6 year old girl - impulse & sensory issues, homesickness
My daughter is young for her grade (1st) - she turned six a few weeks before the school year started. She had two years of nursery school and a year of half day Kindergarten.
At parent/teacher conferences in nursery school, there was always made mention of her inability to sit and listen during circle time. Lots of fidgeting and a lack of focus. At the time, my husband and I just chalked it up to her being 3 & 4 years old. She's a healthy girl with no allergies, no issues, nothing particularly out of the ordinary in our household. She was also in daycare until she was 2 - she seemed to love it there (never cried when I dropped her off, just scurried off to play) and was always off happily doing her own thing when I came to pick her up at the end of the day.
The one issue that she has always had is sensory. It started when she was around 2. She hates jeans. They're scratchy. She hates tags. They're itchy. She hates most shoes unless they're sandals or flip flops. Everything "feels funny". It's a constant struggle getting ready for school every morning when I know she's going to hate every pair of shoes I put on her.
We moved to a new town the summer before she started Kindergarten. She seemed to really enjoy school. Around December we started getting calls from the school and things went downhill from there. The first incident was because she glued herself to her chair with a gluestick. She wanted to see if she would stick. Another time she was cutting her clothes with scissors. One time she tried to cut through the table. She wanted to see if the scissors would cut through things that weren't paper. This actually happened a few times. Other issues that prompted phonecalls were usually impulsive in nature - she would get up while the teacher was talking and go to another area of the classroom, different things like that. Another time she took all of the signs (one at a time, day by day) with the other childrens' names off of the bulletin board and hid them behind the cubby. She said she liked the new signs the teacher made when the old ones got lost. They were prettier.
Through all of this, she did well in school. Her reading was right on track, she could perform basic addition when we asked her problems. Besides the academic progress, she was (and still is) very inquisitive. She wants to know why, and how. About everything. Some of her favorite things to learn and ask about involve the solar system, physical properties like gravity and time (the concept infinity always interests her). She likes to tell me at breakfast that right now people in China are sleeping. Then she wants to know what time it is in other places in the world. She once asked us what we thought would happen if gravity and infinity became entangled together. This was last year, when she was 5.
It seems like her impulsiveness is made worse by the fact that her brain moves at lightning speed. It's like she can't slow it down enough to focus. She gets easily frustrated to the point of a tantrum if she can't do something perfectly the first time. We can't get her to understand the idea of "practice" and how you have to learn A, B, and C in order to learn "S, T and U". She wants to know everything NOW, and learning the basics is so mundane to her that she just gets angry. I know she's very smart, but her frustration holds her back from learning at times.
Things got bad enough at school with the impulsiveness & behavior issues that the teacher recommended a Connors Evaluation. She filled out a form and our daughter was observed by the school pyschologist for a day. We weren't asked to complete any part of the eval. It came back with high scores for probable ADHD and some big time social issues. It seems she doesn't know how to play with a group, and when she plays with other children, she wants to control every aspect of the game. If the other kids don't want to follow her rules, she is quite content to play alone. We took the form to her pediatrician as that was the end of what the school would do for us. The pediatrician told us that the Connors Eval was at best vague and not a definitive answer to her problems. He referred us to a behavioral therapist. This was last May at the end of the school year. We finally got an appointment with the therapist, but the wait list is so long that our appointment isn't until this coming March.
It's now October of her first grade year, and I got my first phone call from the new teacher yesterday. My daughter is misbehaving in school. We had a talk with her last night. According to her, she gets in trouble for doing things like breaking the crayons and chewing the pencils. She's not really prone to fib, but if that's all she's doing wrong, it seems like something that can be handled without a phone call home during school hours. (I haven't been able to reach the teacher yet). My daughter insists she hasn't been in trouble for anything else.
We still have a lot of the same issues (that were mysteriously absent over the summer) getting ready for school in the morning, mostly with her shoes & socks. Every morning she gets angry and frustrated with her shoes to the point of tantrums. I've tried a variety of styles all to no avail. She's been measured at the shoe store and they are well made shoes. So I know it's not the fit.
During our talk last night, she said some really heartbreaking things. She has always told us that she has trouble remembering. When we were talking, she said she doesn't know why God made her broken. Why she can't "lock" things in her brain like other kids. Why she has a bad brain when the other kids in her class have a good brain. She said she can see things in her head, like all of the letters of the words she's going to say, swirling around like they're in a storm and then she says the words and they come out of her brain. She said that's why her brain "doesn't lock". She said other kids don't want to play with her in school, and during recess she doesn't know why all the kids run around and yell and scream. We asked what she does during recess, she said she goes to her favorite thing on the playground and plays on that. We couldn't help but wonder if she spends a lot of her time alone during the day, which made us very sad and left us feeling very helpless. On the other hand, when I've been in her school for various functions (open house, etc) I've seen other kids walk by her in the hall, smile and call her by name. So I don't get the feeling she is disliked.
She also has a 4 year old sister who will be in Kindergarten next year. She told me this morning that she's sad that her sister gets to stay home and have fun while she's in school all day. So I think homesickness is playing a big part in this too. She's spent the last two years telling us she hates school and doesn't want to go.
I know that my own frustration is probably hindering things as well. My fuse is shorter than it should be, and I have trouble not taking these behaviors personally. It takes my husband (who is far more levelheaded and less emotional) to remind me that she's not going out of her way to irritate me. I try to remember that she probably can't help these things, but without a diagnosis or evaluation, I can't tell if she's misbehaving or if she's really got some issues.
I apologize for the extensiveness of this post, I just wanted to make sure I got all of the details in to see if any sense can be made of this. I feel like we're kind of floating out there with no help until our appointment in March, which leaves a big chunk of the school year to go with no assistance of any kind. I've tried to get in to see other doctors as far as 3 hours away and have had no luck. It seems like there's no help to be found from anywhere for the next 6 months, and I'm starting to get worried about where this is going to leave our family.
Sometimes it is hard to get into to see people, a lot of other people are having issues too and waiting, so remember you are NOT alone.
Yes, the phone call seems a little weird over what you described. I would try to stay in close contact with the teacher and if you pick her up , see if you can talk to the teacher once or twice a week. Stay proactive.
Have you ever thought about getting her evaluated for Sensory Processing disorder. My son has the same issues about shoes, right now, he still wants to wear sandals all the time, but it will be getting cold soon.
Do you have a childrne's hospital nearby? Are you in a rural area?
What about getting her on an IEP? Or does the school have a behavioral specialist who could come in and give some suggestions. Some of it seems like she is bored.
She doesn't necessarily sounds like ADHD, be aware that many things in kids look like ADHD, etc.
Sometimes behaviors happen due to anxiety. School is hard for kids, esp the younger kids.
Just do not start picking her up, they did that with my son last year, called and demanded I pick him up and then he would start to act out even worse.
I would just call and see about meeting with the teacher and/or calling her so you can make yourself known and be there to get info if needed. Show them you want to be involved in the process.
It's tough. I';m sure she is not the only one struggling in the classroom.
It seems like she knows she is not like the other kids. I would seriously look into getting an OT to evaluate her for Sensory processing disorder. Call you MD and see if he/she can help you get that set up. Also, look at teh book, "The OUt of Sync Child" as well.
They said my son tested "borderline" for ADHD and he has sensory issues. The pediatrician was ready to prescribe Ritalin. I alrady had an appt with a child psychiatrist, the psychiatrist did not feel like my son had ADHD and did not want to prescribe the meds. He told me it might make his problems go away for a little while adn him to seem better, but it would not get at the root of the issues. True.
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