Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Last night we took LM to our local elementary school for a "read aloud" night. They invite the upcoming Kindergartners to come to the classroom to hear a story, get to know each other and get familiar with the school.
It's really a great program. For typical children. For a child with sensory processing issues, for my child, its another big obstacle.
An obstacle that has been on my mind for weeks. I can't stop talking about it, stressing over it, imagining it. How can I prepare LM? What would it be like?
Well, it was bad. There was noise, there were distractions, there were 20 typical 4 and 5 year olds sitting on a rug. And then there was LM. Pacing the room, counting and talking, trying to make sense of his world. And as much as the whole program didn't make sense to LM, LM didn't make sense to the typical parents.
Unfortunately the program is only a half hour. 20 minutes into it LM was getting better, getting more comfortable. The teacher held up the book and LM read the title, author and publisher before she could. The typical parents gasped. I forget that it's not "typical" for typical kids to be reading at a second grade level when they're in preschool.
Then they had milk and cookies. The typical kids scrambled, LM waited his turn and said "No thank you, I'm allergic" when the teacher offered him milk. The teacher looked stunned. I forget that it's not "typical" for typical kids to have had years of social skill training and remember to use their manners with strangers.
"How's your cookie, LM?"
"I think it has flax seeds"
Oh, that's right. Typical 4 year olds don't know all about supplements. Or the planets, or nouns and vowels and math and ...
Well, then it was time to go. LM hadn't made any friends, acted kind of weird, and other than sitting fairly well (on the chair I pulled out for him while the typical kids sat in the floor), I thought the night was pretty disastrous. I should probably mention that I hadn't made any friends either. I couldn't really chat, I couldn't really take my eyes off LM. So I gathered up the little man, and started to slip out the back door.
"Excuse me, LM's Mom?"
Uh oh. The principal. I was prepared with all my answers, yes, he's in a special ed. program now, yes, we've looked at your contained classroom, no, we don't think it's appropriate for him, yes, we think he can be mainstreamed with an aide (you just didn't get a good sense of him tonight I swear) ... but she didn't ask me any of that.
Instead she told me LM was exceptionally bright and I was doing a great job at anticipating his sensory needs and facilitating his progress. She reminded me to make sure that sensory accommodations are written into his IEP, and told me she looked forward to watching his progress. And I said, well, nothing. I was speechless.
And with that, LM turned around, called out "Bye everyone!" and the kids called back, "Bye LM!" Best friends? No, probably not, but it's a darn good start.
So another obstacle overcome. And another member of LM's fan club. Weeks of stressing over this and it went just fine. I couldn't wait to tell Daddy when we got home, he'd be happy to know that I can stop obsessing. So I walked in with smiles instead of the anticipated tears.
"It went great!"
"Uh, what went great?"