Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The evidence of history (successful ttc mentioned)

It is IEP time, Individualized Education Plan time for Scott. Monday we met with his adviser (that's what they call teachers at the charter school) and with his special education teacher.

This is dovetailing nicely with my exploration of a new practitioner to follow Scott's adhd and his medication. Gary and I met with her, just the two of us, 10 or 12 days ago. Friday we took both Scott and Connor so she could observe their interactions (and they obliged by deteriorating in front of her at the end of our hour long session). Last night was a session with just Gary and me.

One of the questions on the blue form--I forget its name, but it's a standard behavioral assessment form which gives indicators of what kinds of behaviors we're dealing with...inattentive, hyperactive, oppositional, defiant, compulsive, anxious--one of the questions was if he was having trouble academically at school. And when did it start?

I realized we're talking about two schools. He started kindergarten in our neighborhood school, and I transferred him to the charter school in January of first grade. I realized I wasn't sure how to answer the questionnaire, because at the neighborhood school his academic problems began in kindergarten...yet, his issues at Trillium were not being described in terms of 'academics'. No one's saying he's 'not at grade level' in reading, math, as if it's a "problem".

The occasion of a new school year, new special ed practitioners, a new teacher and a new classroom (he's 'graduated' from a Kindergarten-through-2nd-grade classroom to a 3,4,5 room) has challenged the part of my brain that wants to describe my intuitions about Scott. This classroom is conducted at a more mature level--it assumes a certain independence and capability of a student. Is this a place where Scott will be able to orient himself and get with the swim, or will he flounder and drown? In three years will he come out hopelessly behind? In other words, should it be a 'problem' that he's not at grade level? Am I being negligent if I'm not worried?

One of the ways I described Scott is that he is someone who is so captivated with the details of the first step, that a 5 mile hike is completely beyond him. This puts him in a totally different context than his peers who may be a mile, or two, into the hike. They may be oriented to a 5 mile hike. Scott is not. His adviser nodded when I made this analogy.

I'm remembering the children's book I used to read to the boys, "Leo the Late Bloomer". Leo's progress was only a problem for people who were waiting for him.

This kid has always kept me waiting. The mornings are an ordeal of our mis-matched paces. I stand, tapping my foot, as he oh-so-slowly puts on his sock. Then---the---other.

I used to joke that going somewhere was nearly impossible because Scott had managed to break getting into the van into a 50-step process that he lingered over --each and every one of those 50 steps. (First he opens the door. Then he gazes into the open door, slowly reaching for and scratching a spot on his leg. Finishes scratching. Oh, wait; it itches again. Scratches some more. Now the knee is lifting, lifting, the foot gliding forward. Wait. There's something on his shoe. He has to bend to examine it. Closely. Touch it. Now that he's down there there's something on the floor of the car he hasn't seen before. He needs to look at that, pick it up, there in the posture of one foot inside the van, the rest of him still planted outside.)

For a long time he was on a car model jag. We couldn't walk through a parking lot or down a street with parked cars without having to stop at each one so I could tell him what kind it was. It got worse when he added to the obsession the question of how much they cost. His preschool teachers described walking a group of twenty of them across a crosswalk on a busy street, cars waiting, and he and two other 3 year olds having to stop in the middle to settle a furious dispute of which of them was going to get to hold the little girl's hand. This is urgent, people.

It occurred to me in a flash yesterday that this kid has kept me waiting for signs of progress since birth. Oh, HELL no, he kept me waiting--for his very conCEPTion.

Connor was conceived on our first try after an early miscarriage (which was conceived on our second cycle of trying) when I was nearly 40. It never occurred to me that when we were ready to try for a second it might not happen so easily. I'd heard a three year spread was ideal and so
didn't even consider the wisdom of waiting. Connor turned two. We moved to St. Louis. We got settled in and started to try.

And nothing happened.

I went to a regular OB with an 'interest' in infertility. Tried two rounds of clomid. Moved on to an RE. Went through the diagnostics, which our insurance would cover; treatment it would not. Went another round of clomid with an IUI. We were living on one income and decided to gamble on one super-cycle--injectable fertility drugs with monitoring, trigger shot, and another IUI. This was one year after we moved to St. Louis. We put the meds and ultra-sounds on a credit card and rolled the dice.

So for a year we lived in limbo: would we be a one-child family, or would we realize our dream for another? I had a resource I hadn't had in 1996 when ttc Connor--the Internet--and it was a 2-edged sword: I'd been blissfully unaware of what an anomaly it was to conceive Connor so easily at 40. Now I realized what I'd been flirting with, and that there was no reason I'd be able to realize my dream when there were so many couples whose dreams were denied. With Scott I was totally in the dark until he was conceived after our one-shot IUI.

He kept me waiting for his birth. His due date coincided with the last of an unseasonably cool early summer in St. Louis, after which it got hellishly hot and humid. It also coincided with the visit of my parents and niece, so crowding a small house (single bathroom) with people waiting, waiting, and watching. At nearly 45 a passed due date was a worry for the OB, and probably for my parents as well. Who knows if all the expectant anxiety around the delay didn't lengthen it? A week passed, and we scheduled the c-section. The OB said, "The signs aren't favorable" (for a vaginal birth after caesarian). Without telling her I slipped in an Evening Primrose suppository and whispered, "Scott, if you want to come in the normal way, you've got to give us a sign."

