Lunch Bunch Dropout
January 17, 2008
So I quit Lunch Bunch yesterday. And the one-on-one occupational therapy.
(The eyeballs of several trolls just rolled completely out of their heads and out into traffic. Quick! Run after them!)
I pretty much knew it was time to quit after last week, and then Noah's success in his Thursday Non-Lunch-Bunch class confirmed what I already suspected: Noah did not like his occupational therapist, and she didn't quite seem to like him very much either, and no, the marriage could not be saved and was probably doomed from the day she walked into our house and then tried to rub his face with the duckie washcloth 15 seconds after saying hi.
We moved OT from our house to the early intervention center. We added group therapy and a special ed teacher and yet, no progress.
I should have listened to my gut and just called and requested a new therapist. But lo, I am pussy, hear me puss out. I kept giving it one more week, another try, another chance for Noah to snap out it because dude, she hasn't touched your face in months! Chill out. Eat some pudding.
Then last week she called him a brat.
She. Called. Him. A Brat.
I cannot even tell you what it felt like to hear that -- especially after weeks of frayed nerves and nonstop worry; especially hearing it in the one place where special needs children are supposed to be understood and accepted. But because Noah was not getting any better, she decided that it was not her, it was him. Since she'd been unable to help him, his panic and screaming and refusal to do anything she asked were not sensory at all, but were "just him being a B-R-A-T."
I guess I should give her points for spelling it, since Noah was within earshot. But my heart clenched and my hair stood up on the back of my neck and Dear Internet Confessional, I have never, ever come so close to whipping my earrings out and lunging at someone's hair.
But instead, I just. Sat there. Dumbfounded. Because...mother h. fucker, Noah is one of the least bratty children in the world, swear to God, and I would really tell you if I believed otherwise. He is strong-willed, he is sensitive, he is difficult in his own difficult-to-define way. He is also calm and meticulous, empathetic beyond his years, loving and affectionate and just an all-around sweetheart. (I know, I know, he is also the most beautiful child who ever walked the earth and the smartest and his poop smells like flowers blah blah mama-delusion-cakes.)
I'm so disappointed that I just sat there. I think I maybe stammered that...uh...actually I don't think so, I think there might be some TRUST ISSUES at play here (what with her insistence that if we just forcibly hold him on top of the exercise ball, eventually he'll stop being scared of the exercise ball, GAH GAH GAH DID YOU LEARN EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT SENSORY INTEGRATION DISORDER FROM THE BACK OF A CEREAL BOX?).
I should have said something else, or marched down to the office and demanded a new therapist right then and there, but I didn't. I sat there, in a little crumpled pile of defeat.
And then, Thursday.
That occupational therapist told me that Noah did need support to stay with the group, but she gave him that support and he stayed with the group. And he needed a lot of extra time to process transitions. While they gave the rest of the class a one-minute warning between activities, Noah got one at five minutes, and four, three, two and one. He needed time alone when he got overwhelmed -- they let him hide under a slide for a few minutes whenever they sensed the noise of the room was starting to get to him. Every teacher in the room was willing and able to help him, and he clearly adored them by the end of the hour. One hour, and total preschool-ready victory was achieved.
And then, yesterday. Lunch Bunch. With her. Once again, an exhausting, tantrummy mess. Noah did sit for awhile (only after some help from a random therapist who was there to observe) and fed some plastic fruit to a puppet. But it was obvious that he was not being all he could be. She suggested that perhaps we should drop all this and let Noah focus on his Thursday class. She told me I could think about it.
I thought about it. Five minutes later I signed the paperwork agreeing to end OT services. It felt good. It was the right thing to do.
The right thing for NOW, anyway. Let me say, while the therapy itself was usually kind of tortuous, there's no denying that Noah is a totally different kid now. Her bedside manner may have left something to be desired (she actually always sort of reminded me of my very first lactation consultant, a woman who can still make me cry just by passing by me in the pediatrician's office hallway), but she gave us tons of stuff to try and activities to do and ways to incorporate therapy into everyday play. And it all worked. I mean, SLIDES. HE GOES DOWN SLIDES. He jumps! He walks up the stairs sometimes! He no longer toe-walks and rarely falls. He eats...well, he eats a few more things, but no longer seems completely repulsed by certain textures or the feel of a fork. We will continue with the class on Thursday, and if I think he needs more OT services, I will request them from the therapist from there. Noah gave her a hug last week. I think he likes her. I like her. But I think we've cleared that particular hurdle.
While his speech started improving almost immediately after we started Early Intervention, we only really got the big language explosion AFTER we saw the OT-related improvements. Maybe I should have switched therapists, maybe it could have been easier, maybe it all would have corrected itself on its own. In the end, though, I can't argue with success, however we found it.
I officially enrolled Noah in a preschool this morning. And I think the little brat is going to do just fine.