Thursday, May 20, 2010

Time to start school

At 4 years old, we put Mary in a traditional Montessori program in the hopes that she would catch right up to everybody. Mary did not progress, but she was the happiest, most loving, caring little girl. We would always ask her to do certain things or say things because it was so cute!
We started kindergarten 2 years later, still Mary could not keep up with her classmates. We had an educational evaluation done to determine where she was struggling. Again, more diagnosis', "mentally educable", ADD, SLD, speech/language disorder. IQ was very low in some areas, but higher in others. At age 6 it was hard to determine why or what that meant. We would wait till the middle of 1st grade to see where she is. Well, early on in 1st grade, she struggled. Mary knew she was not like the other kids, she could not keep up. My happy, confident, playful child started to disappear. Now we were dealing with breakdowns, and when she was stressed she would dig her nails in her skin until she bled. It seems she retreated into herself and was moody and sad.

Mary is my 4th child. I wish she was my first. Then I may not have put so much focus what she could and could not do. I feel some responsibility in letting her confidence fade. All I ever focused on was what she couldn't do. I would never even think of comparing my kids to each other or to other kids. With Mary it was so hard because there is such a huge difference. When ever someone would ask how she was doing I would automatically say, "Well, she can't do this, can't do that, blah, blah, blah". All the while Mary is standing right there. I don't know exactly when I realized how horrible this was, but I tried my hardest to not do it anymore. I guess I figured she didn't understand, now I know I was wrong.

During the middle of the 1st grade, we withdrew Mary from the school her brother and sister attended, and placed her in a small private school that specializes in learning disabled children. Mary was clearly much happier, just changing schools and being with kids that were just like her. No more pressure to keep up. We continued with her therapies, tried dance, tried gymnastics, & piano lessons. I wanted so much for her to do the same things everyone else was doing. Mary could not keep up, and would become frustrated.

As Mary got older, her behavior became more odd. It just always seemed like there was something just not there, something missing. It was obvious that she was awkward socially. At school sometimes her brain would be on and she was o.k., and other times, she was off. Almost as if what she had just learned yesterday was foreign to her today. We started on ADD medication. What a tremendous help in keeping her focused! However, that worked for 2nd and 3rd grade. We are in 4th grade now, and everyday it seems life gets more difficult for us all.....

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