Sunday, December 18, 2011


So last week, after I got back from my trip, Iyyar had his appointment with the developmental pediatrician--the appointment that was supposed to be in February but magically happened the next day because I fell apart crying in the Hitpatchut haYeled office. Really, I should have taken him, but I was so tired and jetlagged I convinced myself that it would be fine if Mr. Bigfoot did it. (Note to self: no.) He went and gave me a report and brought home a typed report that includes many repetitions of "father does not know..." and ends with a recommendation for a social worker, among other things. Sigh.

The evaluation Mr. Bigfoot brought home was not informative. It told me that Iyyar can write his name nicely, has good reflexes, draws lopsided circles, draws complete people with all their features, and is communicative in English but less so in Hebrew. It also started out with "yeled chamud" ("Cute kid.") Is it me or is that an "only in Israel" thing? She felt, after observing him in a small room containing his father and a friendly adult, lots of toys, undivided cheery attention, and no environmental stressors or other children, that Iyyar would be best served by an additional year in gan. Both Michal and I strenuously disagree with this: he has an early birthday, he is tall for his age, he finds the "school" aspect of gan easy already and knows full well that he is supposed to be heading into kita aleph. Also, he is doing reasonably well socially. Keeping him back would serve no purpose; he would be upset, he'd be the tallest/biggest kid in his class, he doesn't need the time to catch up academically or socially, and I don't think it would address any of his actual problems (not that anyone seems to understand what those actually ARE).

Other recommendations are for a speech therapist (great) and a psychological evaluation (great, but didn't he already have four hours of that?). That was a week ago and we have yet to hear anything from anyone, so I am not feeling optimistic. I'm going to call tomorrow because apparently the speech therapist to whom his materials were given is available by phone on Mondays from 8:30-9:30 am and only then. (Better than nothing?)

In the meantime, Michal finally spoke to the psychologist who did the first eval. She (Michal) said that repeating gan was not the solution and instead recommended a kita katana (small class for kids with mild to moderate learning disabilities/emotional issues). This was at my behest; she said last week that she'd like to see Iyyar in a regular kita aleph (first grade) with therapy/support, and I said that while I would love to see that too, I wasn't at all sure he'd be ready, and given the incredible amount of hoop-jumping that would have to be achieved to get him into a kita katana, the last thing I wanted was to come to the conclusion in June (or, worse, October) that a regular first grade was not going to work--and then have to start from scratch, with Iyyar not in the good place he is in now. I said I was not at all willing to close the kita katana door, and she saw the logic in this. Also, Iyyar had a hard day today. It's too long to get into here but he had some kind of a mysterious blowup on the way home from gan with Mr. Bigfoot and Avtalyon. Mr. Bigfoot had no idea what triggered it, and I did figure it out later but only after a lot of time and indirect prodding.

Even after Iyyar told me what the problem had been, and explained it to me, and we talked about it and how he had reacted (running away from Abba while Abba was calling him to come) and why it was dangerous/not OK, and why we had to use words to explain when we were not happy about something etc. etc.--even after I understood what had gone on in his head, I had to realize how really not normal that thought process had been, even for a five-year-old. What he got upset at, how the distress manifested itself, both in the moment and afterward--he needs help. At least this time, with enough time and quiet and patience, I could help. He was able to use words, he was able to tell me what he'd been thinking at least to some extent, he calmed down, he felt OK later, he went to bed happy.

And that's the thing, see--Iyyar is doing better. He IS. He blows up less, he communicates more, he is happier and calmer. I've been pouring on the love and the patience and he is getting that at gan too. It is, despite the opinion of the psychologist (who seems to think I am wrapping him in cotton wool) exactly what he needs to recover from whatever the **** was going on in that gan last year. But it takes so little--next to nothing--to set him off. And what is happening right now, see, it's a spiral. It's a good spiral. Right now, he is calmer and happier, so he behaves better in gan, and he gets positive reinforcement, and he is motivated to behave/less stressed and ergo able to behave. Therefore he can play with the other kids, he can sit still, he can focus better, he can do the things he needs to do to manage in gan. Last year, it was exactly the opposite. But he is, and there is no other word for it, emotionally fragile. He is terrified of disapproval. It takes so little to bounce him in the opposite direction, and I look at him and I see how easily he could fall apart completely in kita aleph.

This is not me being a neurotic overprotective American mother. This is me being his mother, and knowing him better than anyone else. But still not knowing what is wrong, or how to help.


persephone said...

Oh, they say "cute kid" (or more often "adorable child") here too. :)

I assume this is either because it makes the report a tiny bit easier for the parent to swallow; or it's actually worth noting, because some children they assess do NOT present as cute / charming / likeable...and for better or for worse, that affects how they get along in the world.

Rooting for you, as always.

Deborah said...

Have run into it here also: She is so charming, lovely, etc. Which makes me wonder sometimes if they get beyond the looks to where are some real problem/s that need help. Although the latest lady seems to "get it".

We first sought help for our girl over two years ago and were told then that what she had done/was doing was "normal". But it was not...

We were told then we didn't know better because we had never had an adolescent daughter. They were wrong.

You and Mr. B are the best advocates for your children. Keep pushing.