We went to our meeting with our special needs resource consultant about Jack and his speech therapy goals now that he is three years old. The good news is that he has reached most of the milestones in terms of his communication checklist: he uses longer sentences (at least 5-8 words long), he is able to answer questions and tell short stories that (most) people can understand.
I love this picture because it has both Molly and Jack's face in it as if they are one.
The bad news was the behaviour he's been demonstrating over the past several weeks has been impacting a lot of his day to day interaction with other kids. We discussed his regression in terms of toilet training, his obsession with "plugs" (caps and lids) and his attention span (or lack thereof) when he's obsessing over specific toys or ideas and the way that it's causing other children to disconnect with him, even though it's very clear that he seeks out interaction with his peers. Staff at the daycare seemed just as frustrated as we were at this recent backslide. In retrospect Chris and I think that they were bracing themselves for the worst - us denying that anything was wrong. We explained how we were experiencing the same thing and we were on board with taking the steps to ensure that he is better equipped to build and maintain friendships with other kids in his class. He was throwing a lot of tantrums and the other kids were starting to take notice.
It was a very productive meeting where we worked out a game plan that included a session with a child psychologist (to determine whether or not Jack has any anxiety or obsessive tendencies to flag or whether it's just a part of his personality) and a request for trained support staff to help the team at the daycare keep Jack's learning on track with the other children. Chris and I can both be pretty odd ducks and Chris regularly admits to having issues as a child in school relating to other kids. The difference being he wasn't age three dealing with this. He was older, had better language skills and coping mechanisms in place by the time he had to have regular interaction with anyone besides his older sister - he still struggled with kindergarten and didn't like it very much. That being said, Chris's finicky nature serves him well as an adult who analyses business opportunities and has an affinity towards Excel spreadsheets and statistical analysis. Chris also admits that he really didn't like or want to play with other kids as a child "because they played wrong". Despite the productivity and the fact that we are doing something to help him, all I wanted to do was to curl up into a ball and cry. Jack may have inherited some of his father's quirks, but Jack wants to play with the other kids and the thought of him being rejected, because he's weird, was breaking my heart.
Prior to the meeting, I had assumed that the difficult stage we were going through with Jack was a normal transgression like the ones we had experienced in the past, often right before he reaches another major milestone. It was just nothing had evolved out of this transgression. His constant need to hold and label small objects (plugs) and freak out whenever anyone corrected him just became something he did, so we had stopped correcting him because we thought it would just pass on its own. Only it hasn't yet and it's time to intervene.
Both Chris and my mother take a very active problem solvers approach to any problem, while I prefer to wallow and lick my wounds for a while, whereas they both focused on what we could do to start helping Jack right away (more on that later). I wanted to reach out to some friends but was embarrassed about the struggle and don't want Molly and Jack compared to each other or someone elses children (whether it's intentional or not).
The next morning my mother sent me an email that helped me turn it around and focus on helping Jack rather than feeling sorry for myself. She reminded me that Jack was around the same age I was when I was expelled from nursery school for being an absolute terror. I wiped my eyes, laughed about it for the first time in a long time and we began our plan on how to help Jack. More on how that's working out tomorrow.
To read about Jack's initial speech therapy assessment last summer click here