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…