Thursday, September 4, 2014

She just....COULDN'T (WOULDN'T?)

I would not, could not, in a box. 
I could not, would not, with a fox.
I will not eat them with a mouse 
I will not eat them in a house. 
I will not eat them here or there. 
I will not eat them anywhere. 
I do not like them, Sam-I-am----Dr. Suess

This little gem came scrolling through my newsfeed the other day and I had to repost because it really resonated:
Our little ones are starting school, and they are doing their very best.
They are sitting and listening and not touching things and lining up.

When children are exhausted, their ability to cope is completely KAPUT.
Tantrums over the smallest things, tears about nothing, worries about familiar stuff...all normal.
Our job, as parents, is to set and keep the conditions.
1) Routines = Safety
2) Calm Parent = Steady home environment
3) Smiling = Mom/Dad are happy with me (the child)
4) Quiet and Kind Tones = Ease a jangled nervous system
5) Whole foods = Balanced blood sugar
6) Complete Sleep Cycles = Ability to focus
7) Hugging = Goes to core of sensory needs in many children
8) Having lovies at the ready = Relaxation
9) Lots of sunshine and fresh air = increases serotonin (happiness and wakefulness)
10) Limit technology = helps with imagination and play

I was happy to see that I was providing at least some of these things to the girls this week. As I have picked them up each day I've had their lovies waiting in their car seats for the drive home. We've spent the afternoon doing low-key things like playing in their tent/treehouse, dancing, riding bikes, etc.

Yesterday we went off the rails, at least with Lucy. Unfortunately, they were scheduled for eye exams immediately after school. I met them with homemade smoothies (a powerhouse of spinach, persimmon, mixed berries, banana and walnuts which they inhaled) for the 30 minute drive from school to eye doctor. I let them help me pay the parking meter and open the glass door to the office. With relief I saw that there were some toys in the corner for them so I could fill out paperwork. It went downhill after that.

One of the reasons for the eye test is that Lucy still cannot tell me any of her letters or numbers with any certainty. Sometimes she gets it right but 90% of the time they are wrong, like not even close wrong.

Me: Lucy, can you tell me which letter this is? (Pointing to a letter R in an alphabet book we're reading)
Lucy: 6!

Then she will give me either A. a sly smile and start acting like she's the funniest comedian around or B. get really angry that I'm asking her a question at all. And although it mostly pertains to numbers or letters, she, in general, simply DOES NOT LIKE to take instruction. For most ANYTHING. I can literally see her tuning out whenever anyone tries to show or tell her how to do something. The rare exceptions have been brushing Karlie's horse or handling dogs. (She still doesn't understand that you can't pet a cat's fur backwards like you can with a dog even though she has been on the receiving end of at least 3 hissing cats).

So I don't really have a clear picture on what she actually knows. Under the advice of our pediatrician, I scheduled them for eye exams. I was worried that, because she may/may not know her numbers or letters, the eye test would be difficult and I was right. Although the doctor did have alternatives to show her, Lucy decided she was not going to participate and when that happens, well....it wasn't pretty.
The bottom line was this:
1. She had trouble telling blue from green. Because we weren't sure if she just wasn't seeing the numbers or didn't know what the numbers were, the doc gave her a qtip and asked her to trace what she saw.
2. She could not see the 3D butterfly that indicates depth perception although she could see other things on the same page so that was a wash.
 3. She would not cooperate with most of the exam, turning to look at the pictures behind her instead of looking at the mirror with one eye covered up. You can just make out the doctor waving emphatically for her to look at the wall in front of her.
Instead of outright defiance and obstinance, though, she fell back on her role as comedian, giving "silly" answers for things (like saying "triscuit" when a picture of a hand was on the screen). We both stressed that if she couldn't actually tell what it was, that that was ok, not everyone can see the same way and if she can't see it, just say so. She said she preferred to "guess, because that was more silly". That only led to more comedic turns, trying to jolly us out of making her do anything else. Here she was making faces and opening and closing her eyes, making it quite difficult for the doc to exam her.
Kate, for her part, enjoyed the tests (at least it wasn't BOTH of them not cooperating, amiright?!). 

Kate is far sighted which is normal for kids her age and is fine until we test again before the start of kindergarten.

So now we have a referral to another eye doctor who also deals with developmental issues who hopefully can have better luck. I'm going to schedule it for a morning so Kate will be in school and, more importantly, so as not to run into the afternoon post-school exhaustion again. I know that some of her behavior yesterday was related to that but I've seen this type of avoidance on her part for the last 2+ years no matter how rested she is so I still think there is something going on.

I just have no idea what it could be.


Samantha said...

I hope this is of some use to you; I'm speaking from my experience as a primary special education teacher, not making a judgement about your situation. The link between letter/number symbols and sound is very abstract. It's normal for children to not master them until closer to 6 years of age, although some do it a lot earlier. If a child is expected to learn letter and number symbols at 3 or 4 when his brain is wired to start at age 6, this could lead to coping strategies such as resistance, comedy, or other "acting out" behaviours.

Lisa said...

Thanks so much Samantha! I love it when others can share their experience...it's one of the benefits of writing publicly and I welcome advice or even just sympathy at times! It's even better to hear from teachers with experience in this area.


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