Thursday, October 29, 2009

Discouraged

It's about mid-way through the fall preschool semester for Charlie. Time to drop in and see how he's doing.

On Monday I stopped by his Special Ed preschool class for an hour. I saw some nice interaction between Charlie and some of the kids in his class in the play area. I saw him use a computer mouse to do a computer game. I watched him do a one-on-one center activity with one of the aids. I also spent some time chatting with the Occupational Therapist while she worked with him.

All in all I was very pleased. He seems to know his way around the class very well, and follows verbal instructions to go to the next activity. He is in a non-verbal class, which perhaps is my only concern, though I'm not sure. I did not see him talk much. I can probably count on my right hand the number of words he said, yet when we are home or out and about he is a chatter box. I think his vocab is probably close to 200 words, of course some of them are hard to understand (okay, a lot of them). I don't know whether being in a class where most of the children have very few words is a hindrance for him or not. I suspect a lot of it is due to his slow-to-warm-up to adults personality.

Today I spent some time at his typical preschool classroom. Sigh. I saw very little interaction with other students. What interaction did occur, today at least, involved a little boy asking Charlie for a turn, and Charlie staring back clueless as to what to do. I saw him look on longingly at some of the playing the other kids were engaged in. I could tell he really wanted to jump into the play that was going on on the trike track, but the boys were moving so fast, and Charlie did not interject in their play. He does know how to ask for a turn, but I think he was pretty overwhelmed by the pace of everything.

It turns out that on Thursdays the center does not do circle time or structured play because the teacher is not there (something I did not know), so Thursday is mostly unstructured free-play. I was so bummed to learn that Charlie spends those days in his own little world on the play ground. He used to interact with the kids more, but I think they have just blown by him in development. Charlie is still doing parallel play (a toddler thing), but the rest of the kids are into interactive play. I did not see the kids try to include him, or they tried and moved on when he did not respond.

I left after feeling so discouraged to see how things were going and went to spend some time in Calvin's class for a bit.

When I came back at 11:30 to pick Charlie up, the boys had moved on from the trike track, and Charlie finally had his chance to ride a trike. He was riding around the track, just as happy as can be, but all alone. It just hurt my heart. I don't think Charlie feels rejection, but I DO!

I guess my expectation of the typical preschool class was that it would provide some valuable peer interaction and modeling, and an environment where he can use his verbal skills. I think there is plenty of modeling, but I did not hear him using words, and he certainly wasn't being facilitated in peer interaction. I feel let down for him, and I don't really know where to go from here.

3 comments:

datri said...

Kayla was in a nonverbal special ed class for her first 1 1/2 years of PreK. She did well in there, but I was concerned there was no peer language modeling, so for the last 1 1/2 years I had her in the integrated class. And then she ends up hanging out with a little Chinese girl who doesn't speak English, LOL. Kayla never really interacted WITH her peers in the integrated class either. She was pretty much in her own world. But y'know what? The kids in that class, heck in that whole school, absolutely loved her. Every time we'd walk down the halls, all the kids would yell "HI LA-LA!!!". It was just so cute and moving. I don't think Kayla noticed one way or the other, though, but that's OK.

SunflowerMom said...

Oh man, that hurt my heart to read! I do think it takes time for our kis to get comfortable in their surroundings and feel confident interacting with others.

A lot of it depends on the type of play, too. For example, when Sean was just starting preschool, he'd only been walking a few months. He was very unstable and easily tipped over. So he wouldn't join in the active physical play, but loved to play in the kitchen area or with things like cars, blocks and crafts.

Now that he is more stable, he is all about the running around/climbing/biking play.

His BFF in class has Down syndrome too and they tend to just play together, excluding others. Last year, they interacted more with the kids older than them. Now that they are the older ones, the haven't bonded with the younger kids.

Charlie will find his voice and assertiveness. Hang in there!

Brandie said...

I would be bummed, too. Would it help if he had a playdate(s), away from school, to get him interacting with some of the kids one on one?

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