty attached to the teachers, so hopefully separation isn’t still a problem The teachers also thought of the “pent up energy”, and have encouraged him to go outside & do “active things” (crab walks, sweeping, etc.) when he is “struggling”. And apparently a lot of his issues are at the beginning of the day…

      I really appreciated your statement “…he just has to be refined for the interactions he is having.” A great way to look at his, regardless of the outcome!

  5. “there was also mention of things like possible body/spatial awareness, core muscle tone weakness, ”

    In my meeting with my daughter’s teacher today, these exact terms came up. I found them kind of odd, actually. So impersonal and… I don’t know, over analyzing somehow.

    I want to thank you for commenting on my post at Momformation. My exact thoughts after writing the post were, I should have titled it, “What, my child isn’t perfect?” We mothers are predictable. My first instinct with your story is , am I correct he is only two, it’s far too soon to start labeling. I’m glad you trust his teachers, however, and hope you find your faith back soon.

    1. How interesting how parallel our experiences are! Br is also known for his good vocabulary, as you mentioned about your daughter.
      Br is actually 4, which is probably “prime time” for labeling aka “early intervention.” We definitely want to do whatever we can while he is young to create positive association with school (and, therefore, learning), rather than it feeling like a place where he struggles.
      I’ll be interested to hear how things go for you & your daughter. In the meantime, we’ll send good thoughts your way. :)

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