Wednesday, April 1, 2009

So Angry I'm Numb

Several years ago I had a three year-old boy in my class who just seemed "different." He was odd and smaller then the rest but the lead teacher told me 3 year olds can have a wide developmental span and I should not jump to conclusions. I pushed and said I thought the mom needed to know her child was not like the other children. I was told firmly to stay out of it.

This child is now 7 and in my current school. His mom is an assistant just like me for the other preschool classroom. When I saw her son again, I mentioned to my lead teacher (who had continued on as his preschool teacher when the former school I worked at closed) that I thought the boy needed to be tested. He just seemed odd to me. But I could never say what was wrong. He was developing in a forward pattern. He was learning skills and lessons. He had friends. Again, I was told to keep my my nose out of it.

Today I had to hold his mom in my arms as she cried inconsolably. Her doctor is sending her son upstate to a genetic specialist because he is fairly certain he has a rare, untreatable disease. A disease that leads to a slow, painful death. It would not have made a difference if this had been discovered at age 3 or now in a course of treatment. It would have made a difference in the mom's guilt at how she has felt at dealing with such a difficult child. It would have made a difference to have a teacher back her up when she tried to tell her pediatrician that she felt like something was wrong. It would have made a difference to her.

This is why I am seriously thinking of either leaving the teaching field all together or just working with troubled kids. I am tired of being told to keep my mouth shut. I don't think all kids have issues. I am just really observant and get to know a child very well. I listen and observe. Just because I don't have a teacher's certificate doesn't mean I'm not qualified to tell you if your child needs some support.

But I have been beaten down...and this...this leaves me numb. And more than a lot sad.


Jennifer George said...

Sounds to me like you have a gift. I hope you can find a way to use it.

Anonymous said...

Your lead teacher is something I won't say to a preacher's wife. Even if you are a former actress.

You did a good thing to console her. It is a shame we silence ourselves because we need jobs or less stress or just preserve sanity for one more day.

You do have a gift. Use it for good!

/ dw

FreeDragon said...

If you leave teaching altogether you won't be there to notice when something IS wrong with a child. Then the mother will be left wondering what kind of teachers fail to see a child's problems. There's nothing wrong with speaking up. If someone is not listening speak to someone else.

Anonymous said...

If your lead teacher had a shred of decency, which I don't think she has after reading about her on this blog, she should be deeply ashamed of herself.

/ dw

Anonymous said...

Hopefully next time you will speak with the parent directly instead of reporting to your lead teacher. Is there a law that says you cannot have a conference with a parent to discuss their child's developmental progress in school?

Erica said...

There was a segment on the Today show this morning about how the National Institutes of Health have made it a priority to improve the early diagnosis of developmental disorders, particularly autism. They're talking about intervening with kids as early as 6 months old. I think you really need to stick to your guns.

charli-tan said...

Your lead teacher is not the only one to blame. You and her cannot possibly be the ONLY TWO PEOPLE to interface with this child in the 7 years of his life. His pediatrician didn't catch this? His other teachers? His dentist? His barber? ANYONE? I have worked with SEVERELY troubled kids my whole career and I am hard pressed to believe that EVERYONE missed it.
Kudos to you for catching it and boo on your lead for being an ass. But where was everyone else?

charli-tan said...

P.S. There will always be bullies. You want to win? Go and get your teaching certificate in special ed. There is a real need for those who want it and grants out the yin yang for those willing to do it.
The reality of this field is that peoples egos almost always get in the way of the kids. If you want to help then you have to arm yourself. Unfortunately, that's just the way it is. It's very frustrating, but you have an aptitude. Arm yourself and stick with it.

Bubblewench said...

i bet you are numb. I am so very sorry. I know how bad it is to feel beat about something you are passionate about.

You are an amazing woman. Don't forget that part.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever think this is a message that you should just speak your mind and quit listening to other people stop you from doing what you think is right? That maybe this whole experience would give you the power to speak your mind the next time?