The back to school blues

So the kids are in their third week of school and both Anna and Dominic have had their ups and downs. Anna is adjusting to her inclusion class better than I hoped but she’s already had several incidents with throwing things, yelling “idiot girl” (her favorite angry phrase), pinching another student, and hitting the teacher. They take her to “room 300” to cool off, have a sensory break, and try to regroup. I think she spends all afternoon in the special ed environment. She hasn’t brought any homework home yet and I don’t have a good sense of where things stand academically at the moment. I’m sure the teachers are still getting a handle on where each student’s strengths and weaknesses are so I’ll give it more time. Anna regularly asks to go home and go to the nurse and has had a few days of crying jags.

Dominic claims to hate school already. He is a tough kid to teach, I really feel for his teacher. I was hoping that being in the TAG class this year would challenge him enough to help with his impulsive behaviors but so far he is really sticking out. I got a note from his teacher this morning:

“Dominic is struggling both in and outside the classroom. He knows my expectations and I can really see him trying hard. He has good intentions every day! He is a little more immature than the some of the other students in first grade and his choices toward other students are setting him aside and causing him to have acceptance issues. He screams at other students when he does not get his way. He grabs objects from others and has a hard time working in a group. When redirected by a teacher he will physically and verbally throw a fit, stopping class instruction. Yesterday he was very disrespectful to the PE staff. He often times calls me “Hey” instead of Mrs. M___ and absolutely must get the last word in. Now, with all that said, I adore Dominic! I do not think at this time he needs behavior intervention. Some children take longer to adjust as there is a huge difference between first and kinder. Dominic and I are talking things through and discussing alternate choices. He is a delightful boy, he has great ideas and is a great addition to our class family. For now, let’s just keep in touch about his behavior. I’m usually pretty detailed in the daily folder. It may not seem like it but we are making progress. If you have any questions just let me know. I really think Dominic will adjust and be just fine.”

I really like her tone and how she handled my concerns. I also like her optimism! But Dominic has been exhibiting these behaviors since he started preschool at age 2.5 and was actually asked to leave two preschools before we found one that would work with him. He was diagnosed with ADHD two years ago but the psychological testing we had done also showed that his attention and focus is fabulous when engaged with stimulating subject matter. He is much better than he was at this point last year but it is breaking my heart to hear him talking about not having friends. I worry about so much with him… how smart he is, how he has to have everyone follow the rules, how impulsive he is (and loud!), and how Anna’s challenges affect him emotionally and socially. Her needs take up so much of my attention that I worry I’m not doing enough for him.

After we get Anna’s anxiety under control, we’re going to start visiting with a behavioral therapist again. Both of them need help and I’m overwhelmed. I’m using the Incredible 5-Point Scale to help Anna with her anxiety and Dominic with his volume and anger. I have a very clear reward system in place with stickers for chores and good choices. They earn time for the fun things they like and that gets taken away when poor choices are made. I try to be consistent and follow-through… yet these notes home come nearly every day and they are both so unhappy. Some days I don’t feel like I’m doing a very good job, yknow?

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