Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Food For Thought

Last week I took M to a new DAN! practice I had heard great things about. We have been patients of Thoughtful House for nearly two years now and I felt that it was time for a little different perspective as well as making the switch from a practice that was back on the mother ship to one that is local. I have great respect for the practitioners and work done at Thoughtful House, but unfortunately after following protocol there, we have not seen much, if any, change in our little guy.

I really liked the doctor I met with yesterday. I think the other half--who was notoriously skeptical of some of the suggestions at Thoughtful House--would have liked him too. It was sort of like Thoughtful House-light, which is probably good for us.

While he had many of the same beliefs as our old doctor, he also had one that sort of left speechless and with a lot to think about. At the end of our 90-minute appointment I finally got around to the current stage of Miles' developmental history; the part where we have an agitated, sometimes aggressive child on our hands. The doctor asked me what my gut told me is the reason for these new traits. I told him I believed it was his displeasure in a not-right-for-him school setting, to which he immediately replied, 'I put a lot of stock in parents' gut feelings. Take him out of school for three weeks and see what happens.'

WHAT?? Take him out? But...then that means that I have to deal with my lack of patience for starters. Or my inability to teach anyone how to do anything that doesn't come easily to them. I am acutely aware of my parental shortcomings and have overcompensated in areas of research and networking to somewhat make up for them. I'll be honest: I don't entirely know how to be with M 24/7 for longer than a week and I also know how very important things like speech and occupational therapy are for him. My first thoughts on this suggestion were that it could never happen.

But after giving it some thought, I think it could happen. And I think it could be very telling. However, I think since it's taken us 18 months to go down this hill, it is certainly not going to only take three weeks to go back up it. But if he's happier by the end of it when we check back in with this doctor, we may very well have ourselves a clearer answer of whether or not M's school is the root of his problems.

I have decided that in order to make this experiment a success, I need to set up an intensive private occupational and speech therapy schedule; like maybe 2-3 hours worth, three days a week. M always does well with his private therapists. They get him completely and the work seems like play to him. I think this is the only way we can take him out of a school setting without him losing skills and melting down even more.

I still have to get some other ducks in a row before this can happen. I have to figure out the best approach with the school district, and I need to figure out what three or four weeks make the most sense. The pediatrician flat out told me he would write me a letter saying that M was sick. Wow. This guy is serious!

I guess the biggest thing that concerns me is my fear that I am wrong about this school thing. What if I have used this as my go-to excuse for this regression when really I am just unable to see that this is who M was bound to become and I should accept it and move on? This is scary to me as I really believe that a happier child lies within the one I see before me.

I would love your thoughts on this proposed experiment, especially from you readers who have children with special needs.


sarah said...

wow, that is interesting. I hadn't thought of it. I agree that if/when you try it it would be good to have some private therapy and the horse back riding during the week...Look forward to talking more about this in person...

heather said...

I'm sneaking over to your site from Hopeful Parents...I took my 8 yo autistic daughter out of school at the end of her 1st grade year. She was becoming increasingly agitated and I couldn't patch her up fast enough before sending her out into another school day.

Within a couple of weeks we saw a lot of the intense agitation melt away. Biomedical has helped a lot (we didn't start down that path until the fall of her 2nd grade year).

I've homeschooled her since. There were days last year that I really wanted to find some elementary school and just slip her into a classroom for a few hours of sanity. But we survived and this year is much better.

There's a lot more I could say and would be happy to speak with you more as you weigh this difficult decision.

For us it was the best decision we ever made. It's not been easy, but my daughter wakes up happy.

Anonymous said...

Public schools have absolutely no clue how to teach and deal with autistic children no matter what they claim. I call it the inclusion delusion. I would homeschool or find a private setting for him.

Mama Deb said...

Heather--I would love to talk to you more about about taking your daughter out of school. Can you email me:

Heather said...

I'll email you now - so sorry, didn't realize that it wasn't linked to my email or blog!

heather said...

Sent you an email-let me know, happy to chat any time.