Is this thing on?

So here I am, blogging.  I’ve never been a diary or journal writer so this is entirely new ground for me.  But I find myself with so many swirling thoughts and questions lately that I need to find a mechanism to lay it all out.  Hopefully by taking a look at it I can start to make sense of it all.

You see, I am the mother of a 4 year old that may have Aspergers.  Then again, he may have sensory integration dysfunction.  Or he just has some communication delays, is sensory seeking, he’s high energy, he is just a boy, he’s just plain quirky.  I’ve heard all these theories in the past few months.   I have no objection to any of them, really.  I just want to understand my son so I can help others understand him too.

We’ve always known that the G-man is different from other kids.  From an infant he was constantly moving.  He wouldn’t sleep unless we were bouncing, swinging, rocking or walking him.  As he got older he would put himself to sleep by picking up his legs and slamming him down on his mattress over and over, like a whale splashing it’s tail in the ocean.  At 2 I gave up trying to stop him from jumping on the sofa and instead bought him an exercise trampoline to redirect him.  It became his favorite activity and spent hours each day bouncing.  The grandparents quickly bought trampolines for their homes so G could channel his energy when we visited.  His language development was always within a few months of normal in that he developed the proper amount of words and articulated them in an age appropriate way.  He hit his major milestones, he showed affection and made eye contact when prompted. 

But at the playgroup we were in from birth – 3 he rarely made many attempts to play with the other kids, instead choosing an independent activity that he could sit quietly and focus on for the 2 hours each week.  He preferred flipping a toy over to figure out how it worked rather than playing with it in it’s intended manner.  He had a short fuse and would strike out at the other children if they wanted to play with his toy.  He rarely expressed himself verbally or initiated conversation.  The only way we could get him to talk was to quiz him on things he knew.  He is a very fact oriented kind of kid – we thought he’d grow up to be an engineer or scientist.

Knowing that he needed help with his social skills, we enrolled him in preschool.  We even went so far as to move to a nearby town because they have an incredible Mont.essori preschool.   We picked that program specifically because they have long work cycles – G gets frustrated when he has to move to another activity before he is ready – and they emphasize getting along and cooperating with peers.  They don’t hold a child to a specific cirriculum, instead they let a child learn at their own pace.  G was, and still is, incredibly smart.  He knew his upper and lower case letters before he turned 3, shortly after he turned 3 he started recognizing sight words and by 4 he understood phonetics and could sound out words and read on his own.  His comprehension of what he read was incredible too.  He could count well over 100 and could add simple numbers.  We thought the preschool would be a great way to supplement what we were trying to teach him at home.

  But it didn’t go as well as I had hoped, and my expectations were pretty low.  He did great with the routine and structure of the program, did well with picking an activity and working on it throughout the morning, was fantastic with the academic lessons and loved the songs they sang.  He didn’t do very well with the social aspects and often got in trouble for hitting or pushing and had problems with being clumsy with the kids, for example, bumping into other children during circle time or when lining up.  He had no sense of personal space and upset the other children by leaning into their faces.  His teacher, who is wonderful, was frustrated because she could never anticipate when G was going to get physical with the other kids.  The Monte.ssori philosophy is heavy on empathizing with children so when G would get in trouble they’d go through the routine of trying to get him to understand why what he did was wrong.  He’d say all the right things, but it was as if he was reciting a script.  It seemed he had no innate sense of empathy.

Finally we had all exhausted what we knew to do and the teacher suggested calling in the school system psychologist.  She came in and observed G a couple of times, made some suggestions for getting him to interact with other kids and suggested a Stanley Greenspan book to us.  This was near the end of the school year though so there wasn’t a ton that could be done by this point.  But we read the book and worked hard over the summer to implement the strategies and I truly thought we were making lots of progress.

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Published in: on November 17, 2007 at 5:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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