Friday, December 31, 2010

Not Failing

A month or so ago, I posted in my misery about the tough time my son was having in kindergarten. Since I posted that, I meant to post an update and let you know how he's been doing.

First, we started visiting a therapist with Oliver. The therapist is someone who's experienced working with kids, and who understands childhood anxiety really well. She's been wonderful with O, and he's grown to trust her very quickly. She's pretty certain that he's being dogged by anxiety, and has really worked on teaching strategies for dealing with it himself.

So we had a meeting. Both of us were there. Both of his teachers. (He is in two different classrooms during the day, so he has two different teachers who share responsibility.) The special ed teacher, the nurse, the PE teacher, the school psychologist, the principal, and a bunch of people I can't even remember. It was stunning to see so many people focused on our little guy.

We also had our therapist with us. And she was a godsend, people. Every time one of the people would start suggesting something that sounded off-base - hinting at autism or ADD or other scary stuff - our therapist pulled the conversation back to his anxiety.

In a lot of ways, it was reassuring for us to see that the teachers really didn't know Oliver. We told them that for years, we'd go to playdates and the other parents would tell us what a nice, sweet little boy Oliver was. He wasn't a hitter. He didn't spit at other kids. He didn't start fights. This was about him being overwhelmed in a new environment.

So the teachers have been working, since that day, to make the environment more welcoming for him, and to find ways to reward him for positive behavior. He has a little chart every day that the teachers fill out, so we know how he did during the day. Each part of the day has its own section, so we can see if he has more difficulty in the morning or in the afternoon.

The teachers have moved him closer during class, too. And this little change has made a world of difference. O was getting mischievous when he didn't know what was going on during class and when nobody seemed to be paying attention to him. So that little change of proximity has eliminated most of that issue.

He's blossoming in school now. He's always been smart - we saw his report card, and he's showing great progress in reading and in math. He can count and do simple math in Spanish and in English. He is reading now - short words, short sentences. But he's so proud to be reading, and he loves to show us how well he's doing. He's happier in school, and I know the teachers are happier now to see Oliver doing well. This is what we were hoping to see, and thank goodness everybody's been working together to get him to this point.

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