Our Life with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Part 2
It has come blazingly apparent that I need to continue sharing our story with sensory processing disorder. Catch up with Part 1 (the early years) first.
I enrolled Chaddy into a Montessori school when he turned 18 months old. They offered a positive program for toddlers with less Montessori-style practices (i.e.: the kids aren’t allowed to choose ALL of the activities). My daughter attended a fine (but different) true Montessori school previously and I feel it really advanced her understanding of math and self-management.
But that did not happen for my son. Not. at. all. Not the entire year he was there. Not ever.
In the beginning, his teacher felt he needed more, much more, supervision than other kids his age. He would cry, tantrum, and have a hard time with separation anxiety — all the typical behaviors.
He would also spit. Bite. Kick. Hit. Slam. Throw. Scream. Pull hair. Hurt you. Hurt himself. And make his self quite the nuisance. He also had a vocabulary of two words: no and mommy. And anyone could argue that that too was predictable behavior for a child nearing two.
Except none of the other kids in his classroom exhibited the same behaviors. And the teacher, and her assistants, and eventually the Director would continue to tell me so after I realized there was something wrong.
One particular day in the middle of his enrollment, I walked into his classroom to find a single assistant trying to manage 7 little ones playing floor games. The 8th, my child, was crying feverishly under a chair screaming his heart out. And the assistant was sitting on the chair, over him, with her legs crossed in a way SO HE COULDN’T GET OUT! Essentially, he was being caged.
When I’ve shared the story with others, they ask “why didn’t you beat her up? I wouldn’t have been able to not hurt her.”
I don’t beat anyone up. Though I seriously considered it. What parent wouldn’t?
I asked her to get off of him and she proceeded to share why she felt the need to cage him, “he was acting crazy, hitting other kids, really trying to hurt them. Everyone. I didn’t know what else to do.”
She obviously didn’t understand a lot. In life.
Long story short, too late, the event demanded a quick meeting with Chaddy’s real teacher (the assistant was dismissed), and both the VP and Director of the school. That’s when they recommended that my son needed an assessment for a developmental delay. I scheduled an appointment with the city’s assessment team immediately.
Teachers have told me that the conversation of developmental delays with parents is the hardest conversation you can have as a professional. So, I tried to put my own heartbreak aside for him and really understand the issues they experienced with him.
Looking back, I know exactly what was wrong! The daily activities were too over stimulating for him. The kids’ close proximity during circle time in combination with the teacher’s voices were too strong for his hypersensitive auditory senses. He needed much more vestibular and proprioceptive sensory balance — basically he needed tons of movement and joint compression.
And without that kind of management, he would be the kind of kid who was “easy to love but hard to raise.” So off we went to our scheduled assessment.
His assessment offered no help. The facilitators who tested him pointed the finger at the school and felt his teacher was not qualified enough. She WAS qualified but in hindsight, he was really too young (just over two at the time) for an assessment.
We revisited his pediatrician who examined him for autism (and everything else under the sun). And nothing. She felt he was fine, delayed ever-so slightly, but not enough. His speech was cause for concern but after the assessment, everyone felt it was best to give his speech development more time. And I concurred.
So after many stressful afternoons and negative reports during pick up, I pulled him out. I couldn’t deal. The Director of the school REALLY went out of her way to train her staff to work with him. And she saw how willing I was to give him the help, any help, that would HELP!
But Chaddy’s self-confidence started to noticeably plummet. He would cry and scream as soon as we made the turn towards the school. He couldn’t communicate what was wrong but I knew something deep was wrong. And I just knew I wanted him home with me where he’d be safe from this world that seemed so much to hurt him in ways none of us could understand. Those were absolutely my darkest days as a parent because I had no idea what was wrong, how to help him, or who could help us find the answer. Even his doctor was perplexed and felt keeping him out of daycare or a school program was best until time revealed the clues.
In Part III, we finally received the biggest missing piece of the puzzle.