As I mentioned at the end of my previous post, Monkey Boy moved on to first grade in the fall of 2010. He continued to have issues with attention and focus, and he gradually fell a little bit more behind his grade level. He also became more reticent in class and was no longer interacting as well. His first grade teacher and I discussed holding him back, but several factors kept us from doing so. The main one being that his teacher was looping and we thought that consistency would be good for him. Also, renovations were being done on his school, and they were going to be housed elsewhere, so again, we thought the consistency of the same teacher and class would be beneficial.
In preschool, he’d had some focusing issues, but his teachers (and the psychologist) were of the opinion that it wasn’t anything out of the realm of normal at the time, so I didn’t concern myself with it much. I was also hesitant to put him on medicine because he had already been on so many medicines for his respiratory issues and “asthma.”
By the end of first grade, it was obvious that he was having more problems with attention and hyperactivity, so that summer I decided to have Monkey Boy evaluated for ADHD, autism and learning disabilities. We saw a psychologist in June who diagnosed him with high functioning autism and ADHD. From the testing, we also learned that Monkey Boy is almost exclusively a visual learner and does great with spatial relationships. Unfortunately, this did nothing as far as school was concerned because it wasn’t considered a “medical diagnosis,” and he wasn’t far enough behind to warrant any services. His pediatrician put him on Concerta, which he started taking at the end of the summer.
The autism diagnosis confounds me at times because he doesn’t really fit all the criteria. I vacillate between thinking that it’s not really the appropriate diagnosis versus me just not understanding the scope of the disorder. It’s not that I don’t want him to have autism; I just don’t want to fall back on it without dealing with the root cause. It also confuses me as to why none of his preschool teachers thought it fit (I just found this article today, and realize that it does describe some, but not all, of his problems).
Regardless, I’ve always found something not quite right with his language, and it’s been very difficult getting any satisfactory answers. After all, I can’t really walk into a meeting or appointment, and just say I feel it in my gut. By language difficulties, I mean things like confusing opposites, not knowing the name of certain body parts, using the wrong word or mispronouncing words, mixing up grammar. To me it’s more than an articulation issue because he spells like he talks. So, not only is it coming out incorrectly in speaking, it’s also being processed incorrectly. It’s something that continues to frustrate me.
The summer between first and second grade was a fairly productive one. Monkey Boy ended first grade weak in sight words. I managed to help him learn all of his sight words through the third grade level and moved him up two levels in reading. He also attended summer school, which really improved his reading and writing ability. We also did some math work, but at the time, that wasn’t too much of a weakness. I still find it interesting that he made all of these gains before he started the Concerta.
Thus, he started second grade on a very positive note. He participated more, had no transition issues and the gains he had made over the summer really helped him academically. I met with the SST team at the beginning of the year, where they were very impressed with how well he was doing, and that was the only meeting we had that year. I partly attribute this to the fact that he was more comfortable with a teacher and class he already knew.
olfactory sensitivity seemed to improve, his dislike of clothes continued to get worse. He spent most of his time at home free from clothes. He still prefers as few clothes as possible, much to my consternation. He continued to have meltdowns that seemed to stem from hunger, tiredness or heat, which are still triggers today. His phobias also got worse. He refused to go into any part of the house by himself, and he became so overwrought at the thought of bugs, that he stopped going outside. So, while his academic problems seemed to improve for a time, I was still seeing new/accelerated idiosyncrasies and behaviors that went unexplained.Other things that I continued to notice about Monkey Boy during this year were his inability to write between lines and the mixed up use of capital and lower case letters. While his
I dreaded the day second grade ended. I had volunteered in his classroom once a week, and really gotten to know the kids well (from third grade on up, the use of classroom volunteers seems to decline). Monkey Boy had thrived under the consistency, and we loved his teacher. He had also made tremendous progress academically. I was really worried (with good reason) about what the next year would bring.
In the next post, I’ll move on to third grade, where everything seemed to really fall apart for my poor Monkey Boy…..