Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our little Jekyll and Hyde.

Last Friday I talked to SS's teachers and got a heck of a surprise. The good news is that they both find SS "extremely well behaved." HUH? Are we talking about our very own Tasmanian Devil? The same child that we can't leave alone for long for fear that she'll burn the house down? The same child who terrorizes not only her parents but her adult brother? Apparently that same child is pulling the ultimate stunt at school. They could not stop gushing about she is the best behaved kid that they have taught. Excuse me while I scream... WTF? Most parents would be beaming after such disgusting praise, but with SS's history this is not good. She is simply blending into the background and not rocking the boat. This is the fastest way to fall between the cracks.

The bad news is that our chatter box is a mute at school. The teachers were discussing how SS listens, has had to be redirected just once (the day she whacked what we are sure was a well deserving child), began following the routine within days of enrollment and is just a freaking dream (puke). The next logical question was other than the $^*%$#@ potty training issue what is keeping SS from moving on to the next class. That is when I really was blown away by the response, look how long it has taken me to be able to write about it. According to the teachers, SS does NOT have a "vocab." First, if I am relying on you to help my child learn and speak, how about using the appropriate words. Her teachers stated that SS has not spoken more than five words in the three months she has been there. Plus, those words were coaxed out of her, she did not spontaneously speak. My first though was where the hell have they been when SS greeted me by screaming "Mama you came back!" Well, that is four words after all.

Next question was how in hell they communicate with our daughter if she does not speak. Since SS is a model student, knows her routine, listens and is freaking complaint, there is not much need to talk to her. In other words, we have been shelling out money for preschool, but SS is simply dumped into daycare. That hurt big time. Also, when SS was so anxious about us returning for her, did anyone bother to reassure her that her parents always return? The funny thing is that the day before P and I were discussing how to advocate for moving SS and what solutions we could offer to help. P said that they would not willingly let her go based on his observations when he drooped by unannounced. I really thought the dude was kidding. Who knew he had hit the nail on the head.

We are not deaf and our love for our children does not blind us to their reality. P got a crash course when he foolishly insisted on co-parenting a special needs child with me. Advocating for JJ was hell on wheels and I won't lie when I say that P's help was an amazing relief. He was young, but he had a way of commanding attention and respect. Also let's face it, it did help that he is white. This is not my sole observation, P learned this quickly as well. Angry white dude received immediate attention, rational Hispanic woman was made to wait indefinitely.

I made the mistake of calling P as soon as I got SS buckled up. Really huge mistake, because once again P took this a lot harder than I expected. He was and is still devastated. Again, we know that SS is very difficult to understand, but the girl really only began to speak this summer. SS did not qualify for Early Intervention Services (County program) and that did not surprise us at all. EI was a thorn on my side when I advocated for children who really needed their help. A child must have a 20% delay in three areas to qualify. That day SS did things with Crayons and markers that we had not see her do before and have not seen since. They do have limited resources that are better spent on the parents on government aid, and not on someone whose parents are on the ball. Such is life, and now SS is too old for EI (age limit is 3).

That brings up the public school district again. It was one of my greatest fears and we are not unfamiliar with how they work. As soon as the Holidays are over we need to schedule a speech evaluation for SS. Yippee!!!!! I am afraid that my child will be labeled and once that label is in writing it is difficult to shake. We will not be accepting the teachers' suggestion that the evaluation be done at school. No freaking way that is happening. We want it done at home where SS is comfortable. At least we might be able to get more than five freaking words out of her.

After a very depressing lunch later that day, where I shot the funniest video of SS not talking, I reached out to my early childhood development specialist. Michelle has 17 years of experience with the preschool crowd (no idea how she survived). My request was simple, should we be freaking out, and we did NOT want to be reassured that all would be OK with time, we wanted brutal honesty.

It seems that it is not unusual for children to play the mute card for months at school. She also understands our concerns about SS getting lost in the shuffle. It also does not make sense to leave a "delayed child" (how I hate that label) among non verbal two year olds. If SS can handle the classroom structure and discipline in the junior room she should be there. BTW, we are still standing behind our choice of preschool. If SS was attending SJ (2nd choice) we are sure it would have taken even longer for us to be made aware of her mute status. Michelle, again, thanks for taking the time to review our posted videos and for your support. As you know we don't trust just anyone with JJ and SS.

What now? We wait, we wait and we stew, because it sucks. When JJ was evaluated on his third birthday, it was done to prove that he had a severe intellectual delay. They simply though he was mentally retarded (the term used then). I was stunned when IQ testing placed JJ in the top 3% of the population. Trust me, neither his bio father nor I had a thing to do with his IQ. It had to be Mami and Papi. Still a high IQ does not equate educational success. We have always stated that we prefer a hard worker over a intellectually superior child. At the end of the day you get what you put into your education. JJ has yet to reach a point when he wants a degree, and we hope he gets there soon.

But this is about SS now, although we have a lot of battle scars from our days of advocating for JJ. Except that we now have the opposite problem, our child is too well behaved for her own good. JJ started school in September of 1986, at three years and six months of age. SS started preschool just one month behind her brother. At the time JJ's program was a full day program, a heck of a lot for a child that young, and with attention span issues. We are not willing to do the same with SS at this time. Should we be grateful that SS is well behaved? I don't think so.

We are not worried about SS testing as intellectually delayed; a speech delay, certainly, it was expected. Most of SS's enunciation mishaps come from being fed by the gravity method. It is one of the many problems we expected to encounter with a post institutionalized child. We read, we researched, we talked, we thought we prepared. But nothing really prepares you to hear bad news. We'll roll with the punches as we have done before. Then there is SS's ever growing fear about the potty, so angry at whatever happened at the SWI.

Last but not least is the elephant in the room, I am the common denominator between my children (at the same age). Allow me to introduce myself, I am K and I mess up children. For what is worth, JJ really was playing mute. He could not care less about speaking, and when he did I wished I had never had him evaluated.

Because Holidays are the best time to received bad news, I am struggling with Bowel Hell again. Pain, fever, puking, more pain, more fever and even more puking. YUCK.

This video was taken Friday as we were waiting for P. I was obviously distracted because I did not notice SS grabbing the coupons from the nice lady at the entrance. Only when SS made a very specific request did I snap back into reality and started filming.

This morning, we are biased, but we heard more than five words.

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