Sadness Shield

by Jodifur on October 19, 2009

On Friday Michael had an appointment for Occupational Therapy testing that proved illuminating.  While he needs some more testing, the OT believes he has low tone, and that is impacting his fine motor skills, which is impacting his ability to do things like cut and use a pencil.  Since this preschool is more academic than his old preschool, he is acting out, hence the aggression.  We are not going to discuss the fact that the preschool has been rallying against the behavior but never bothered to notice the can can't hold a scissor, a pencil, or sit up correctly at circle time for goodness sake.  She did see what she said was some "sensory seeking behavior" but she was not sure she would diagnose him with sensory processing disorder and hey, if he is going to get OT anyway, we can just throw that in.

And that is why he never nursed.  He couldn't.  (Talk about finally releasing all the mommy guilt 4 YEARS LATER.)  And he never crawled, he went straight to walking.  And he still won't dress himself, I thought he was just being lazy, but he actually can't do buttons and snaps.  And the not riding a bike, he doesn't think he can, so he won't try.    

I'm hoping that this is the answer, and we can to put to bed all the ADHD, severely learning disabled concerns the school has put in my head.  As for the school, I'm starting to be a little concerned they are killing his self esteem.  Michael told me this weekend, "he was dumb" and "he is always a bad boy," things I has never heard him say before.  I chose this school because I thought it would be a better fit for my schedule, they had a better pre-k program, and his last school BROKE HIS HAND.  But hey, I'd take a broken hand over a broken spirit any day.  Broken bones heal.  I'm not sure how to explain it, but it is like they are slowly killing the joy inside of him.  The change I have seen in him over the past month is heartbreaking.

Doug and I went to see Where The Wild Things Are this weekend, as I'm sure many of you did.  And Max reminded me so much of Michael, and I think he was supposed to, I think he was cast to be the "everyboy."  But it was his complete and utter sadness that reminded me of Michael.  How hopeless he seemed.

I will not have that for my four year old.  He is bright.  He is charming.  He is lovely, and sweet, and a daredevil, and has a smile that could break your heart.  I need to bring that smile back.  As Max says in the movie, I will be "his sadness shield."  I will bring my Michael back.    

I start looking at new schools today.  And I'm planning on a conversation with his current school as well.  Michael will be okay.  I'm just not sure I'm ever going to recover.  I absolutely cannot watch this without sobbing.

{ 30 comments }

Kristie October 19, 2009 at 8:44 am

Finally, an answer. Maybe not the answer you wanted but at least something you can work with. So where do you guys go from here? Besides ditching the school? They don’t deserve to teach Michael anyway.

Maura October 19, 2009 at 8:59 am

you have answers and a plan of attack – go get ‘em tiger!!!!

Monica October 19, 2009 at 9:26 am

Oh wow, our experiences are so similar that it’s making me positively devastated…I hoped that our school disaster was uncommon, but I’m learning that it’s happening to children all too often. Once you find a good OT, you will see an amazing difference in Michael. Harrison’s confidence has increased so much after spending time with people who believe he can and will be successful, who tell him how smart he is, and who genuinely understand his issues (and most importantly, they understand those issues don’t define him).
Will you also be getting a PT evaluation? I only ask because you mentioned him not wanting to ride a bike, which is a sign of some bilateral difficulties. Can he swing on the swings by himself at the playground?
Many OT places have sensory gyms so they can kind of work on both issues at the same time. I believe that many children with low tone are misdiagnosed with ADHD because they can appear so fidgety…glad your OT picked up on that.
Good luck with everything! Sounds like you are making a lot of progress.

PunditMom/Joanne Bamberger October 19, 2009 at 9:49 am

And when are teachers and schools going to get it that most of our children don’t fit into the mold they want them to? All of our kids have special qualities or special needs of some sort, so why doesn’t our system (including early childhood education) take that into account?
I really don’t get it, but am so glad that you are finding some answers to be able to move forward — for Michael and for all of you.
xo

pgoodness October 19, 2009 at 10:22 am

I am breathing a sigh of relief that you are getting some answers; I am crying because they are breaking his spirit and there is nothing worse than that. You will find a better place for him and he will be fine…and you will too. Hang in there. xo

lindsey October 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

knowledge is power. now take it and run with it. i’ve never understood how schools/teachers have gotten away with breaking the spirit of a child. hooray for your tenacity. hang in there. sending hugs.
xo

Headless Mom October 19, 2009 at 11:26 am

So glad you have some answers. It sounds like something you can work with. Keep your MamaBear hat on-knowing that you love him and are fighting for him in all areas will go a long way. Good luck finding a new school, I’m certain you’ll find a perfect fit!

