Monday, October 10, 2011

My Sensational Son

My son Phoenix has been the topic of many of my posts but for those of you who haven't followed me for long or just stumbled on this post, I'll give you a little background:

Phoenix is five, going on sixteen. He's smart, funny and incredibly coordinated. He's generally a total joy to have around & even when he's having a bad day, the urge to strangle him isn't that bad. His biggest challenge has been, is and will continue to be speech. 

We don't know what's behind his speech problem but our three biggest "suspects" are his skull fracture at seven months old, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and central auditory processing disorder (CAP). Obviously, the traumatic brain injury is Number One on the list and I feel strongly it could be the root of all the problems. SPD is Number Two because he exhibits so many symptoms! Lastly, his paternal uncle was diagnosed & treated for CAP so we know there's a family history there.

We've been incredibly pro-active in getting him help; he's been in some form of speech since he was two-and-a-half but progress has been painfully slow. When he started Kindergarten this year, things came to a head. We had behavior problems we've never had before; running away from teachers, hiding under tables, punching his teacher in the face. He was put on half-days and given daily "progress reports"; if he earned five smiley faces during the day, he got to stay for lunch but after six or eight weeks, he's only "earned" lunch three or four times.

I simply refuse to sit by and watch my child wither in a classroom setting that doesn't suit him or his needs so I called for an IEP. On Friday, I met with his teacher, his principal, his Speech Language Pathologist and a placement specialist from the school district to figure out a game plan. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it wasn't Me vs. Them; it was more Us vs The Placement Specialist. She was against placing him in another class without exhausting the resources available at his school, which I am more than willing to do if it benefits Phoenix. 

We discussed the behavior problems, the possible sensory issues and decided to implement some new things into his day. Since he frequently hides under the table in the Rainbow Room, where the kids keep their coats & backpacks, we talked about letting him sit in the Reading Corner whenever he's feeling overwhelmed. The school has an Occupational Therapy room on site too so there's a possibility we could get him weekly OT and incorporate a "sensory diet" into his day. There was also talk of a Behavioralist and medication, which is a dirty word in my world.

After an hour and a half, I felt like we'd reached a good compromise: keep him where he is; give him more help, more services; follow up with outside resources (like his doctor and the speech & hearing clinic at Sacramento State); meet back in December. The only option the placement specialist was willing to do, was a class that's two years behind his current curriculum. Let me make it clear, here & now, that my son is NOT mentally handicapped; he just can't figure out how to make his mouth work properly. 

I stayed after to talk with his teacher, speech pathologist and principal. Then I stayed a little longer to talk with his speech pathologist who also happens to have a daughter with SPD. Then I stayed even longer to talk with his teacher; we decided to drop the Smiley stickers and just give his day an overall rating of "Good" or "Bad", in the hopes that he will be able to stay for lunch more often and with the idea that he needs to be working towards a full school-day. 

I'm so happy to report that our first day with this new plan was amazingly successful. Phoenix used the Reading Corner as a quiet spot instead of hiding under tables; he did all his work and didn't bother his classmates; he listen to his teacher and all the parents volunteering. He got to stay for lunch today and was very excited about playing with his friends. The weather has been CRAZY & today was super stormy so when I picked him up after lunch, everyone was watching WordWorld.  

We talked about how his day went while he put on his coat & grabbed his backpack. His day was AWESOME!, he said and as we walked ran out to the Jeep, he said "Tomorrow's gonna be awesome too, Mom." 

That's my plan, Little Man. To help you make every day AWESOME! 

Fishing with Dad on Father's Day 2011


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