My oldest son starts Kindergarten in two days. I’m so scared for him. He’s had an IEP since before he was three. He has a mixed expressive receptive language disorder and words like sensory integration, autism and pdd-nos have been thrown around for quite some time. While the first label is a clear fit and is clear in meaning, the last two (often used interchangeably) I’ve been fighting because I just don’t think they fit. Yes, everyone thinks I’m crazy but tell me.. how many autistic little boys know when to tell their mother she’s pretty? or see a strange mom with a stroller struggling with a door and run to help her? or can redirect their little brother to a safer activity with a word and a hand without adult prompting? Yes, something is different about this child beyond the speech disorder but I’m not convinced its autism.
Still, whatever it is causes significant issues for him. His hands are weak (as are mine). He tires easily. His fine motor skills are behind. His gross motor skills are behind. His speech is behind (his baby brother uses language at least as well as he does though the concepts the baby expresses are simplistic compared to my oldest). His self care skills are behind. He’s just very young… younger than a just turned five year old should be in my mind. I could spend days talking with his teacher, the principal, the speech therapist, the school psychiatrist, the occupational therapist and the janitor for hours, they don’t have the time and I’m pretty sure that there are something I don’t have the words to express. And while I tell the staff about things like meltdowns, aggression, frustration, the IEP and how hard it is to express himself, that’s not what really eats at me.
I am afraid he won’t make friends. Or if he does, he won’t be able to keep them. It is so hard to understand what he’s talking about. He could be thinking about some movie and telling you all about it but if you don’t know what movie he’s talking about, you are lost. It’s hard to talk with someone when he’s only able to tell you half of the story and uses words oddly in the process. It’s hard to talk to someone if you aren’t sure if they are listening. It’s hard to talk with someone when he sometimes interchanges she and he, yes and no.
I am afraid he will be a target. I am terrified that at some point some kid is going to hear him talk and then “Retard”, “stupid!”, “dummy”, or “baby.” I don’t know what he would do or if he would even understand. Of course, maybe it has already happened at daycare and I just wasn’t told. Maybe he will yell or hit or bit. Maybe he will just stand there confused. What if someone starts to bully him? I don’t even know if he knows how to tell someone.
I am afraid he just won’t try. I hear the words “I can’t” and “I need help” all the time. He can’t buckle his pants. He can put some of his shoes on but won’t try most of the time. He says he needs help to put on his underwear.. a task he’s been able to accomplish for almost two years. He can count to 30 but tells me he can’t. He can read some words but tells me he can’t. He can write his name but wants me to hold his hand. He’s afraid to try.
I am afraid I missed something else. I missed his hearing loss. I missed the speech disorder blaming it on the hearing loss. What else is wrong that I am missing? Why does he hate to walk any distance? Is it boredom? Is he just not conditioned to it? He barely picks up his feet, shuffling along. Why can’t he hold a pencil properly? Why can’t he button his pants or securely grasp a zipper?
The worst part is that because the first special education teachers had such a negative evaluation of him I’ve been left with this feeling that I have to protect him from people underestimating him, that if I allow things to progress at his pace he will be in a home (yes, that’s a gross exaggeration.. more likely my basement). I feel like I have to stand between him and the dark future that bitch saw for him. I’m not going to give up and let him become an adult who can only read at the 6th grade level. He’s smart. So smart.
Yes, I know how neurotic I am.