Saturday, January 10, 2009

Where to begin? Part 1

Do you ever get the feeling that if you sit down and actually try to do something, you know that most likely you'll get interrupted, and never finish it or not finish it the way you want to?

Yeah, that would be me and this blog at the moment.

While my life has been boring for the most part, there have been a few things I wanted to blog about. But, when I had free time, most likely I would convince myself that I could be doing something else instead of blogging.

I guess I should probably start back a few months.

Way back last school year, at Emma's old school, I had asked at one of her IEP meetings to have her evaluated for a learning disability. While she had made some progress in the Resource Room (for reading and spelling) during 2nd grade, she just wasn't progressing at a rate that I felt was ok. Plus, she was starting to regress in other areas where she had been really strong (math). They told me at the time that they were pretty sure that they wouldn't be able to get to it before the end of the school year. I was ok with that, since I'd already known that she would be going to a different school this year, due to us moving and me not being able to drive 15 miles to and from her school that was in the middle of nowhere twice a day.

So, she switched schools and I waited for her to be evaluated. But, during the summer she had gone to speech camp for 6 weeks, and had made great progress in that area, and they had also worked on some language and reading with her, as well. Which was fabulous of them, considering it wasn't really their job.

About 6 weeks into the school year, we have her bi-annual IEP. The school psychologist tells us that they don't believe she has a learning disability, and her teacher confirms that, while she's not 100% caught up to her peers, she's within the average range for her abilities. I thought, great! This is wonderful. Her 3rd grade teacher (whom, I LOVE) is an ex-Resource Room teacher (she taught in there for 15 years) and so I trusted her opinion implicitly. She also told me that she didn't think that Emma really qualified for Resource Room help anymore. I had to pause at that one, because I couldn't believe my good luck!

Then they dropped the bombshell on me. While they don't think Emma has an LD, they did want her to start seeing the school social worker. They had noticed (and I confirmed this has been an issue since Kindergarten) that Emma seems to have trouble maintaining good peer relationships. She gets easily offended and is often reduced to tears at school. She would come home and tell me how so & so wasn't her friend anymore because of something they'd done or said. It seems she had a hard time distinguishing between innocent schoolyard squabbles and real issues. I've always felt bad for her in regards to friends, because, even from an early age, she couldn't really keep friends. Her best friends when we lived in San Diego were kids of friends we went to church with, and when we moved 2000 miles away, we only kept in contact with 1 of those families. That family we only see once a year. When we moved here, we didn't know ANYONE. All of the people Jeff worked with had kids who were much older. I started Emma in preschool, but it didn't seem like any of the kids really wanted to be close friends with her. Trust me, I tried almost everything. We had parties and playdates and parent coffees. I tried to go to almost every school function they had. Then, there was the insult to the injury when I put her in a school where none of her friends from preschool were going. She easily made friends in Kindergarten, one of which, Adam, is still her friend to this day. But, it seemed every year that the few friends she made that were really important to her, either moved or switched schools.

Last year, her best friend was Adam. Adam had a few other friends who didn't always want to play with Emma, since she was a girl. Which is ironic since there was another girl who was ok to play with, but not Emma. (Insert angry mom rant over unequal gender treatment by little children in public schools.) Adam's mom is probably my closest friend here, and so we got our kids together frequently (she has 3 boys, so she got her "girl-fix" when I came over, lol).

I have tried SO hard to make sure that the transition to this new school would be easy for Emma. I even put her on a soccer team last spring that had all girls that would be going to her new school. I was hoping she would make friends that would carry over to her class. But it seemed like nothing worked.

Emma is a VERY social child. She's not withdrawn, she's not shy, but the social worker just doesn't think she can relate on a peer level to kids her own age. This makes sense, since she'd constantly been around kids who were younger than her (i.e. her sisters, and the siblings of friends). When they started talking about that at the IEP, I lost it. Academic delays you can fix, but I knew enough about social development to know that it's VERY hard to catch up in that regard. I immediately had flashes of her going through school as the social outcast because she couldn't relate to any of her peers. And I was mad, too. She's SO bright and smart and funny and loves life. How could these kids not see that and want to be her friends? And of course, I felt guilty. Jeff & I were the ones who dragged her across the country, away from her only friends and our whole family. I blamed myself for not doing enough to make sure she had good social outlets. But, I thought, what else could I have done? I put her in sports and school and did all I could with being so far away from any help from family and having just had a child with special needs.

One bad thing about not growing up with the same kids: it seems like all the families have enough friends and whenever someone new comes into play, they don't have room.

Emma DID make a really good friend over the summer during speech camp. Ironically it was a girl who she'd gone to preschool with, but who goes to a different school. She's had a couple play dates since the summer, but she lives about 30 miles away, so those are few and far between.

So far, she's been seeing the social worker about 1-2 times a week. I don't know if it's making any difference. Emma still comes home from school on occasion and tells me she had a bad day because someone wasn't nice to her or so & so didn't want to play with her. It's hard to make her understand that no one can get along with everyone all the time. I know part of it is probably school related, and I know that some of it is from the stress that we've been under for awhile. Our household is far from stress-free and I know she internalizes it. Add that to my mountain of guilt please. But, how to fix it? That's the million dollar question. I only wish I had the answer.


Anonymous said...

Amanada, Have you guys considered putting Emma in some extracurricular classes that will give her a special talent that other kids would be impressed with? Dance, guitar lessons, gymnastics, stuff like that? Emma might make friends with the new kids in her new class, plus she'd have something to feel good about herself about to the kids in her regular class? Just an idea. Mom

Amanda said...

Trust me, I've tried. Gymnastics, soccer, swim, Pom-pom, PEAK during the summer; there's only so much we can do without going broke. She's going to do swim again next month, and probably soccer in the spring, plus she'll start guitar soon. Then she will most likely do tennis during the summer, as that's the only time they offer it.