I accompanied Anna’s second grade team Tuesday on a field trip to the zoo. What a marked difference between this trip and the one a few weeks ago with Dominic’s kindergarten class. First off, Anna is scared of school busses. The motor noise, the bright color, the exhaust smell, and the sensory input once on board is just too much for her to handle. She has only ridden the bus in the past for a short time in PPCD and when she had to go to kinder the first time across town because our home campus didn’t have special education services. So I asked if I could either a) ride the bus with her or b) she could ride with me and we’d meet them there. (It’s about a 45-minute drive to the zoo.) She was allowed to ride with me but it required that I sign her out of school, then sign her back in when we returned.
When I first arrived in her classroom this morning, she didn’t see me. I was able to quietly steal a seat without disrupting the class and watch her. She looked so typical sitting at her table and looking at a book. After a few minutes she spotted me and the hugest grin washed over her face. That made my heart just about burst. Then it was time to line up and get on the busses; she was assigned to be buddies with two other girls and I was thinking that maybe once we were at the zoo, she would stay with her buddies and I could chat with the other adults.
We got there waaaay before the busses did. And there were at least 6 other schools with multiple classes there. I’ve never seen it so crowded. We waited in the car until everyone else arrived. Finally we join the class and start the adventure. One of the first things I notice is just how much Anna has grown this year. Granted, she is a year older then her peers since she repeated kindergarten, but this whole mess with the precocious puberty has taken its toll on her growth.
The next thing I notice is that Anna is not interacting with her peers at all. Not even chit-chat or anything. She is sticking by my side or with her special ed teacher. Throughout the entire time of looking at the animals, she only talks with the adults. We were there only about 30 minutes before she started asking over and over and over again when it would be lunch time. So I had a whole hour of “It’s not time to eat yet, sweetie… just a little longer.” She did eat a few grapes while wandering but she just seemed to want her lunch.
5 minutes into lunch, she started asking over and over and over again when it was time to leave. She sits next to some girls on the picnic bench and there too, she doesn’t interact with them. She is worried only about a toddler who is across the table from her. The kids had nothing to do after eating and about 20 minutes to kill before loading the busses. Anna got pretty agitated during this time and wandered off twice then started poking another little girl. I her the girl say, “Anna, stop! I don’t like that!” Sigh.
On the way back to school, she fell asleep in the van. The field trip was very stressful for her. I guess it was the sheer amount of children and the school busses too. Because we go to the zoo all the time and she usually loves it.
I spent 40 minutes in her classroom with her before the other students and teachers got back. She was a total sweetie once we were in the class, just the two of us. She read me some books and I was so impressed with how much her reading has improved. Her special ed teacher was telling me that last year, Anna finished her DRA (not sure what that stands for) reading level at a 6; she regressed back to a 2 at the beginning of this school year and now she is testing at a 12!
But overall, it was one of those heart-heavy days for me. Realizing that she is part of the group, but still very separate. The other kids want to interact with her, they want to be a friend to her, but she rejects them. I see her hanging on the periphery, having it cause stress, wanting only for it to be over. This picture really illustrates it to me… how’s she’s always on the edge of things.
The aggression is so much better now. Switching from Risperdal to Abilify has made a huge difference in that. But the anxiety and perseveration is worse, so I’m going to drop a note to the neuro. I don’t know if we have room to go up on the Lexapro or if we need to do something different, but she seems pretty stressed at school. Maybe this is just her normal state though.
Thanks for reading.