So, I'm sitting here this morning, outside the speech teacher's room at the elementary school where Owen will go next year. I'm watching all the kids file in for the start of the school day and it's suddenly easy to imagine my beloved boy marching through these same halls in just a matter of months. But also, really difficult. Because I worry about him and how he will conform to all the rules of a "big kid" school.
Although he turned five this past summer (the age that the state of Georgia requires attendance in kindergarten, as I was repeatedly informed shortly after our move), his dad and I decided to stick with our plan of enrolling him in pre-k to give him the advantage of an extra year of growth and maturity. In order to do that, we had to find a private school (in our case, a preschool/day care facility) that would accept him in their pre-k program at the age of five. And despite my reservations, I've been pleased with the Georgia state-funded pre-k program and his teacher. It's a lot like the preschool setting he's familiar with, but it's five days a week, full days, and the curriculum seems to still challenge him.
So why am I sitting outside the speech teacher (or specialist?) office at the public elementary school? To be followed by an appointment with the "Instructional Support Teacher" (whatever that is) and later, the school psychologist?
Because we're trying to get to the bottom of things. Of Owen's behavior problems. Of his emotional instability. Of his gross motor struggles. To name a few.
And as I type that out, it occurs to me that you might be thinking, "what five-year-old doesn't have difficulty with all of those things?" And that's certainly valid. But let's just say that I know - and have known for some time - that Owen's struggles go just a bit beyond the boundaries of what is normal for his age.
After a turbulent summer, we have decided to pursue the assistance of occupational therapy to help address our concerns. We're starting there and will remain open to any/all suggestions, referrals, and outcomes.
The public schools offer free assistance with such matters, assuming he qualifies for the program (and a subsequent IEP), which is why we are here today.
In addition to the individual assessments performed by the three persons mentioned above, his pre-k teacher and I have also filled out evaluation forms that asked us to describe Owen's behavior (on a scale of never/sometimes/often/always) with things like, "has a short attention span" (always), "disrupts the play of other children" (always), "seems to take setbacks in stride" (never), "is easily soothed when angry" (never), "seems unaware of others" (always), "has poor self-control" (always), "is easily distracted" (always), "annoys others on purpose" (always), etc. I could go on, but I just picked out a few that struck me (these were from his teacher's version) of the 100+ questions.
I also have an appointment with a private OT next week because, regardless of whether he tests into the school's assistance program, I still feel he can benefit from working with a professional.
I thought about posting some examples of specific behavior or situations that exemplify my concerns, but decided against it for now. And besides, most of my readers (if I still have any) know all about it and have likely even witnessed it themselves. (His explosive behavior leaves an impression on most who witness it.)
My prayer for Owen is that he would find peace within his own head, heart, and body. And that he would know that his mom and dad here on earth, and his Heavenly Father above, love him from the deepest parts of our hearts. And we always will.