Sometimes life doesn't go according to plan. Sometimes you find yourself on a road you never imagined you'd travel. Sometimes it can scare the pants off you. This is the story of how our little family came to be, continues to grow and how we (attempt to) manage the chaos.
Monday, May 23, 2011
All About Esen
This week school wraps up for my little monkey. I find it so hard to believe that in a few short months he'll be in Kindergarten! This has really been a great school year for Esen. I'll admit, I had no idea what to expect when it started. Then, when his teacher left just a few weeks in, I was worried it was going to be a really rocky year. He did great, though, overall and we not only made it through, but he really showed a lot of growth. Esen is a tough nut to crack sometimes. He's so darn intelligent and it's difficult at times not to expect too much out of him. It's necessary to constantly remind not only ourselves, but others working with him that while part of his brain is functioning years beyond his chronological age, there are damaged parts that hold him back in other areas. I can see how it would be so easy for a teacher to lose patience with him or to just write him off as "naughty."
Our society wants so badly to categorize and label our children. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on who you talk to), Esen doesn't fit any sort of mold. There have been diagnoses casually tossed around for years - Neurologic damage, Sensory Integration Disorder, ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Failure to Thrive, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Aspergers, and the list goes on. While he fits some of the criteria for all of the above, he doesn't truly fit the diagnostic picture for every one of them. For most parents and teachers, scenarios like this can cause a lot of stress. Most parents want their kids fixed. Most parents want to be able to make excuses for their kids and give them a pill. We're a little different that way, perhaps. We have been pushed on multiple occasions into 'exploring' medication for Esen. We have yet to succumb to the pressure. We have managed his behaviors through therapy techniques and his new IEP and we plan to continue. In fact, we will fight to continue. I have seen far too many children, especially little boys, labeled and medicated instead of provided with therapy and resources. I have seen their little personalities disappear and their little spirits vanish. Little children should not be turned into walking zombies nor should they be medicated into submission because it is more convenient for parents and teachers or simply because we want them to behave in a more socially acceptable manner. I'm not saying there is NO place for medication, I'm just saying it should be a last resort, not a first line choice.
A huge reason Esen has had a successful start to his school career is definitely his 4K teacher. Once the permanent teacher came on board, everything fell into place. We were thrilled to learn that the new hire was actually one of Esen's former Birth-to-Three educators. He has gone so far above and beyond our expectations over the past eight months. He has shown compassion, patience and respect for Esen. He has helped to foster Esen's spirit and learning and has never once made us feel like we needed to make him conform. I get the feeling that perhaps Mr. J was a little like Esen as a child - highly intelligent, a little rambunctious, perhaps a little quirky. Whatever the reason, he seemed to take the time to really try and understand Esen and that is what makes a great teacher! He went to bat for us, stood up for Esen's rights and was instrumental in getting Esen's IEP established. For that, I will always be grateful. I wish he could go on with us to Kindergarten because we will so miss him!
I am so excited to see what the future holds for my crazy oldest kiddo! He is so remarkable in so many ways. I learn something new from him every day and each day is definitely a new adventure.