Notes from the [parenting] Trenches

[Whoa, this got long!]

We are having trouble with the little man’s classroom and it may be time for us to put on our super-parent capes.

Some background: The little man goes to a special needs daycare. He has a classroom where he plays with other children his age with varying levels of disability. In his classrooms they have a few small goals, mostly regarding socialization and response. He also has his regular therapy onsite – weekly visits with PT, OT and Speech. This works really well for us because the therapists coordinate with his regular teacher and everyone theoretically works towards the same goals. It is also super helpful because the little man has a social worker on site that helps coordinate insurance needs, equipment requests, etc. We have an excellent pediatrician who will bend over backwards to help him, but we can’t just stop by to see her and randomly ask questions, so it helps to have a facilitator just a phone call away.

A couple of weeks ago, the school added a new classroom and the little man was moved. Not a big deal as it was time for him to move up age-wise. He is easy going and has been moved before, so I didn’t foresee any problems. There was also a perk – since they were just creating this classroom, it was only going to have ten kids in it (instead of 15-16) and the little man would have even more one-on-one attention.

This attention and socialization is very important to the little man’s development. Really – it means everything. Let me give you an example: the little man stayed in the infant classroom longer than normal because of his severe physical disability. The teachers were afraid he might just be trampled by the older, mobile kids. When we did eventually move him to the new class, within a week he was picking up rectangle toys and pretending to talk on the phone. Pretending! A huge milestone and one he learned not from his parents or his therapists, but from his peers. So, engagement is important. Very important.

Anyway, the little man starts in the new classroom. It is a little odd because the space is being carved out of a large play area, but we aren’t worried. This just means that he is closer to the open space and his therapists. It is also a bit dark, but we assume they will be working on the lighting situation. My husband is the designated drop off/pick off dude and it took a few days to meet the new teacher because of the times he ends up on-site. The new teacher had been an aide in his old class, but we had never actually met her.

Then things took a disappointing turn. The new teacher is quiet. Oddly quiet – so quiet that she never introduced herself to my husband and only mumbled a response when he spoke to her directly. Well, okay. Maybe she is nervous. The aide in the class is gruff and off-putting. We decide to give it a few days and keep an eye on the situation.

That first week the little man happens to have two appointments and the husband ends up in the classroom right in the middle of the day when the teacher should be at her best. Again, no engagement. No real eye-contact really. We decided to talk to his on-site social worker as soon as we are able. Monday morning rolls around and we get a call from the nurses – the little man needs more pediasure. We didn’t get the note that was supposed to be sent home on Friday (eventually, the nurses find it on the teachers desk). The husband leaves work to take them what they need and – look at that! – has a perfect opportunity to voice our concerns.

The social worker is great. She listens and takes notes on all our concerns. Talks more about the classroom and how the teacher always appears to be excellent with the children (they obviously wouldn’t have given her a class if she wasn’t). She is very adamant that we can move him at any time, but would like us to give it another week or so while they try to address the problem. We are reasonable people and – perhaps most importantly – are very involved in the little man’s day-to-day (sadly, this isn’t always the case for children in these facilities); if we are having these problems, it seems likely that others are too.

Unfortunately, that trial week is almost over and we aren’t seeing the improvements we had hoped. Still little-to-no verbal response from the teacher and even though she has been sending home his daily reports, they haven’t been helpful. One day it said he had been “uncooperative” and the next day it said he had been “uncooperative off and on during the day.” Well, yeah. First, he is three. Second, he is disabled and we are still unsure of his comprehension level. I can’t do anything to help if all you can tell me is “uncooperative.”

The teacher in one of the rooms we could move him to ran into the husband yesterday and casual mentioned “I wish I could have gotten [the little man] in my room.”

This might just be her lucky day.

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