Let me first say that Conner's school has been AMAZING so far. They have done so much more for him than I ever imagined. The staff is great and loves him and takes care of him. It's not perfect and some days are better than others but for now, he is in a good place. His teacher is absolutely the best. I don't really know the other two teachers, but I feel like Mrs. D is just a wonderful person, teacher and the best possible teacher for Conner to have. That has made this transition to elementary school so much easier.
Conner now gets OT and Speech at school 2 times a week each. He started getting Adaptive P.E. and loves going to that once a week. He goes with 2 older kids and he loves the extra attention and physical activity indoors (he doesn't love being cold on the playground and it's during recess). He is also going to the Resource Room when necessary. We think he is getting Social Work services to help him deal with the situation that arises when other kids can't understand him. He gets very upset when you can't understand what he is saying and he needs some tools to deal with that. So, he is very well taken care of. There is a special education paraprofessional that visits his room during the day and will sit with him when she can to help him one on one. She is shared between all the kindergarten rooms, so I'm not sure how much he works with her. The staff is wonderful and we have been so pleased.
The biggest issue for Conner is that there are 25 (used to be 26 and I'm assuming they will go back to 26 by January) kids in his class and one teacher. He has significant ADHD and it has been very hard for him to stay focused at school. I'm not sure there is a solution to this problem. If you combine this problem with cerebral palsy and Conner's difficulty with using his hands (writing/cutting/etc.), it makes things a little more challenging. He also does not seem to be connecting with the kids in his class. He is so friendly and social but the kids don't seem that receptive to him. All I want for him is to make friends and to be happy. The staff love him. I wish the other kids would give him a chance.
We visited a new neurologist in September after having a terrible experience with our old neurologist. We tried to get Conner in to a U of M neurologist and he still does have an appointment scheduled for June 2014 (I made the appointment in July 2013) but we are thrilled with the doctor that we found. The first order of business for him was weaning Conner off the seizure medication he was on all summer. The doctor said that there are 2 reasons he should not be on this particular medicine. First, he has never had a visible seizure so we should not be treating an EEG. The medicine he was on was doing nothing for him. The second reason to take him off, was that this particular seizure medicine exacerbates ADHD symptoms. So the whole reason we were at a neurologist in the first place was for ADHD and the doctor gave us a medicine that makes it worse. I feel horrible that we even started the medicine in the first place. It took a month to wean him off. We noticed a difference as we lowered the dose.
We also have tried three medications for ADHD. I was so resistant to trying anything but it became very apparent once school started that it was very necessary. The neurologist wasn't sure anything would work and his hope is that Conner will eventually outgrow some of his impulsivity but he felt like we had to try in order for Conner to be successful in school. The first two medications we tried, both stimulants, were a disaster. The first caused rage (and Conner gave himself a black eye the one day we gave it to him) and the second medicine caused crying, mood swings and uncontrolled tongue movements. I was feeling very disappointed and was losing hope. I emailed our new neurologist, who is so fantastic and emails me back so quickly, and he said we should try a non-stimulant. I was hesitant. We started the third medicine on a Friday. The doctor said it could take a week or more to notice anything. We dealt with some side effects - sleepiness and diarrhea, but I felt like it was working and we stuck it out to see if those symptoms would get better and they did. We are noticing HUGE differences at school and at therapy. His teachers and therapists are also noticing a difference in his stuttering, which although it is still severe, he is having less tension in his neck when he speaks. For once, we feel hopeful. We feel like Conner has a chance at school to learn and succeed. These issues we deal with are so stressful and to have something help is such a relief. We are hoping it stays this way.
These things may not seem like a big deal. But as parents, we are so tired. We are so tired of all these things that Conner has to continue to go through on a daily basis. School and learning and making friends is a big deal to a Kindergartener and we pray every day that he is happy and enjoying his life.
We are all looking forward to the holiday break so we can spend some time together. We really miss Conner when he is gone all day and look forward to our Starbucks dates, movies and time to play together.
Running with a teacher (another K teacher, not his!)
Running with his awesome principal!
Forest Fun Run 2013