Saturday, July 3, 2010

Special Education Services

I have not blogged about this much but for the past month I've been going through the process of getting LittleMan tested for developmental delays.  People who are close to him and experienced with kids have been hinting too me that he is very different from the other kids and having trouble.  He is only three years old, but early therapy is supposed to help.  I began pursuing a free evaluation through the county, which started with me filling out a developmental checklist of 30 ages and stages questions.  He landed behind on the communication, problem solving, and social and emotional scales.  He qualified for further evaluation from the county, but the process takes a couple months.  About the same time he had a very rough day at preschool where my friend, who was instructing that day, said that he began displaying a number of the behaviors diagnostic to autism spectrum.  I asked his daycare provider, "Is he really that different?"  She said that he does not have conversations like the other kids do and he wont look at you or answer questions.  He sits by himself and plays with his trains or puzzles.  He does not want to participate in activities or do writing.  She really encouraged me to continue the evaluation process, "It is better if we start soon.  That will be better.", "then we will know and we can take care of him" "It's not your fault."  She has a mentally retarded daughter, so I held back from saying what I really wanted to ask, "Is he going to be ok?"
When the forms and materials came in the mail, I really froze up.  There were more questions about his behavior, questions that sounded more extreme than what he does.  There were questions for his daycare to fill out.  And there was this phrase: to determine if your child should enroll in school Special Education Services.
All I could see when reading that was a short bus, and a classroom from my elementary school with down syndrome kids.   I know that is not what things are like now a days; there are lots of levels and specialized learning environments.  In public middle school, I was in the Gifted and Talented (GT) class, but one of my best friends was in the Learning Disabilities (LD) class.  She seemed completely normal to me, I guess that she just had trouble with school work.
After seeing 'Special Education'  I just couldn't bring myself to fill the forms out.  I just threw the forms in the trash, telling myself that they would never give services to us if he wasn't fully vaccinated anyway.  I contacted a private practice occupational therapist to get an evaluation for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  Anecdotes I read about children with this disorder really correlated with some of the odd and worrisome things that LittleMan does: covers his ears when music plays, lays down on the floor proclaiming that he is 'tired' or 'scared' in structured situations, and climbing and jumping with an insatiable need for speed and stimulation.
The OT actually advised that I stop all vaccines for him, even though the county requires vaccines.  Kind of odd differences in recommendations.  I got another evaluation checklist from the OT, and filled out some forms with my Goals from the Therapy.  
So that was all what happened about three weeks ago.  I ended up cancelling the evaluation with the OT.  I kept looking at my Therapy Goals and struggling with them.  I had: 
  1. sits and participates at circle time
  2. plays with other kids
  3. listens to directions
  4. talks about things other than trains
  5. uses his imagination
  6. doesn't say that he is scared or cold 
I felt very icky about wanting to 'change' my kid to be more normal/perfect.  The most important thing to me is that he is happy and safe.  Every kid and adult has their manias.  I can look around at pretty much every person I've ever known in my life and find some or multiple reasons why they need therapy.  I think putting pressure on him to be more perfect according to my definition could backfire and make him more crazy.  I know that it did to me when I was a kid.  My parents threw me in boarding school because I let my grades slip in middle school.  That made me resent and distrust them for my whole adolescence.
I think the biggest reason that I was so worried about him a few weeks ago was because he didn't seem happy or responsive when I would talk to him.  But since I've changed my schedule to have more days at home, he has been sweet and joyous: following my directions and using his imagination, and never saying that he is scared or cold.  Last Wednesday, I kept thinking, "there's nothing wrong with this boy."
I had a conversation with his daycare provider again a couple days ago.  She noticed a dramatic change in him over the last few weeks.  He started playing with the other kids, sitting and participating in circle time, and saying he is 'happy.' She says that he looks like he has so much more energy.  
So I cancelled the OT appointment.  It was going to cost $500 just for the evaluation.  I figured that it is not worth evaluating him if we've already accomplished the Goals.  
Then I got a call from the county early childhood special education people.  They said that he does not need to be vaccinated to receive the evaluation, only once he enters school.  I might go through with their evaluation, just because it is free and I don't want to ignore it if he is having a serious mental problem.  But I'm going to try not to fret about it, and just focus on coaching him on my own through games and safe activities.  I think he really needed some one-on-one attention from his mama.  We also changed his supplement regime, and started giving him vitamins, fish oils, and probiotics daily.  He likes taking them, which I think is a sign that his body knows they helping something.  
I really hope things continue going well.

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