School Year 2013: Days 4 and 2 with Sensory Processing Disorder

I loved school as a kid. I remember getting myself up, dressed, fed and off to the bus stop feeling eager to see my teachers (I liked the adults better than most of my peers) and learn shiny new things. Recess was also a big attraction.

I guess that’s why I’m so confused. Why do my kids make such dramatic (and sometimes violent) production of going to school in the morning?

Sensory Processing Disorder: The Challenge of Morning Transitions

Yesterday was bad. Dolphin’s 4th day and Little Dude’s 2nd day. Mornings seem to be the hardest for the Dolphin with the transition from home to school.

Dolphin started stressing out about going back to school Sunday afternoon. He would go into rants about how he didn’t want to go to school tomorrow. It’s boring. It’s dumb. It’s 7 hours away from home. That’s too long. That only leaves 3 hours for him to do what HE wants to do. School is too hard. It’s too frustrating. He doesn’t want to go.

Monday morning, he got up and got dressed by himself. That marked the end of his cooperation and the beginning of the resistance. Verbal resistance. Physical resistance. Taking out frustrations on Little Dude. Punching me. Making threats, ultimatums.

I try sternness. Letting him know what his “job” is. What my expectations for him are. Outlining what I want to happen that morning. Finish breakfast. Brush teeth. Get shoes on. Go to school. All the specifics. That usually helps. Today it didn’t.

I try ridiculousness. Bring out Pierre. Speaking with a ridiculous French accent with the beloved mustached hand puppet helps elicit some giggles. But does not lessen the resistance.

Why is this kid’s only motivation $100+ Lego sets???

I carry this 62 lb wriggling, thrashing, unhappy child up the stairs, down the path and into the school. I sign him in as tardy in the office. Take him to his class. Meet his friend, Ms. T (the school counselor) and is content to go with her.

Little Dude put on a similar performance in the afternoon. In fact his performance was more dramatic, parroting Dolphin’s morning rendition and adding lib and emphasis with more crying and more thrashing.

After Little Dude’s teacher extracted him from my arms I fled the scene, crying. (Okay it was more of sobbing. You know, the ugly, scrunchy face crying that makes your nose and eyes puffy and red?)

Came home feeling so defeated and dreading the rest of the school year. It hasn’t even been two weeks. The three hours of respite before it was time to pick them both up just wasn’t enough. Afternoon was full of much bickering and sibling rivalry an overstimulated Dolphin doing a poor job of self-regulating.

Today was slightly better. At least thus far. I didn’t have to physically carry the Dolphin into school. He walked. The verbal resistance was no less dramatic.

It makes me so sad that school is such a dreaded experience for my kids…that they don’t have the same excitement for learning, for school for the smell of pencil shavings, chalk dust and copy paper.

Trying so hard to remember to apply all the things I’ve learned to diffuse these battles. Listening. Asking questions. Listening. Breathing. Validating. Trying to figure out how best to help. Avoiding fear-based tactics that will only bite me in the butt down the road. So much easier in theory. So  much more challenging in practice.

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