Adoption Interview

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Little Terrorist

While I've often complained that the airline industry took security as far as what was and was not allowed onto a plane a bit far in the post 9/11 aftermath, I now believe they were completely justified in banning toenail clippers from carry-on baggage. They can (and have now been used in my house) be used as a terrorist device. Confused? Remember this post? Apparently I should have been more specific in my post "beautification" lecture. Instead of stressing that she should NEVER cut HER hair with SCISSORS, I SHOULD have hammered into her little brain that she should NEVER EVER EVER attempt to cut ANYONE'S hair with ANYTHING. Are things becoming clearer now? Ready for the full story? Lately I've been even more exhausted than usual so Hannah has been allowed to come into our bedroom when she wakes up and watch PBS until I'm coherent enough to tackle the day. This morning I was struggling more than usual with getting myself moving so apparently Hannah tired of TV and decided to make her own fun. I felt her climbing around me, but didn't think too much of it. Then it felt like something pulled my hair. I opened my eyes to find toenail clippers poised less than an inch from my eye being wielded by a newly turned 3 year old! I was so startled I bolted upright and nearly knocked Hannah off the bed. Once I recovered I asked her what she was doing. She calmly replied, "I'm cutting your hair, Mommy." Seriously, do other people's kids do this or am I the only lucky one?

Lately I've been doing battle with the local school system (while simultaneously researching private preschools in case I lose) since they have deemed Hannah too high functioning to qualify for their preschool unless she scores poorly on their language pragmatics test they want to perform next week. The problem I have with this is that only one person on the eligibility team has seen Hannah in the environment that gives her so much trouble. Not only that, but the observation lasted only 30 minutes and was during a highly structured group circle time that required little to no peer interaction of Hannah. When I discussed my concerns that although Hannah is highly capable of using advanced language, she is unable to do so with peers even when she is distressed and wants a child to leave her alone and the only word she need utter is "NO" in order for a teacher to intervene and her therapists reiterated this concern many times over, the eligibility team assured me that if there really was a problem then it would show up on the language pragmatics test they intend to administer. Um, I'm not a speech pathologist, but I DO know my daughter and I'm positive that she'll ace whatever language test they give her if it's administered one on one by an adult. It's not that Hannah doesn't understand HOW to use language. Her problem is the practical aspect of using that language effectively (or at all) with peers or often even with adults when she's in a socially overwhelming social environment. Whether they choose to believe it or not, those who really know Hannah know this is a problem. Though the defender of justice in me wants to make them provide her with what I firmly believe that by law she is entitled to, I'm growing weary of this fight and I'm not altogether convinced that this classroom (taught by the person who observed her for 30 minutes and proclaimed to know all about her) will be the best place for her. I'm not sure that this particular teacher will be able (or possibly willing to after all the fight I've put up) to meet her needs IEP or no IEP. I've found a private preschool near our home (recommended by her speech therapist) that seems like it would be a perfect fit. It's fully inclusional, has OTs, PTs, SLPs, and a nurse on staff, and is taught by the teacher that USED to have the job of the lady who observed Hannah and who would teach her class should she qualify and attend the school system's program.

As Hannah becomes more and more willing to and interested in interacting with other kids I've begun to notice a troubling pattern. Take today for example. Hannah and I walked down to the beach to play in the sand. Shortly after we arrived a father and his two daughters (aged 4 and 5) showed up to swim. They tirelessly engaged with Hannah until they finally broke through her defenses (aided I'm sure by all the sensory input the ocean provided!). All of a sudden Hannah was playing happily with the girls. As she became more comfortable with the girls she swung 180 degrees from refusing to interact to completely being in their faces and just generally being too close and not respecting their personal space. It wasn't long before the girls who had been actively trying to get Hannah to play with them were now trying to get away from her and Hannah was clueless as to the change of events. I felt so bad for her. She really thought they were all having fun. I tried to remind her to give them space, to not shout in their faces, to keep her hands to herself, but she just couldn't understand. They wanted to play with her. They were being nice to her. Why shouldn't she play with them in the only way she knows how? I see this pattern happening over and over again. Nearly every time Hannah manages to break out of her anxiety and make an initial connection with another child, it almost always begins to go south as she becomes more comfortable and attaches herself at the hip to the other child. Right now she doesn't get it that these other kids don't want to play with her anymore, but what I'm worried about is that if we can't teach her how to sustain the initial positive interaction she will eventually begin to notice that kids don't want to play with her and be hurt by it. I just don't want to see that happen to my little girl. What I don't know is how to teach her how to do it and how long I have before she starts to notice when the kids don't want to be around her. So, for all you veteran parents out there, how old are kids usually before they start to notice what other kids think about them?


