With Connor in kindergarten this year, it was our first time seeing the effects of school combined with holiday stress. The last week and a half before the holiday break was a real challenge. We saw our normally happy child exhibit a big spike in aggression and anxiety.
A couple of incidents at school involving hitting, and I was emailing the teacher, special ed teacher, district autism specialist, and our behaviorist. Simple common sense tells me that when a child is anxious, and exhibiting a loss of control as a result, then they need some extra supports to help them with coping strategies. Initially, the teachers did not agree, and chalked it up to holiday angst, recommended that any changes right now would not be a good idea, and informed me they would monitor after the holidays.
Huh? I don’t think so.
Our behaviorist, on the other hand, completely agreed, and sent a list of interventions to try until the holiday break. They were simple tools, aimed at helping Connor get out extra energy, and providing a little more structure at recess time, when he was having challenges.
In an amazing about-face, the teachers and autism specialist “agreed”, and the rest of the week went by without further incident. In my ongoing commitment to being diplomatic, I humbly thanked them for their enthusiasm at helping Connor through the rest of the week. It was great that they saw the value of our behaviorist’s recommendations, and I can only hope that in the future they also see the value of parents recommendations, namely, mine. I’m told by others that my experience is an unfortunately common one. On a positive note, we have all established my reluctance to be dismissed, and my commitment to a team approach. Yay team!!!!
And then there’s the YMCA…..
Of course the challenges carried over there as well. I asked every day if they were using the “happy face” chart and prize box. Ummmm, no. Alrighty then, I’m afraid I cannot address your concerns unless you are using the abundant tools that I have provided.
Next day, better. They used the chart. “So you used the tools, and the behavior was better? So I guess you guys have a handle on things now, and I won’t need to provide any more reminders about using the tools, right?”
It ain’t easy being an advocate. The hardest part is living in a state that is so very far behind in services for the disabled population. There are not adequate programs, people have had very little training, it’s still like a foreign concept here. So I provide tools, I advocate, I teach, and I remind. I remind them constantly that my son is not going away. And worse, I am not going away. Not following through is not an option, because I will be there again and again, asking questions and holding people accountable. Good grief, these children are your neighbors, your friends, your relatives. You will not pretend they don’t exist, and you will not just dismiss them when they don’t fit inside your box.
And now we are in the middle of holiday break, and it is going so nicely. My child is happy, bubbly, and pleasant. He spent 45 minutes at the McDonald’s playscape, making friends, playing nicely, having good manners, and being a pure joy. That’s the best Christmas gift I could have received.