Angel October 19, 2009 at 11:33 am

I’m so glad that you are getting some answers and Michael will be getting the help he needs. It’s good to know that the school may have been on to something by leading you to seek help, no matter how differently they thought about it. *hugs* I’m hoping for some answers and quick improvement for you, and Michael, and that you won’t be stuck like we are…. I’m sure you’ll have your happy Michael back soon! Oh and about the school bringing his self-esteem down, you should definitely talk to them about it.
Take care,
Angelxxx

stephanie October 19, 2009 at 11:34 am

You must feel some relief now having some answers. It sort of makes sense that Michael would react that way to not being able to do all the things the other kids do, when he’s obviously a very smart kid. It must be especially frustrating to be his age and realize something is different, but not know what it is or how to fix it. Sounds like you guys are finally on the right path with this! Good luck with the school decision… hopefully now that you have some answers for them, they will be better able to work with you and Michael.

The Tutugirl October 19, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Oh, Jodi. My heart is breaking for you and Michael. What a horrible school to make him so sad. How could they be so blind when they were so critical? I hope that they can at least be more receptive now that they know what’s going on.
I’m glad you at least have an answer. And knowing how awesome you are as a mom, you’re going run with it. Michael is so lucky to have you as a mom.

mouthy_broad October 19, 2009 at 1:32 pm

i am so glad someone can see what he is struggling with and actually say hey, we can work on this. not your kid is dumb and misbehaved and he needs to go. what kind of teachers see this struggle and not say hey, i think there is something a little off here –how can we get to the bottom of that?
he is 4 people, what does this school have 5 yr olds doing–splitting the atom? fck.
this isn’t your fault–you only have one kid and they don’t come with a manual! you don’t have anything to compare him to.
a broken hand is WAY BETTER than a broken spirit. boo to them. boooooo.

M&Co. October 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm

That spirit thing is important. That’s one of the primary reasons we are thinking about moving the BoyChild to a different school. I will not have his spirit broken by people who don’t understand and don’t appear to care that they don’t understand.

M&Co. October 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm

That spirit thing is important. That’s one of the primary reasons we are thinking about moving the BoyChild to a different school. I will not have his spirit broken by people who don’t understand and don’t appear to care that they don’t understand.

M&Co. October 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm

That spirit thing is important. That’s one of the primary reasons we are thinking about moving the BoyChild to a different school. I will not have his spirit broken by people who don’t understand and don’t appear to care that they don’t understand.

M&Co. October 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm

That spirit thing is important. That’s one of the primary reasons we are thinking about moving the BoyChild to a different school. I will not have his spirit broken by people who don’t understand and don’t appear to care that they don’t understand.

Jessi October 19, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I’m so glad you have an answer. And it’s so clear!! I hope the OT turns out to be a good fit and everything comes together. I’ll be praying.
On another note. I am trying really, really hard to not shout “GET HIM OUT OF THAT SCHOOL.” at my computer. I’m sure that your mommy-instincts will pull you through and you don’t need mine. My little brother was told by his second grade teacher that he would never read above a sixth grade level, to his face, in front of the class, repeatedly. He reads at about a 9th and he’s graduating this year. The only reason he got to the 9th grade level is because he was determined to prove her wrong. It’s been a struggle. And not because he wasn’t capable, but because she convinced him that he wasn’t worth it. Teachers have so much power and often don’t even realize it. In my experience if he says that he’s dumb and he’s bad, he’s hearing it. Maybe not those exact words, but he’s hearing it.
My two cents. I hearby hang my head in shame and take my assvice elsewhere. I just couldn’t help it.

Mrs. Wilson October 19, 2009 at 4:31 pm

That makes me so angry – that the school wouldn’t look for the “why” and that he would somehow get the impression that he is “dumb” and a “bad boy”. He is ONLY FOUR!!
I’m glad that you have the WHY now, and that it will help him (and you) in the future. I’m glad he has such an awesome mom!!

