Colin started his new school on Monday. They told me that the first day would be an easy one and that they weren’t going to do much “work.” They wanted to establish a relationship with the therapist and make Colin think of it as a fun place to be. Of course, the report that came home that day didn’t have much in the “challenges” column.
Sometimes I feel like people think we are crazy for saying that Colin has issues or because we have decided to go this therapy route. That’s because most people never really see him “in action.” At parties, family get-togethers, etc, he usually behaves fairly well. However, that’s mostly because we aren’t doing any “work.” We aren’t asking him to do anything he doesn’t want to do. He is such a social little kid, so he walks around charming everyone. He gets lots of attention and people hand him whatever food/ toy/ other item he wants, and everything is fine.
When he does have a tantrum or he misbehaves, people have a tendency to smile and say, “Oh yeah, the terrible twos!” …But this is not just because he is two. We know all about the terrible twos – our four- and three-year-olds were just there very recently, so we have a bit of experience with that. This is different. It’s much more extreme, and we’ve been dealing with it since he was about 12-months-old, well before the terrible twos should have kicked in.
It is when he is not getting whatever he wants or when we sit down and ask him to do something that it becomes a problem. I wish that the people who say, “Oh, he’s fine,” could see him in some of his occupational or developmental therapy sessions. If he chooses to do an activity, which is usually playing with trains, his attention span is appropriate. However, if we try to direct him in an activity (colors, animals, counting, building a tower, etc), he gets frustrated. He walks away, throws the items we are trying to work with, hits, has tantrums, etc. Again, some people can just dismiss this as toddler stuff, but two doctors and two therapists so far have told us that this behavior is not normal for his age.
Colin had cognitive testing done in May. At that time, the testing put him two to three months behind where he should have been. The thing is though is that it’s not that he’s not “smart.” They told us that he is behind because of his lack of attention and focus, hyperactivity, high frustration level, etc.
And the aggression. Oh the aggression. Sometimes it is triggered and appropriate, like when Noah or Zoe take a toy from him, but sometimes it is for no reason at all. Yesterday we were lying in bed watching Team Umizoomi. We were snuggling and it was sweet. Then, for no reason at all, he smacked me in the face. Hard. I told him it hurt me and he laughed. He did it again. I told him, “We do not hit,” and he blew raspberries at me and laughed again.
Christian even tried to make a spreadsheet once with the behavior and the trigger so that we could find some sort of pattern, but there just isn’t one. That’s part of what makes it so frustrating.
Prior to this school, he was in a church pre-school. The twos class was a very free-play, easy-going class. The teachers were pretty relaxed. In fact, they were too relaxed for my tastes. Colin’s developmental therapist did a session once at his school, and she agreed. She said they really didn’t ask him to do anything. I went to pick him up one day and I was a few minutes early. They were supposed to be sitting in circle time listening to a book. Two kids were sitting in circle time listening nicely. Two kids were playing with toys, but they were still sitting nicely. Colin was pushing a shopping cart around the room and running it into the walls. The teachers were making no attempt to make him pay attention. When we told the two teachers that he wouldn’t be there because he was going to this new school, they acted shocked. “Oh really? He’s been so good.”
Again, he was “good” because he wasn’t being asked to do anything he didn’t want to do. I knew the negative behaviors would come out at his new school once they started asking him to “work,” but there was also a small part of me that was terrified he would just go in and charm the pants off everyone like he had done at the other school. I was happy he had a good first day, but slightly concerned that there was not much in the “challenges” column. I have not seen his report for today yet, but he had a total of six tantrums on Tuesday and Wednesday, including two where he hit his own head on the floor so hard it left marks. I hate to admit that I was a little relieved. I mean, I am certainly not happy that he is behaving that way, but I am so glad that they see it and that they are addressing it.
I was reading someone else’s blog who was expressing similar feelings and issues. I left her the this comment:
I just had to tell you that I can totally relate to this… The problem is that he has really bad days, but he has really good days, too. When he’s having a good day, well-meaning people tell me, “Oh, he’s fine, Tracy,” and *man* does it get under my skin. I’m sure they are trying to be reassuring, but it feels like they are telling me I am overreacting or that I am crazy. It is so tough when you see behaviors that others don’t always see.
Colin has so many positives, and I love him to infinity and back, but this is hard.