The thing is, the signs WERE there, they were just too subtle for everyone around him. Part of what had resulted in Connor's c-section was that he was facing ventrally in utero. Scott was positioned just fine, but that fact got lost in the other facts--no progress in dilation, no rupture of amniotic fluid, a week overdue. The fact that I was having miserable diarrhea all day was lost on everyone. The story ended with his vaginal birth that very night, after a two-hour and ten minute labor.

Scott makes his connections in secret, far below the radar of the people who watch, and wait. This is his pattern. One year I worried because he did not seem to be 'getting' the notion of a calendar measuring time passing. It seemed to mean nothing to him. If I had 'tested' him I would have only been more anxious. Then, suddenly, he was meaningfully referencing times of year, and months. I'd had no indication he was putting it together, until I noticed him talking about it. He talked about it so naturally, and so matter-of-factly, that it was as if he'd always known it.

So in talking with his teacher and special ed teacher what was coming through was my anxiety that the classroom might be over his head and he might be drowning. Rob said, "This year I have a lot of third graders, and he's not the only one who is spacey. This is where we can appreciate the luxury of time. I have him for three years. With three years I can say to a child, 'Let's... hang... out. Let me get to know you, and you to know me. You'll figure it out, and take as much time as you need figuring it out.' Some kids spend all of third grade figuring it out. He won't be lost, because there is a certain funneling. Whether he can go somewhere independently or not right now, the current of the class takes him there regardless."

Holy shit, can I really just relax? Perhaps the heavy lifting of my job was to find him a place where he does have the luxury of the time to figure out things on his own, and make his connections in his private, inaccessible places. At the neighborhood school his skills, particularly his math, would be an academic problem, because the window with which he is supposed to demonstrate progress is so short.

And, I see that I have the weight of his history as evidence--he is going to develop in his own time, in his own way, independently of the priorities of others. He's in the right place.


Mrs. Spit said...

What a spectacular teacher, and way to teach!

Lavender Luz said...

Rob is a blessing.

I love how you really try to get into Scott's world and see the way he sees, as alien as it is to you.

Question: is he reading? Well?

Wordgirl said...

Hi there,

I love reading your thoughtful posts. I am brought so powerfully THERE.

I have many of these same questions -- but W is now in fourth grade -- and we have kept him in the same school where he has been demonstrating some bafflingly low testing scores in reading when he has such verbal agility when you meet him -- what on earth is going on with his test scores? He scores in the 93rd percentile in math -- but one component of his reading (comprehension maybe) was in the 38th percentile.

He's been tested for adhd -and that wasn't identified as the issue -- but the teacher still mentions how he's one of the few in class who has to get up and walk around -- so easily distracted -- your description of Scott's getting into the car made me laugh -- only because it's so familliar -- it usually takes his father's bellowing close to anger to get him to MOVE....

it sounds like you've found a wonderful place for Scott -- and I think that if we found a school whose processes I felt aligned with I'd be more likely to be able to stop worrying about where he is vs. where he 'should' be.

And thank you for all your kindnesses. I did get the book on breastfeeding you suggested -- and let me tell you I am hoping we won't have houseguests when the baby comes -- luckily my brother's recent blow-out with my mother means he won't be visiting any time soon...

I'm thinking of you a lot and read often even if I"m sort of a lame-o commenter lately.



excavator said...

Hi, Mrs. Spit. It's funny how it was under my nose the whole time--that he was with the teacher he needed to be with, in the setting he needs to be--a place that provides the time he needs to develop his connections undisturbed. And I didn't even see it.

Hi, LL. Thank you...sadly, I don't think to get behind his eyes and see the world the way he sees it often enough. It's one of the ways I fail him. Because when I do tune in, he usually is telling me important stuff pretty plainly. He does read, and interestingly his style is very consistent with the rest of how he learns and demonstrates. He does not decode in the traditional sense...breaking words down into fragments and then isolating the sounds of those fragments and then putting those sounds together and integrating them back into a word. That process seems overwhelming to him. Instead, heseems to match the sight of the first part of a word to his memory and make a guess basedon that. He doesn't seem to use the last part of a word as part of his cueing. Still, once he has a word as a sight word he uses it pretty reliably. And, he reads with a conversational flow, a natural fluency, rather than robotic speaking of words. He can easily read Arnold Lobel's "Frog and Toad" books, which are rated in the grades 1-3 category. So he's not too far behind in reading, I don't think. I'd say that most children his age are able to use the decoding skill better than him, but it just doesn't seem to be his style. ...Why do you ask?

Hi, Pam! Hey, I forgot to comment on your nursery, which looks absolutely beautiful! A bright, happy place to bring your daughter home to.

Does W's teacher give him the space to get up and walk around a little when he needs it?

I think there are some kids that are easier to test, and get reliable indicators of their learning, than others. Does W like to read; does he like stories read TO him?

Thanks for stopping by.

Aunt Becky said...

He is Ben. Did you know that? He is Ben. They're beautiful, just as they are. Marching to the beat of their very different drummers.

Quiet Dreams said...

It's always about letting go, isn't it? Letting go of control, letting go...

Nothing really intelligent to add, I just love reading what you have written. I hope that you can abide in that peaceful place you seemed to leave us in at the end of this post.

excavator said...

Hi, Aunt Becky, and Quiet Dreams.

Thank you for the breath of quiet peace I got from reading your responses today.