Thursday, April 16, 2009

IEPs, Domain Meetings and Oreos

I just bought a package of Oreos for the very first time.  Not being my favorite cookie, I don't typically eat them.  I can count the number of times I have ingested Oreos in the last year on one hand.  So, why did I buy Oreos?  Because I felt bad for Danny.

This morning I had a domain meeting at Danny's school.  What this means is that I sat down with all the people at school who work with Danny: his teacher, speech therapist, special ed teacher, the principal and the school psychologist, and together we determined what evaluations Danny should have before kindergarten. 

The meeting was fairly straightforward and even pleasant; I have had really good experiences with the staff at our preschool.  They really seem to have Danny's best interests at heart and don't appear to be trying to shirk their responsibilities the way other school districts seem to do (at least from what I have heard, especially in the Special Ed course I was required to take in grad school).  They are even making it a point to ensure that the Occupational Therapist does an evaluation, even though Danny at this time does not qualify for OT services at school. 

So, why the Oreos?  I am not sure, but despite the good meeting, I just felt really sad.  Sad that Danny has to undergo even more evaluations in the Fall, (he has undergone so many evals in the last 4 years that I have lost count) sad that he struggles with so many common tasks that are easy for most kids, like handwriting with the proper grasp, interacting appropriately with others, handling disruptions in schedules, and communicating his feelings and grasping abstract ideas.  

As I said, I know it isn't really rational, how I am feeling.  As far as I can tell, Danny has no idea that he is different from other kids.  And truly, his differences are not nearly as noticeable as they used to be.  He is doing well in school and seems to be prepared for kindergarten.  But still.  I know they are there and I worry about it a lot.  I  know that many of the difficulties Danny faces are actually pretty common across the board.  For example, even though Charlotte can speak quite well, when she is tired and overstimulated, she rarely communicates coherently, preferring instead to cry and keen and throw herself to the floor.  I know that most kids have problems communicating when they are upset, but Danny is definitely delayed in this area as in most areas of communication.

What doesn't help is that this past month has been extremely difficult for Danny.  He has regressed in a few ways and is acting out in ways that he hasn't done for quite some time.  Danny has had a really hard time with overstimulation and has been much more emotional  and short-tempered.  There are so many possible explanations for this, not least of which is having a baby in the house and Bil not being around much at all.  Add to that the disruption in schedules, me being a crabby shrew much of the time, and the fact that our therapy has been spotty at best and you have the recipe for lost of meltdowns and difficulty in dealing with sensory stimulation.  And Danny's teacher pretty much confirmed this when she told me he has been doing really well, especially this past month, at school.  Obviously he is struggling at home because of all the disruptions.

I'm not even exactly sure what I am trying to communicate in this post.  Danny is a wonderful little boy who is full of life and curiosity; he's very intelligent and exuberant.  But there are still major difficulties sometimes and developmental delays that make me worry about him and the future.  Maybe I am sad because I thought it would have all been fixed by now?  I don't really know.  What I do know is that I wish I could make it easier for Danny, even though I know that isn't always the best solution. I recently read a book in which a parenting expert  asserted that the best way for a kid to develop high self-esteem for them to have to overcome challenges.  When a kid does something that is difficult and requires hard work and they succeed, it tends to make them feel good about themselves and their achievements.  I agree with this and even see it manifested in Danny lately.

So tonight after dinner, we will be having Oreos for dessert, because even though I can't take away his SPD, I can give him a special treat and watch his face light up as he says, "Mommy, Oreos are my favorite treat ever!"  


Amy Jane said...

Here is a big HUG for you and a big HUG for Danny. That's all.

Anonymous said...

you are so right! sometimes it just the little things that count. danny sounds a lot like my little guy. some days seem so easy and other days (or weeks) seem like things will never change.
you can do it! you sound like a good mama....we all do the best we long as you're loving him and looking out for his best interest i'm sure you're doing great!!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Huge hugs to you! This is so timely for me... the Tongginator went to the dentist this morning. Yeah. Not fun. I know it's a small thing for many, but for us it's a reminder. A reminder of the differences, the past, everything.

beckbot said...

Oh, Patty. I totally understand! My meltdown with the boys yesterday was sufficiently horrible to merit both lunch with Mom at school and a package of Skittles. If I were a real, full-time single parent I'm sure we'd be having ice cream for breakfast every day to make up for my short temper.

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

I told my husband last week that I'm getting really tired of this school year that seems to be lasting forever. Maybe Danny is getting tired too? Hang in there and take it one day at a time. I know focusing on just the day ahead of me has helped me so many times!

Sarah said...

I am going to let you in on the most coveted secret amongst special needs parents...we tend to hold our kids and their behaviors at a much higher caliber then typical kids. We tend to lose sight at how hard our kiddos work to just do the "typical" things.

Emma just started to eat was a monumental accomplishment. Not only did she have to contend with 2 ingredients (ie bread and peanut butter) but had to deal with the texture. And while I hear so many of my friends complain that their kids are such crappy eaters, Emma overcame a really tough struggle. I have been beaming all week.

It can be disheartening to look at the "whole picture"---I am still guilty of doing it. But as time passes, you are going to get a kick out of the tiniest things that Danny me.

Mrsbear said...

Sounds like you both have quite a bit to contend with, but with you as Danny's mom and biggest advocate, he will succeed. Some days will warrant Oreo binges, hopefully they'll be outnumbered by the ones that don't. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add that in our (limited) experience, Kindergarten is an incredible growth year. Nathan has completely changed, mostly for the better, since last year. He has lots of challenges still, but he's grown more than any of the "typical" kids in his class. I am constantly shocked at what is possible for him now, versus when he started. Hang in there & keep the Oreos on stand-by. It'll get better.

Elizabeth Channel said...

What a sweet, thoughtful mommy you are--even with a newborn you think of Oreos! Danny is so blessed to have you.

I have to agree with the self-esteem when it comes to a child with SPD. Just focus on those positives; he'll realize the differences with handwriting et al in kindy, and that'll all be OK for the most part if he sees that he certainly has so many other talents, which he will.

It's a journey, to be sure, but Danny is going to shine in Kindergarten. I just know it!