When Molly was 9 months I expressed some concern to our pediatrician that she didn’t respond to us when we talked to her. She seemed lost in her own world a lot. He asked if she responded to sounds, I said yes, he said he wasn’t concerned.
When Molly was 18 months I expressed concern that she seemed to be bothered by things such as her hair being too long, her sleeves being pushed up or wearing clothes. The pediatrician said she was starting to express her individuality.
When Molly was 2 1/2 and again at 3 I expressed concern that she was having a lot of behavioral issues, more than I deemed “normal”. I was told by our pediatrician that she was bored and not to worry, she wasn’t autistic.
We are no longer with this group of pediatricians.
In the fall that Molly started 2 year old preschool I was at my wits end. She was almost 2 1/2 and having tantrums at every little event. I read parenting books, articles and blogs. I read anything I could get my hands on and talked to other parents for advice, but nothing worked. I was failing as a parent, I was failing my child and I felt like I was failing my family. Depression doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.
“Give you child choices, so they feel empowered” I would read. I would give Molly choices and she would pick something else, like ice cream for breakfast and then throw a 30 minute fit because I wouldn’t give it to her.
“Ignore the tantrum, it will go away”. After 45 minutes it gets easier to ignore because you start to become numb to the the screaming, but after about the 4th one in a day your nerves are shot and you end up giving them some attention during the tantrum. Now, I have failed, she has broken me.
“Don’t overuse negatives like No, Don’t, Stop, etc”. Even though we still try to do this, I can only say “we sit on the couch” so many times before I go insane.
Enter Teacher Susie.
Teacher Susie came to us through the Parents As Teachers Program in our local school district. (I highly recommend this program if it’s available in your school district). She would come week after week with her tote of fun stuff and play with the kids. I would discuss our behavioral issues and she would supply real life solutions, then she would see them fail and say “hmmm, we’ll find an answer”.
Oh, how our family loved her totes though. The kids would be diving into them before she even took her shoes off and for an hour everyone was happy. There were new toys, challenging toys, sensory toys, fun crafts, those totes were awesome. Then there were Teacher Susie’s folders and in those folders were my goodies. There was information on development, on behavior, and new solutions to our problems. Finally, our concerns were falling on open ears. Teacher Susie worked with us for almost a year and then came the day that she witnessed Molly in full Molly form and me on the verge of a nervous breakdown and it was finally said “I think you need professional help”.
I blinked away tears and said “yes, that’s why you are here”
Teacher Susie: “I think it’s time our behavioral counselor came to talk to you. I can only do so much and you guys need the help”
I honestly just sat there and cried. I left to go back to work and cried some more. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach but I knew she was right.
A week later Marie showed up. I had taken notes over the weekend (Molly made it quite easy) so I could have everything I wanted to say easily at my finger tips. Then she had Stampy and I fill out a questionnaire about Molly’s behavior. Apparently we filled it out pretty quickly and without much discussion with is rare.
When Marie returned with our results, she had met with Teacher Susie first who informed her that we would be relieved. Marie still showed up with a look on her face like she was going to tell us that someone died. “Normal” is considered a child’s age + or – 2 years, Molly came up with a behavioral and emotional development less than an 18 month old, she was 3 1/2. Not only that but scored in the 99th percentile and off the charts for most categories.
We weren’t insane and we weren’t failures, we had a child that had difficulties and now to start therapy and find out why.
A year later we have lots of answers and lots of smiles and little mental breakdowns and we have Teacher Susie to thank for that. Without her, I don’t know where we’d stand today. She has since left the Parents as Teachers Program and often I want to email her or send her a card but how do you thank someone that gave you so much. How do you thank someone that finally listened and stood with you and helped? No card or email or gift seems to do justice what she did for us. I don’t know if there is ever a way to truly have her understand our gratitude. Teacher Susie gave us our family and she gave us our little girl back and for that I am eternally grateful.