Sunday, February 19, 2012

One Little Thing to Remember

Quite a week...I don't even know where to begin...other than, I am glad that it is over...

Little Miss M has had quite a hard time adjusting to her new classroom.  I have a great deal of support in the new classroom, and for that I am thankful.  Little Miss M is still hitting and kicking...and now added biting to the mix.  Yes, she has bitten me before...but she bit another classmate.  I stepped out of the room to use the restroom (I should be allowed to go, right?!?!?) and left her in the care of the teacher.  The teacher assured me that she would keep her eyes on her.  Well, Little Miss M is as fast as lightning.  The teacher said that she had never seen a bite like the one Little Miss M gave this little boy. 

I have to take a deep breath and remember that Little Miss M has special needs.

Yes, it took me awhile to realize that children on the Autism Spectrum are special needs.  MY child has special needs.

Of all people who helped me realize this, it is my one of my current bosses/supervisors.  Wait, I don't even think of my bosses as bosses or supervisors.  I love my job so much, and I love the people (and children) that I work with so much, I think of them as friends.  Anyway, it took one simple sentence from her that made it finally click.

I was in the interview for the job I ultimately took with the school district.  I was originally interviewing to be a before/after school Para for a fourth grade girl who was in a wheelchair.  Turns out that the girl's parents did not enroll her in before/after school care, BUT I was given a job as facilitator for the second grade group before school.

I digress.

In the interview, one of my supervisors asked if I was familiar with the work that a Para does.  I said that I had a little bit of knowledge.  I explained how my son started preschool in the district at age 3, and how he started because of his speech, OT and PT needs, and that he had access to a Para.  Somewhere along the line, I must have mentioned that he was diagnosed with Asperger's.  We got to talking about that, and at one point my (future) supervisor said "I understand what it is like to be the parent of a child with special needs.  My daughter has Down's Syndrome".

Huh???  Special needs???  Little Man taught himself to read at three.  He dresses himself.  He feeds himself.  He talks.  He is happy and healthy.  He doesn't have special needs.  I thought I was destined to work with children (especially preschoolers) with special needs.  But Little Man, special needs???  I did not see it.

I smiled politely and nodded...though I felt like I was punched in the gut.  I could not imagine what this woman goes through.  HER child was truly (what my definition of it was) special needs.  Her little girl needed help and compassion.  MY child is just another kid.

On the (less-than-five-minute) drive home, I realized it.  I knew that Little Man was "different" from other kids his age and that yes, he needed help with things {all-things-social}.  I guess you could say that he is special needs.  He has needs that are different than a typically-developing child.

So, for as smart and capable that Little Man and Little Miss M are, they have needs.  I have to reassure Little Man that "every little thing is gonna be alright" (to quote Bob Marley) and I can't be out of arm's reach {or take my eyes off for a second} of Little Miss M.

Little Man was seen by {yet another} psychologist that recommended "intense, outpatient therapy" to help him deal with his anxiety, fears, phobias and OCD.  I was not able to go to this appointment because of work (I couldn't get a sub who wanted to work with Little Miss M...this just so happened to be the day of The Bite, too).  Big Daddy said that the doctor asked him if we were going to "let this continue to rule our lives?" if we didn't consider the therapy for him.  Hmmm, I hadn't thought of it that way.  Really put it in perspective.

It is going to be a (continued) roller coaster ride.  I am going to grab on and enjoy it...if I can.

Love to All.

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