Third grade ended for Monkey Boy with a referral to an OT, the beginning of the quest to find the right ADHD medicine, and my “misguided” belief that I would be able to help Monkey Boy make some progress in math and reading over the summer. He had failed two SOL tests (math and science), and he had passed two (reading and social studies).
Monkey Boy can be incredibly stubborn if he doesn’t want to do something. In the summer of 2013, I had grand plans to help him get a little further ahead in math and reading. I totally failed. I can make him sit, give him a book or pencil, and ask him questions, but I cannot make him read out loud, put pencil to paper or engage in conversation. Ultimately these attempts result in irritation, tears (his and mine!) and a complete meltdown (his). It doesn’t matter if it’s extra summer work or homework, the result is the same. Bribery and sticker charts worked in the past, but not so much anymore. And considering I have degrees in both psychology and education, I feel doubly inept. I can’t even get him to play games if they resemble anything educational. In some ways, he’s too smart for his own good!
Unfortunately, summer school was not an option that year. In 2012, it wasn’t offered at all, and I assumed that it was the same in 2013. It wasn’t until later that I found out there had been summer school; it just hadn’t been offered to Monkey Boy. This year I made a point of asking, but was told it was only for students who would benefit from the three week session. I understand that space and money are limited, but it’s still very frustrating because I think it would have helped him both years. Sometimes the concept that he is “too far behind for this” yet isn’t “far enough behind for that” makes me crazy.
That summer, I also sought therapy for his anxiety. Once again, we were met with a waiting list. In the meantime, he was invited to join a social skills group. I figured it wouldn’t hurt. He absolutely hated it. Talking is just not his thing. It’s one of his meltdown triggers (The Explosive Child is a great book on this topic). After several sessions into the fall, we decided it was just making things worse at home.
Monkey Boy finally had his OT evaluation at the beginning of August. They did some testing and found he had decreased upper body strength, poor visual motor integration skills and difficulties with sensory processing. Therefore, he qualified for services, except there was an eight month long waiting list.
We did manage to fit in some fun things over the summer. Monkey Boy has a best friend whom he has known since first grade, and they get together fairly often. I have found it has helped Monkey Boy’s language development, and he has fewer meltdowns in public if his friend is along. They are both fairly young for their grades (birthdays in May a week apart), and neither are particularly fond of schoolwork, so they’re a pretty good fit. We belonged to the YMCA Waterpark and spent some time there, although the bees were a big problem, especially with his insect phobia.
Master Yi-Yi and Little H, my other two kids, had their share of activities, too. For the past three summers, Master Yi-Yi has spent a week in Woodward, PA at their skateboarding camp. In 2012, my mom and I had taken Little H and Monkey Boy with us to drop Master Yi-Yi off, but Monkey Boy had several meltdowns induced by the long car ride, the heat, the bugs and the idle time at Woodward just to name a few. So, in the summer of 2012, my husband and I took Master Yi-Yi and left Little H and Monkey Boy with my mom. Master Yi-Yi also volunteered at the Curtis Park Skateboarding camp for four weeks in July into August, so that took up a bit of our summer. And then Little H spent a different week in Field Hockey camp. We also managed to get a weekend in at Great Wolf Lodge, which was great for Monkey Boy. All the kids had a great time even though they are older.
Before we knew it, September arrived along with the first day of school; brace yourself for the next post as the downward spiral escalates.