Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.


Friday, January 18, 2008

On Friendship and Day Care

Sandis came to me last night, somewhat sad, to tell me this: “Mom, I’m kind of feeling like none of the kids at day care like me. I’m kind of feeling like I don’t have any friends and no one likes me.”

I was distracted when he told me. I wanted to continue what I was doing. I wanted him to be in bed. I wanted him to be where he was supposed to be (in bed). I wanted these things, but I also recognized that Sandis was trying to deal with and understand something that can be extremely painful. Growing up, I can never say I was popular. I was more like the antithesis of popular. I was the anti-popular, which of course, meant that I was the butt of many painful jokes and exclusionary activities. I remember dreading going to school because I would have to deal with the children. I would have been happy (beside myself really) had I happened to arrive at school and all the other children in my class had just so happened to not show up. Children were cuttingly cruel.

My memories from childhood in regards to other children are vivid. I always felt inadequate around my peers. I was always scared of how whatever I said or did would be used against me at some point in time. I was acutely aware of the fact that I could not enjoy anything “cool” because upon recognition of that fact, it would suddenly cease to be cool in the minds of the other children. I enjoyed spending time alone, and although I attempted to culture relationships with other children my age or younger, I had little success until I was old enough to do drugs (I’ll spare you the specific age). In that circle the children were much less discriminating.

It is acutely painful to watch my son in this same predicament. I had somehow hoped that the unforgiving brutality of children in their relations with other children would have morphed into something more humane and nurturing over the passage of time. I am without words when he tells me of his painful circumstances.

The other day he went up to one of the teachers in his sister’s day care class and told her essentially the same thing that he said to me last night. My boy is reaching out. My boy is reaching out and for the life of me I cannot change other children. I know that there is only so much that you can do from the outside to change the demeanor of children that do not know nor have the maturity to understand the implications of their simplistic demeanors. I also know that many of the problems my son has socially lie not only with other children, but in his inability to understand social scenarios. He misses so many cues, doesn’t understand appropriate responses, and has very little understanding of personal space. I want so badly to help him, but I’m feeling stumped as to what to do.

In school Sandis does fabulously, which is no wonder as he has amazing supports there. Sandis has a team of professionals (including myself) that work with Sandis to help him navigate the intricate social systems of first grade and elementary school. Sandis doesn’t have that in day care. Sandis is on his own in day care, and it is no wonder he is overwhelmed and underserved because of that.

I need to figure out a plan to help Sandis function better in day care with his peers. I can’t change Sandis’s peers but I can help him to better deal with a situation that is hard for him, and hopefully in that process Sandis will grow even more into the confident young man that he is meant to be.

Consider this a networking occasion. Please tell me your ideas on how to better help Sandis deal with day care. Ideas I’ve considered are :
1. Visual Schedule for Sandis in the morning that he can carry with him.
2. Visual Reminders of a Transition (Teacher hands Sandis a card at 10 min & 5 min before major changes (like catching the bus or going outside).
3. 1 Social Story per day (is this possible in a day care?) on dealing with peers and difficult situations. I’m sure they could do this with the entire class. It would help everyone in the end, but these sorts of things would be especially helpful for Sandis
4. Chart of Calm Down and Rev Up Activities to help Sandis switch gears. So, if a teacher notices that Sandis is really struggling with whatever activity he is working on, he can go to the chart and pick one of the calm down or rev up activities (whichever he needs to do) and do that for 5 minutes.
5. Visual Schedules for Sandis to help remind him of what to do when there is conflict.
6. Weighted Vest

On a different note, I’ve been wearing my MiniLink for over 24 hours, and it is fabulous. I was worried the alarms wouldn’t wake me up, but they most certainly do. I think my pump woke me up at least five times last night. I was high though, not low. At least I know they wake me up.


Vivian said...

Sarah, we are working on these same issues at school right now. It is really a tough one because what we discovered with Daniel is that his perception of the other kids feelings are not always reality. He thinks everyone hates him and thinks he is weird. The reality is that while he does annoy most kids on occasion none of them hate him. Because his perception is very real to him it must be addressed as if it were true. We are trying to go the way of role playing with a small group of peers. Is this something that would be possible in his daycare? Maybe pairing the kids up with buddies so at least to start he would feel like he has at least one friend?

I write notes on Daniel's hand so he can see them during the day. The one I use most is "Focus". lol Maybe you could write a word every day on Sandis' hand that reminds him that he is loved and wonderful, then when he starts feeling less he can look and remember that he is awesome, funny, charming, smart, or whatever your words are.

I hope things get better for your little man. You have a very wonderful, special family.

BetterCell said...

Sarah, in the situation that you have described at the Day School that Sandis attends, it is more important that he be able to validate and appreciate his own accomplishments without relying on "others"(fellow students who belittle him).
He thus will feel good about himself without needing the recognition of other peers, which is not there anyway.

roid said...

Has Sandis ever met another kid who is like him? Another kid who is energetic and misses cues like him - and most importantly HAS AN EXISTING SOCIAL NETWORK that Sandi might be able to learn from - or even join outright (ie: perhaps look outside of school)

It might be good if he can be around a more socially functional version of himself so he can see good strategies of howto deal with 'normal people'. Or at least keep his self-confidence high by him seeing he's not alone in his eccentricities.