Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hi, my name is Lisa; it's been three months since my last blog...

So much has gone on in my life over the last three months, mostly stressful, but I decided to start blogging again after a hiatus. This is a more personal one and cathartic in nature. Recently, I decided to finally sit down and write a review about a child care facility I enrolled my son in. Only when I went online to do so, I had to cut it down. Here is the gritty original that I think highlights the problem some parents face when your child isn't "normal," yet there's nothing really wrong with him. Yep, he's hyper and weird like his mom.

"A Step Ahead: more like one behind"

They completely ruined the first school experience for the child and parents. In short, if your kid follows rules, listens intently, is a child care veteran, or is a perfect angel, then this probably is a fantastic school. If your kid is high energy, has never been in child care, wants to be where the toys are, or is immature, STAY AWAY!

These are pros and cons in comparison to four other preschools I toured:
  • Pros—academic focus, clean facility, mature kids
  • Cons (for us at least)—no bathroom in classroom, a fully potty trained 3 year-old means no assistance at all and expected to go down to hallway bathroom, no teacher aide or floater to assist teachers (director steps in when needed, but didn’t sound happy about it in our situation), separate cafeteria, use Styrofoam, combine classes for eating and napping, uneven gender ratio (3-4 year olds at least—all girls, 1 boy), child got what looked like flea bites on his ankles the two days he went (we have no pets, hasn’t happened since), rigid routines without flexibility or backup plans for noncompliant children, high expectations for age group, and unprofessional with “problem” children.

The last one warrants an explanation. My son was premature, so has a social lag, is hyperactive, is an only child, and had never been in child care before. They were forewarned about him three times where I even wondered if they could handle him, was reassured “we’ve never had a problem,” and I found out why the hard way. If they treat any challenging child, the way they did ours, then they dismiss him/her. Only instead of simply taking the high road and admitting they could not handle him, they told me he “may be autistic and needed screening,” and after I assured them he had been screened, “there’s definitely something going on there.” That was the first day, a week later after being treated for an ear infection (probably the reason for his antisocial behavior), he returned. They dismissed him halfway in the day for being “out of control,” where I had to scramble around to find someone to pick him up and arrange for child care the remainder of the week. This time, they told us “he is mentally disabled and needs to be tested through the school system” and he needed “go to a special needs school” or “needs one-on-one care.” I cannot tell you how much this broke my heart, blew up my anxiety level, and saddened my son. They single-handedly ruined our first school experience; I can’t even look at the pictures that I took that first day without feeling bad. The one below was chosen because it was the only one that wasn't blurry from his excitement.

Looking for the school bus (although I was driving him)

The problem I have is they are not qualified or certified to diagnose children and after he was tested and did not fit on the ASD scale, the director said she could give us the 8-week period the doctor said it would take to adjust, but dismissed him without giving him a chance. I waited to write this review until we were sure it was them and not our child. After numerous doctor visits and evaluations and tests: social lag, ADHD candidate (but he doesn’t “check all the boxes” as the doctor phrased it—only impulsiveness and hyperactivity).

In his new school, it took him about 4 days to adjust but he is thriving and the specialist is happy with his social improvement. He is on par or excelled in all developmental categories with only a lag in social. This school has more outside play time and they allow him fidget toys in circle time, and they recognized right away that even when he’s playing, he’s listening.

I could just say this was a bad fit because that happens a lot, but when I tell other parents about my experience they are floored and appalled by the director’s audacity to say such things. Most people, including myself, have never heard of children being dismissed so quickly and without any aggressive or hurtful behavior (they freely admitted he wasn’t hurting anyone). She most likely thought she was doing the right thing, but I’m not sure how you can tell anything about a child in such a short time span or have the confidence to try to overrule a doctor’s and a specialist’s opinion.