On Wednesday Grant and I met with a child study team after receiving a call on Friday that Tyler was being disruptive in school, had speech delays, and fine and motor skill delays.
I first lamented the fact that I have grown too heavy to where nothing anywhere near appropriate would fit me for the meeting except for capri pants. Except it was 63 degrees and raining. With my swollen feet, all I have still been wearing is flip-flops. I debated going to the store that day but decided it would be too hard on me physically to have to rush to buy proper attire. A fancy blue t-shirt, capris, and sparkly blue “dress” flip-flops. Lip gloss and earrings. This was as good as it was going to get.
Grant and I had a lot to say and we knew we had to do a lot of listening. Whenever I have to do something stressful like this, I sort of go out of my body and the “actress”, the strong and confident Emily takes over. The one who won’t cry and freak out. After things like this are over, I come out of them thinking “Who was that woman? What happened in there?”
It was Grant and I, and six women ranging from the Vice-Principal to Tyler’s teacher to three Support Staff teachers; teachers who assist the regular teachers with special needs children, one of which had already been assigned to Tyler. A bit shocking, something that huge and we have never been told this? Tyler had spoken to me about a new teacher in the class but I had just figured it was a teacher’s aide, never dreaming she was actually Tyler’s teacher!
The support instructor read her report about my son. It began, “Tyler is an imaginative kindergartner…” and was mostly negative from there except he had higher math skills than the average kindergartner. It said that he frequently trips in school, especially in gym class and that he bumps into the other kids. That he cannot grip a pencil or other writing implement tight enough or press hard enough and so he writes his name at a level far below other children his age. That when she tested him he was very fidgety.
The worst parts of the report is that throughout the day Tyler makes explosive sounds and uses his hands as if he is playing with them. She said that she believed Tyler has a secret language known only to himself!
And then his teacher said that Tyler hates certain children but will not tell her why and that today he told another child that he was going to cut off his head.
Some of the things she said about Tyler I was ready to rebut, to explain. A lot of it was worse than I thought. We have daily problems with Tyler saying he hates us and he wants to kill us, I didn’t know that this was starting to happen in school.
Grant and I had taken notes. Grant talked first about Tyler’s OCD, Anxiety and Tourette’s Syndrome and about how some of these things may be contributing factors, such as his poor handwriting and so-called poor gross motor skills. He also told the team that Tyler has been bullied twice at two different daycares.
Then it was my turn. I told him that he had no confidence, he knew he was not as good as me or even some other children and he was reluctant to try. How at home he would yell at me, “I will never be as smart as you!” How he knows when he is being tested, examined or evaluated and gets very nervous. I told him how he plays games on my iPhone, uses an adult scissors and cuts well, and uses the touch mouse on my MacBook Air so the poor fine motor skills are not adding up at home. I explained how in preschool when he was uninterested in a lesson how he would stop paying attention, go play and yet still learn the lesson because he was still listening.
Grant and I both said that we did not doubt that Tyler was making explosive noises but that he does not do that at home except when he is playing and we had never heard him speak anything but English.
We told them we were aware of Tyler’s verbal attacks and that we have an appointment scheduled for a child psychologist.
As Grant and I talked, I could see the team’s faces; lightbulbs going off in their heads, and all of them taking furious notes.
Unfortunately we were out of time! We all agreed that for two weeks his teacher and his support teacher would work on trying to minimize Tyler’s disruption to the class and that we would meet again. The Guidance Counselor told us she would be happy to start working with Tyler now that she had a clearer picture.
That night we received a call from the woman assigned to be Tyler’s Case Manager. She said that she and the team were blown away at how Grant and I had contributed to the meeting. That more than half the time the parents do not even show up and if they do, they don’t say a word. She thanked us for being willing to share so much of Tyler’s background and that this was one of the most productive meetings she had ever been at.
Grant and I were surprised. Aren’t parents supposed to show up to these meetings? Aren’t they supposed to say things that can clarify what the teachers are seeing in order to better understand their child?
I don’t give ourselves any extra credit for “coming off” well at the meeting. It’s just what any good parent would do for their child.