Angela October 19, 2009 at 5:19 pm

that just breaks my heart to hear him refer to himself that way. I think pulling him out of there and finding another school is absolutely the right thing to do. And I can’t believe the school has the GALL to disagree with the OT’s assessment.
I’m just glad you have what sounds like an accurate dx to work on, and that you found it this early.
I’m going to hold off watching that video till later since I’m trying to avoid tears at work.
Hugs to you all.

Isabel @AlphaMom October 19, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Good on you for being all over this. Very proud of you. It’s not easy challenging school authorities. But you are Michael’s sadness shield and his advocate.

the new girl October 19, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Yay for those answers and BOO for those realizations. I was working on an email for you and then all hell broke loose in the house of Infant and Toddler. Boy, does THIS update give a girl a lot to say.
xo

Heather October 19, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Sounds like you have found some great supports for him with the OT eval. We put C back in OT at the start of the school year and it has done wonders. They have so many cool ways of working on fine motor and other skills. She has hypotonia/dyspraxia so the sitting in a seat thing or in circle time has always been hard. When she is struggling she has a tendency to cry, but many boys I know w/ similar issues will go the opposite and get angry/frustrated. You are an awesome mom and he will be just fine. Some kids just need more of x and less of y to get to z. *hugs*

Stimey October 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Jesus, I am so sorry. Your school sounds like a nightmare. I am so sorry. It’s hard enough to go through having to get him evaluated and start OT without having his school be so horrible to him. I’m horrified. Good luck with you school search! (There is a preschool fair this Wednesday, let me know if you want the info.)

Emma October 19, 2009 at 10:48 pm

As the mother of two boys, I totally appreciated the tortures and torments of Max in the movie, trying to figure out where he fit, the dichotomy of the acute calm observer and the wild rumpuser.
I wish we all had sadness shields for our boys!
You are doing the best you can. Good luck.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) October 20, 2009 at 12:25 am

I’m sorry that the therapist actually found something but at the same time I’m sure it’s at least a small relief to know – finally know – what has been going on. I hope you can find a school that is a better fit. School should be a fun place to go – a place for kids to have fun and learn. Good luck!

rebecca October 20, 2009 at 3:36 am

I know I don’t comment much, but I read every day. And I just want you to know that you guys are in my thoughts, and i am sending prayers/good vibes your way. You both will get through this.

Life As I Know It October 20, 2009 at 11:39 am

I’m sorry you are going through this. It seems as if things have gotten so much more complicated these days. Our kiddos our SO young and have so many expectations made of them so soon. You know what? They ALL catch up to eachother at some point. They shouldn’t all have to be a the same developmental stage at exactly the same time.
Makes me angry and frustrated at this new system that seems to be in place. They’re all different – we should embrace that.

Andrea October 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Jodi, I can’t believe that we never talked about these things! He sounds just like Logan. OT will make a world of difference for him, I promise! I can’t tell you how it made a difference for Logan and it pains me that we cannot get him covered for continued services. Hopefully, I will have a new job soon and we can get the therapy started all over again.

BananaBlueberry October 20, 2009 at 6:25 pm

okay, you can deal with this
You can deal with anything, but you know what I mean)
progress, amen :)

DemMom October 21, 2009 at 12:42 pm

We have friends who say the same thing about their son’s first grade class/teacher. His spirit was broken, he thought he was stupid. So they put him in a private school (even though he all left the city and moved to the freakin’ suburbs so our kids could go to “good” public schools for free) and his whole world/personality has changed. It’s amazing what one teacher/class/school can do. But you can reverse it. Hang in there.

Ariel November 3, 2009 at 6:23 pm

My brother will be 15 and can’t tie his shoelaces or do simple things like that. The school’s diagnosis here in Idaho?
“There’s nothing wrong with him, he’s lazy and if his mother stayed home instead of working then he’d be fine.”
I cannot tell you for how many years we’ve been seeking help for him, and how much money my parents have been paying to try and get a diagnosis. FOR YEARS.
SOB.
I’m so sorry for any bullshit the public school systems put you through. Truly I am.

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