Saturday, May 16, 2009

Do Not Panic

I went to parent-teacher conference tonight; I was a bit apprehensive because my last conference several months ago gave me cause for some sleepless nights.  It also rekindled my worry that perhaps Danny is on the Spectrum, after all, despite his previous diagnosis to the contrary.  The biggest concerns Miss A had were with his social interactions and his pencil grip.   He interacted with the other kids, but didn't tend to initiate those interactions and seemed to prefer to be alone.  

Anyway, at today's conference Miss Angie told me that Danny is one of the only kids in the whole class who now uses a correct pencil grip.  I am really proud of him; he has worked on this so hard and is doing so well.  While I am really glad he has seemed to overcome this problem, I am wondering why the teacher made such a big deal of  it in the first place if it is something universally difficult for kids.  I didn't realize that practically the entire preschool class was struggling with the same issue.  Knowing that might have saved me a bit of anxiety and stress. I had visions of Danny being the only kid who couldn't hold the pencil right and worried that this was going to hold him back somehow.  (I'm really not sure how.  After all, I know several adults who hold their pens incorrectly and one of them is a pathologist.  Obviously this hasn't hurt his career any.)   Why don't teachers think to tell you that these sorts of things are normal?  Is it because they think we won't take them seriously otherwise?

All year long we have worked on the pencil grip.  I spent so much time telling him to fix his grip and he would get really annoyed with me. (really, who could blame him?)  Finally, I decided to let it go.  I figured if he was willing to practice writing, I should quit hounding him.  I didn't want to make it an ordeal for him and turn him off to writing entirely.  And what was the result?  Danny practices his writing every day and has basically fixed his grip on his own.  I never have to correct him anymore at all.  Makes me sheepishly admit that perhaps all my worrying sometimes makes things worse.

Anyway, as for his social interaction, Danny is doing pretty well in that area as well.  He still tends to play on his own, but interacts a lot on the playground.  Miss A. says she is really pleased with his progress and is confident he will do well in kindergarten.  And on top of all that, there were several other areas in which Danny has totally excelled.  He is one of only two boys in the class who can read many words, and has completely caught up in the motor skills areas.

I guess this goes to show that sometimes kids just need time to catch up, that panicking isn't necessarily the best response.  I do wish someone could have spared me all that worry.  When I tried to get reassurance from his teacher at his last conference, she was really noncommittal about whether she thought he would catch up.  While I understand she could make me no promises, I wish someone could have assuaged my worries just a bit.  I guess I should have had more confidence in my own judgment and instincts.

Regardless, Danny is doing well, and though there are still struggles, I need to remember
 that struggles are normal for every kid.  This has been a good reminder that I need to keep things in perspective.  The fact that Danny likes to play alone at school does not negate all the times when he plays with his friends in small group situations, like play dates.   Just because he tends to get overwhelmed in large groups doesn't mean he will never have friends.   

I guess Douglas Adams was even more brilliant than I originally thought.  I think I will adopt his mantra, "Do not panic."  It might save me, and everyone I know, a lot of anxiety if I do.


beckbot said...

So glad to hear this! I know that you worry so much about it; I'm sure it feels good to have some good news.

Sarah said...

It is so easy to remind each other that baby steps are relevant even though we tend to sneak peeks at other families and the progress of other kids. You will never forget how he learned to hold that pencil and I am going to go out on limb and suggest that you just saw a glimpse of Danny's character and drive that will be with him throughout life.

You and Bil should take a moment to pat one another on the back...Danny's drive and character are being shaped by the both of you.

Mrsbear said...

I'm so glad to hear your worries were assuaged. It seems a little ridiculous that the teacher would make such an issue of the pencil hold when all kids struggle with it. My son only mastered it this year during the first half of Kindergarten. I was always a shy kid myself, who's turned in to a somewhat shy adult as well. Not everyone does well in large groups, not everyone should be expected to. "Don't panic" is an excellent philosophy, if only it were that easy. :)

Kim said...

I tend to do the same thing... if a teacher or therapist mentions something Meechi struggles with I obesess about it for a while. I often wonder if I am overreacting. Not everything is a major issue.

Anonymous said...

And yet....doesn't a small part of your brain wonder "if I didn't push him, would he progress as far?"

Mine always does. I try not to panic, but there is a delicate balance to the raising of children. I often compare the situation to my other (younger) child. I think: would you be worried if it was Eric?

If the answer is no, I only work on the skill a little bit. Same as I would with Eric. If the answer is Eric can already do it - then we work on it. Eric is some ways is the barometer. Doesn't work for everything, but it helps me to stop freaking out over everything the "other kids" appear to be doing.

Anonymous said...

Dont feel bad, Bill liked to play alone. He even threatend to burn the school down. You are doing great!

lonestar said...

That is great advice, although it can be hard to follow sometimes, huh? I'm glad to hear he's doing so well!

Elizabeth Channel said...

I am so happy for you! I can only imagine how you are now looking forward to kindergarten instead of fearing it.

Danny will do great!