I’ve never been that nervous about my son going to preschool. Okay, scratch that. When he was two, I was terrified. But that was because of his peanut allergy, not his tics. For almost a year, we didn’t know his tics were tics. We just thought he had a really funny way of squeezing things. The face he made as a baby was hilarious.
Looking back, I feel awful for not recognizing it. But that’s part of being a parent—especially a first-time parent. You don’t observe a funny baby behavior and immediately think, “oh my son has a tic disorder.” But one day I woke up and watched him do it for about two hours and called and made an appointment with our pediatrician.
For everyone, the ball gets rolling somewhere. For us, it was right when he turned two. At the time, I had no idea that our journey would be continuous. I thought our developmental pediatrician appointment would end with a neat, cut and dry diagnosis of some sort. (Blame it on my insane pregnancy hormones.)
But I’m getting off track. Now, two years later, after handfuls of doctor’s appointments and lots and lots of waiting, we have a better idea of what’s going on with my son. He has Sensory Processing Disorder, dozens of tics, and obsessive compulsive behaviors. This month, he's being evaluated for the autism spectrum.
What does all this mean? Right now it means that I’m slightly more of a freak about school. Will the accommodate his routines? Will he get in trouble for not being able to leave a certain activity until he’s done everything he needs to do first? Will his social anxieties impair his ability to play with other kids? Will my head explode from worrying about all this?
This morning at drop off, I pulled the teacher’s Aide aside and said in a hushed, serious tone, “How is he doing?”
She looked at me like I was crazy and smiled a big bright cheerful beautiful smile and told me, “He’s doing great! He’s adjusting so well. He’s doing SO great.”
It turns out he has amazing teachers. When he needs to do something, they let him “work through it.” They use that phrase a lot. After just two weeks they’re recognizing that sometimes he won’t come to circle time because he needs to arrange the housekeeping center a certain way or finish doing a puzzle a certain way or finish lining up crayons or blocks a certain way.
And it’s okay. He works through it, and then he participates.
Now it’s my turn to work through it, to have faith in him, in his teachers. To have hope.