The ‘burbs disappointed. This business of homeownership is ridiculously overrated and less than two years into it, the husband and I are already wondering what part of NYC we’ll end up moving back to. I’m sure moving back is the right decision but, truth is, thinking about leaving here and starting the job search, the apartment search, the SCHOOL search, takes me to a most unhappy place. These things aren’t easy with children but as we know, things are especially uneasy with a child who needs a little something more.
Since we moved out here, I’ve been working at the school that the Octoberkids
attend. I’m the only Special Ed teacher in the building. Professionally, it was a terrible move. But on a personal note, I can’t imagine what would have become of Octobergirl if I hadn’t been around to show her teachers how to handle her, help them differentiate her instruction, lead and manipulate her IEP meetings, etc. I’ll be happy to put it all behind me and head back to a place where kids that walk that fine line between “normal” and “not-so-much” have more options than being thrown into a Gen Ed class with their fingers crossed and an IEP that no one looks at.
Second grade has been an interesting year so far. She’s an excellent student, follows a Gen Ed curriculum with ease and has had only two major meltdowns since September where last year she was having them on a daily basis. But that social gap? Yikes! I swear it widens daily. She went from being the socially acceptable “baby” of her first grade class to being a bit of a weirdo in second grade. I worry about how much wider it’ll get as the years progress.
She misses most social cues, takes everything very literally and is ready to curl up and die when one of her friends threatens her with “I’m not your friend anymore!” not understanding that it's an empty threat and they’ll forget about it a day later. She wants to play dinosaurs all day (lately, she prefers to play the parasaurolophus) and doesn’t understand what her friends mean when they say they “like” her older brother. She'll say “I like him too!”, which of course makes everyone giggle. She also can’t wrap her head around the idea that there may be more than one way to play with a toy and often comes off as bossy.
There have been improvements, of course. Huge ones. Although her anxiety continues to be her worst enemy, her speech has improved tremendously and now she can say things like “I’m confused” or “ask me later” even in the middle of a full-blown tantrum. In a few weeks we’ll go back to the neurologist for yet another evaluation. Last time we did this (18 months ago), she tested “borderline” across the board and we had to sit with the neurologist – who agreed that she still needs some degree of special education, ST and OT – and agreed the best diagnosis for her at the time was Asperger’s with comorbid ADHD. Neither really fits but without a diagnosis, she can't continue to get the services she needs.
Sooooo.....I don’t know what diagnosis they’ll give her this time and most days I don’t really even care. I live for the moments where she’s just sitting around drawing and being herself without the enormous pressure that surely weighs on a seven-year-old girl who is always so anxious and isn't quite sure what to make of most of the people around her.
She zigs and zags across that borderline and we follow behind her ready with her drawing pad, her favorite dinosaur book and warm arms waiting to see what side she’ll be on tomorrow.
(Octobergirl looking for fossils at The Museum of the Earth. Ithaca, NY)