Lora said...

Walter is starting to notice now, at almost 6. He too struggles to break out of his shell with other kids, and when he does, he's all over them. He is a hugger, and he hugs tightly. Tighter than I think he realizes. Other kids don't like to be hugged constantly. But now that he's this age, it's easier to talk to him about it. We had a playdate at the children's museum, and after I talked to him, he didn't hug the girl the whole time. He tickled her some, and she didn't like it, but I let them work that out on their own. And they did.

That private preschool sounds awesome! If it turns out you can't get in there, I recommend a NAEYC accredited preschool. We've had such a great experience with ours, and they are incredibly accommodating about walter's needs.

Good luck! (I hope your hair isn't cut again!)

China said...

I think most kids will become more accutely aware of how their peers react to them somewhere between third and fifth grades. I have two going into fourth and one into fifth. My daughter is the "in your face" type and is visually impaired. She's been aware of some rejections in the past, but now she is much more aware of the fact that it's HER behavior that determines whether a friend sticks or runs. She's not on the spectrum, her brother is. He seems to care a bit more about how his peers relate to him now. In the past, he just ignored them.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Oh, Natalie... even the Tongginator has yet to cut my hair! Brace yourself... I sense a few years of a high terrorist threat level. And your friends may place her on the watch list. LOL.

And the Tongginator, even with as SOCIAL as she is, didn't pick up on people rejecting her until just before her fifth birthday. Even then (and now), she only notices about half the time.

kia (good enough mama) said...

Good question, but I don't have the answer. I'm not sure if Little Man (who's 5) realizes yet what other kids think of him. He gets upset when others don't want to play with him, but I'm not sure he's connecting their opinion of them to their actions. Hmmmm...good question.

Lanny said...

My 6 year old isn't fully aware yet. On rare occasion she notices, but more often than not she doesn't.

I hope she didn't cut too much hair! She sure is a creative thinker! :)t

Anonymous said...

Your little terrorist is adorable. =)

Unknown said...

so is it wrong that the image of her poised over you with nail clippers strikes me funny? ummm, ya it probably is. sorry.

have you found out which school she will attend? i have to agree that the teacher who doesn't really get the issue probably never will and might not be a good fit anyway. that was the problem we had with the speech path at Meechi's school last year. when she wanted to stop seeing him for his IEP required 15 minutes of indiviual speech.... well, i didn't fight it because i knew she wasn't helping him in that time anyway.

the learning to read cues from other kids thing is tough. i don't think there is a certain age where kids get it. it just depends on the kid. my daughter always seemed to know even as a toddler. my older son caught on around age 3. Meechi is clueless at nearly 4, as he thinks everyone in the world loves him and enjoys his never ending prsence in their face. hopefully Hannah will figure it out soon. i know you don't want her feelings hurt, but perhaps once she can realize they don't want to play and gets her feelings hurt because of it, she will be more able to process why it has happened.

Patty O. said...

Danny does the same thing with other kids. He is all in their faces and can be really loud and super rough with others, all the while thinking everyone is having fun. I am hoping his OT can help me with figuring this one out.

The preschool sounds really great. I have never heard of a private school with so many services....