My sensory son returns to school on Monday, starting Grade 3, and with most children who have sensory problems, he has a lot of anxiety about it. We have a new Occupational Therapist who hasn’t quite gained his full trust yet, so he did not express all of his concerns to her in our introductory session.
With his previous OT she had him write out a list of things he’s excited about and things he’s worried about when returning to school. Most of them are the usual things that a child may be worried about: New Teacher and different students. Some things he is excited about is that he has his cousin in his class, and he is also excited to get to know the new teacher even though he’s worried about it too. He was so attached to his grade 2 teacher that when we had spring break last year, he had to message her – a lot…. and being the amazing teacher she is, she still responded (on her break)!!
As he is extra sensitive to sound, he has been put with a teacher this year that has a reputation for never yelling (how on earth does she teach so many children without yelling?).
I find though, that I have more anxiety than he does. For one, I know he doesn’t get invited to Birthdays (even though he’s great at birthdays, there are few parents willing to risk it), thinking he’s going to have a meltdown. He’s actually a pretty awesome guest because he gets really excited for others opening up their presents… and does anything he can to make the birthday child feel extra special. I also know there is one child that says if any other child plays with my son, that they aren’t in his group… so some children are pressured to not play with my son. This breaks my heart.
The sad part is, my son is a super loyal child who is very protective of his friends but has meltdowns every once in a while when noises get too loud, or too bright, or he is teased. He is working on these meltdowns but my anxiety is that there are parents out there that don’t teach their children how to include children with differences. I have a child that not only has to deal with not being able to control how much the noises hurt him or the lights hurt him, but also that he is rejected for something he can’t control.
The great thing is that most parents and teachers, and OTs and any other staff member that works with him tell me how he has such incredible skills of caring for others and brightening up their day. I also know that there are a few children that do look out for him, who have purposely been put in his class.
So we are returning back to school, and my son has so many tools to help him, his ankle weights, his special wedge pillow to help him sit still, weighted blanket, noise cancellation headphones, a cold smooth stone to hold – but there is no one who has more anxiety than me, the parent. I am not sure what tools I should use for ME but I am hoping that this year will be better than the previous years, and that maybe he will be included a little more this year. Sometimes when you have a child like this… you are thankful for something as small as your child finding a friend.