3 1/2 year old Formal Daycare/Preschool or not?
by Colleen Devlin
My son is 3 1/2. He has been in a daycare/preschool environment since he was 3 months old. About 8 to 9 months ago, my son was diagnosed with SPD (over-sensitive and sensory seeking). He is currently getting OT appointments once a week. On a scale of 1-10 (where 10 is full blown worst case of SPD he/she has ever seen and 1 is that the child does not have it all), his primary doctor thinks Connor is a 1, but he prescribed OT because I pushed. The OT thinks my son is a 2, 3 or 4. I think he is a 4 or 5. His teacher thinks he is a 10. Let's be honest we all are dealing with him in totally different environmental simulations. He could be those rankings for each situation.
Recently, he has been having problems at pre-school/daycare. He was moved into the 3 year old room (in Feb.)a few months after his diagnosis. Up to June, there were 3 morning teachers in the class of 12(2 are fully functioning adults; one has a medium to serious intellectual disability). As of June, one of the teachers is no longer in the class in the morning. Which leaves the lead teacher and the intellectually disabled care provider. The lead teacher says that my son is struggling more in the last 3 weeks than before. One of her most recent concerns is that my son has started hitting regularly. Something she told me in April almost never did. However, the afternoon classes are going much better for my son.
My family does not allow hitting of other children nor do we allow hitting adults. There is no question he can be very difficult to manage (especially when sensory overload occurs). He has and does hit at home, but I would say it is probably once per day. He is terribly remorseful after it occurs, and when it does happen, both the teacher and I agree, it is like a reflex certainly not planned.
So, as I was discussing the hitting issue with the teacher, she seemed to embellish the story. The thought has crossed my mind that the teacher may be much stressed and might be exaggerating the issue. Regardless, there is no question that this timing coincides with the third teacher no longer being in the room....a teacher, who my son was very fond of. In addition, this means a lot of extra work for the lead teacher. I don't think she is a bad person; actually she is good to and for all the children. I just think my child makes her work a lot harder than most.
The preschool/daycare "evaluated" my son this week. Part of the evaluation was done by the lead teacher and part done by the well-respected daycare director. Now, these folks are not licensed professionals in any way. However, I especially trust the daycare director to be honest, impartial and fair. We discussed the evaluation and the results.
A couple of background things about the evaluation. When the daycare director was not in the room, the lead teacher told us the evaluation was done by the director...as if to imply impartiality. Then we started to review it. When the daycare director joined us, we were on a question that my husband and I completely disagreed with the evaluation(the eval said my son could not use a fork and spoon...he ALWAYS uses silverware....every morning and every dinner. ALWAYS! Cereal, spaghetti, ALWAYS) So, I asked the director about her thoughts on the discrepancy between what we see and they see. The director said she did not fill this out that we would have to ask the lead teacher. We then found out that the first 1 1/2 pages were filled out by the lead teacher...So we felt pretty misled. You can imagine the trust issues from there. As we were already feeling concerned about the lead teacher's motives, this was not reassuring at all. It was almost like she
was overstating the condition several times, and if you think about it she could have reason to. If she got all of us to say my son needed special needs, she would no longer have to work with him. we would remove him or we would hire an assistant to join her room -- returning the ratio of children to teacher back to something she appreciates. I could very well be paranoid.
So, this is what the evaluation found. He knew his numbers very well (all but one number from 0 to 10). He knew all his shapes and all his colors....but he didn't recognize one letter of the alphabet. They have been working on letters since February. Next, his writing is not happening. His art work (cutting well and pasting well) is not happening. The daycare director and the lead teacher both believe my son is slightly developmentally behind, but not because of an ability to learn, but because his sensory processing is preventing him to sit still, follow directions, pay attention, etc. This I buy.
I have asked my OT and the Daycare Director about recommendations on whether my son should stay in the daycare setting or if I should remove him and get him some one-on-one attention. (Note: Money is not something my family is concerned about which allows me to take almost any solution into consideration. This is a real blessing).
So, here is what we are doing:
- We are officially getting my son tested for SPD (and any other issues). I have no doubt it will come back that this is the issue, but I am very concerned that something else will comeback with it as well. Pray for me.
-We are doubling his OT sessions. Let's get this little guy some help here.
-I have arranged for my awesome OT to spend 1 hour in my son's classroom on 3 different days to get her perspective on the class as well as to help give the teachers some pointers on how to recognize the warning signs, what to do if they see them, and, if they miss the signs, how to best handle a meltdown when you have 11 other kids running around.
-LAST, I AM CONSIDERING VERY STRONGLY REMOVING HIM FROM THIS ENVIRONMENT ALL TOGETHER. Here is where you come in!! HELP!!! I am so confused:
1.) Pull him from his school and have someone work with him one on one until he is 4 1/2 and try a preschool setting then? I am concerned about this because this is a school he has known forever. Quitting will be a very difficult transition (and he doesn't do transitions well, and he says he doesn't want to go to a different school. Plus, he will have to get used to the sounds and sights of school very soon anyway. Shouldn't I use this time to get him used to this type of a schedule?
2.) Pull him and have someone work with him one on one 1/2 days and then put him in the daycare environment in the afternoon?
I am worried about finding someone who is capable of teaching and is willing to work with my special needs son. I am worried about the transitions from one on one time to mass chaos.
3.) Keep him in his existing environment and supplement with a paid worker. I can pick up the tab. The daycare is considering this, but they are non-profit and they need to take into consideration the precedence this sets.
4.) Keep him in his existing environment and see how the OT sessions work as well as the evaluation and make a decision later with all the information. The evaluation is scheduled, but it might not be complete until NOVEMBER! That is a long time from now. Maybe too long.
This is long winded, but I just need some help. No one will weigh in to help me. Help! worries mom of a 3 year old!