Was called in by the school on Thursday. By the class teacher to be specific. I had missed the PTM the previous Saturday with the brat being feverish and the entire house and my life being on high alert. Therefore, one went in meekly, one's heart in one's mouth and chest thudding the jungle drum beat, so loud one was certain everyone in the radius of two kilometers was wondering where the party was. And dont even ask me about the twisting of the stomach, and the cold sweat and the clammy hands. Never was this nervous about my own results after any exam. Including them big ones, which have children these days on the edge. But thats another post. It turned out I had reason to be anxious. The brat's assessment this term is beyond the pale. His skills are at the bottom of the heap. His alphabet recognition, upper case, lower case, are scraped through by the skin of my teeth. His writing is pathetic. He does not write. He does not copy. He cannot draw. Period. He refuses to write on his own. He has no control over where he will take his hand. This despite me sitting with him and making him write, through love and maternal intimidation involving the dire, "I will tell Papa" types of threats. Holding his hand. He writes when his hand is held. He moves his hand perfectly. But when the hand is removed he is at a loss. He will colour and scribble and do everything but write. They are doing three alphabet words in class, the current topic for the month is dinosaurs. They are working on addition and subtraction, when the brat is still struggling with figuring out his numbers. And because he cannot figure out what is going on in class, he runs around. Gets into trouble. Disturbs other kids. Is hyperactive. Has meltdowns. Wants to play in class. Is made to sit separate or sent to the special educator in school. Who sits with him for a while and works with him. And then he is sent back to class. Where he is back to his regular shennanigans. My heart broke into a million pieces. I have been struggling to keep him up with his class, and now that I know how far far far behind it really is, I feel guilty for having forced him into a situation where he doesnt fit in. And yet, I know he is highly intelligent. Just not in the regular way. A special school? No way. He will be even more of a misfit there. The school wants me to hire a special educator exclusively for him, someone who will sit with him for the entire duration of his class, for the entire week. I will have to sell myself to pay for that. But thats not the issue. My pain is that he will be marginalised all the more as the buddhu who needs a special teacher. He will be the object of ridicule amongst all his friends. I am so sick and tired of this issue rearing its head up every other month. Just as I think he's doing fine and and can cope, wham, this comes along and hits me on the head. And it is my headache. According to the father, his son is absolutely fine. What are my options? Should I hire a special educator? Should I keep a home tutor? I find that ridiculous for a kid in Junior KG. Should I shift him to an alternative school. I have been recommended Tridha at Vile Parle East by well meaning friends. I found the distance appalling for a four year old child to travel, from Malad to Vile Parle.But that seems to be the only option I have now, if he still cannot cope with the class. I so want him to be a regular child, to do the norm, if only to fit in. I dont care if he never tops any exams, God, just let him scrape through in order to survive in this world. Am tired of pushing my baby so hard, when he should be having fun and laughing and wanting to draw and colour rather than have him throw tantrums everytime I bring out the paper and the book. He is such a beautiful boy. Why should he be labelled different?
Edited to add: Thanks guys. Am overwhelmed by the flood of mails and so much concern, that it makes me feel foolish about whining on and on about this on the blog. Anyway, since it would be impossible for me to reply to each mail individually, here goes the gist of my situation. For those who came in late, Krish already goes for 16 sessions of speech and occupational therapy a week. He started in July 06. He was then not speaking. Not responding to his name. If he ever spoke it was only to repeat what was being said to him. Classic symptoms. Spinning wheels. Banging doors. Constantly seeking stimulation. Terrible temper tantrums and meltdowns. Especially in public situations. Inability to communicate. Obviously he has been evaluated. By three of the best experts in the country. I have differing diagnosis from each. PDD/NOS. SID Vestibular. Semantic Pragmatic. ADD/ADHD was deferred since he was too young to be diagnosed as such. IQ tests done recently show him to have an above average IQ. Today, he is a different child. He has verbal hyperactivity, laughs his speech therapist. He just doesnt stop talking. Picks up random conversations with strangers. He plays with toys, make believe war zone conflicts. And his friends adore him. He is to the untrained eye, just another really naughty kid. As are so many others in his class. Ro, Sur, Parul and Y who have met him would agree I am sure. His fine motor skills are the only issue right now as is his hyperactivity and distractibility. I am working on that. He goes to drawing classes to improve his grip and his confidence. He does yoga to improve his concentration, and body control and flexibility. I would love to put him in music classes, but the poor child hardly gets any time left over to play from all the therapy and drawing classes. Add to this grief is the fact that he is at the bottom end, age wise in his class. The batch begins from Jan 2003, and he is October end born. I had requested the school last year itself to detain him for a year to allow him to be with kids nearer his age. In their wisdom they didnt. I am now going to request them again, to detain him for a year, to see whether he catches up. And keep a private special educator-tutor at home to help him with his classwork. If he still finds it tough to cope, he will go to an alternative school. Tridha, most likely, if they will have him. He will be older too, and more capable of coping with long distance travel. I travelled from Goregaon to Bandra to school everyday and know how I hated it, so have been resistant to inflict the same on my child. Plus there is the issue of his seizures. If, God forbid, anything were to happen, the school would be too far for me to get there in a snap. Given Mumbai traffic.
There are other children who are unable to cope in the school I know for a fact, but it seems I am the only honest parent who has given in a complete file of the brat;s case history and put the school in touch with his therapists, both speech and OT, because I believed they could work in tandem to help him. The rest of the parents in a similar situation are just, sweeping things under the carpet, with a "Oh, he's slow, he will catch up." attitude. The only issue right now is writing. And reading. And the maths. I feel the portion the kids are doing today is equivalent to what we did as children in Std I. Am going to give this route a try. If it still doesnt work out, then I look at alternatives.