Helicopter Mom

Your child is playing with my child on the playground. They looked like they were having fun, but something isn’t right. I start toward them.

“Helicopter mom,” you think as you roll your eyes.

“They’re just playing,” you say without any concern, when our elementary school children both have their hands on the same toy.

You think they need to sort it out for themselves. That I will get in the way.

You think they are playing a game. I can tell by my child’s face it is not.

He is defending his territory. But the toy is not his. If a fight ensues, it will not be because he wants to fight. But if he hits, he will be seen as the instigator. And I will be seen as the bad mom.

Your child will learn to stay away from my child. Another friendship lost.

He does not see how being territorial can damage relationships. In the here and now, his territory is all that matters.

Right now I am protecting him from himself. As I walk toward them, my child flails his arms at your child. I hope with all my heart that you didn’t see that. I hope you won’t judge me because of it.

I want my child to learn to share. I want him to manage his own emotions. I want him to have empathy for others.

I know you want the same thing for your child, and you see this as a teaching moment. But my son gets so wrapped up in emotion that playground lessons don’t stick.

That is why we teach him differently, about sharing, about empathy, about emotions. Because he cannot learn on the playground.

Your child plays with him later. Their play together is play. And I leave them alone, thankful that my child has a friend.

Yes, on the playground, I am a helicopter mom.

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Snow Free January Coffee

Good morning! Welcome. Pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee. I have good, solid coffee mugs, perfect for a strong cup of coffee. Today needs strong coffee. I apologize for all the clutter in the living room. Between school papers and IEP paperwork, there is paper everywhere that toys are not. And the toys are starting to have a hard time finding space.

If we were having coffee, I’m sure we would talk about the weather. For the past few days, forecasters have been giving dire warnings about the amount of snow predicted over the weekend. Between 4 and 6 inches. Paltry, I know, compared to Boston, but still a decent amount of snow. I was both excited, because we had not had significant snow this winter, and worried that school would be cancelled this morning. But there was no need to worry, apparently; now they are saying it will all be rain.

We would probably also talk some about policing issues in St. Louis. Have you heard about the crazy stuff happening here? On Wednesday there was a meeting, supposedly between adults, about establishing a citizen review board for the city’s police department. The papers call what happened a “melee” between protesters and police. No matter what happened, I’m sure that citizens will face charges while nothing will happen to the police officers who brought inflammatory messages to the meeting. And then on Thursday, I read that the city Prosecutor has demanded, by court order, any recordings of the meeting that news agencies have made. In a country that supposedly has free press, forcing news agencies to turn over their information to the government smells like an authoritarian regime. (And if that’s not enough, this is not the first time this week that the prosecutor has subpoenaed recordings from news agencies. Nor the first matter.) It smells very fishy, but I also wonder if this comes from a law student intern who is not being properly supervised.

I can see you’re getting bored, and eyeing my IEP paperwork. Please don’t look at that pile, it’s for a client. But this packet is for Picasso. We had a meeting to discuss his evaluation results–the school did an extensive evaluation to see if he qualifies for an IEP. The IEP will determine what special education services he will receive in the next year. He qulaifies–under the category Autism. When I told the pediatrician this at his annual appointment this week, she asked if I had told them that the developmental pediatrician (who evaluated him for autism when he was 2) told us to leave him alone. Despite his quirks, we had ruled out autism, so it was some surprise to hear this. But it fits. So suddenly I go from having a child with ADHD to a child with autism. I’m not given much time to think about this, either, because his IEP meeting is coming up Monday. (Hence my relief that snow will not cancel school on Monday.) My hunch tells me that he will receive more extensive services than he did last year.

Speaking of which, I have to cut our meeting short so I can prepare for the meeting on Monday. Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the other Weekend Coffee Share posts.

This post was prompted by the “If We Were Having Coffee” meme started (or at least encouraged) by Part Time Monster. I enjoy having coffee with you! If you want to share coffee, link up!

And again with the A word

I really don’t want to be sitting at my computer right now.

I want to be curled up watching Downton Abbey (slowly making my way through the series on Amazon. Very slowly, but I’m not in any rush.) and knitting. And eating chocolate cake. (The cake will be done in about 15 minutes.)

I don’t want to be doing CHADD stuff–replying to e-mails, being in contact with potential volunteers. There is suddenly a surge of stuff happening. Good stuff. But I can’t deal with it right now.

I feel like everything I knew about ADHD was wrong. I had thought we were dealing with ADHD with Picasso. I really thought he was going to be OK in a “typical” world.

And then … I saw him at the birthday party. He went to a classmate’s party over the weekend. It was clear he didn’t know what to do. The other kids were talking and playing together–and leaving him out. He got some weird looks. And he spent pretty much the whole time hanging on me. It was clear–he is the “weird kid.”

After that, plus some research I did this week, I was pretty much hoping for what happened today. That doesn’t make it any easier to hear, though.

Today was the school’s evaluation meeting. Picasso was given a diagnosis of autism. That label will stick with him, probably for the next twelve years of schooling. It will be teachers’ first impressions of him, even before they meet him in person.

I am angry–angry that this wasn’t caught before he was six; angry that we didn’t pursue more rigorous therapy before now.

I am lost. I know where to turn to get ADHD help. I don’t know where to get him help for autism, or even what help he needs. I want to do something for him, to help him learn to cope, but I am overwhelmed by the information about autism and the different therapies.

At the same time, I am relieved. I think that with this diagnosis, he will start getting more intensive therapy, and hopefully start having friends. His “weird kid” status will be explained. Yes, with a disability label, but I would rather people see his behavior as a disability rather than a choice.

The Label Makes a Difference

I think the initial shock of the word Autism has worn off.  It may have taken a few days, but a few days to process that kind of news is a pretty short time.  I think more of my anger is directed at the teachers for not saying it, not telling me what they suspect.  Even if they can’t diagnose, they know an awful lot more than I do and they know what autism looks like.  Even if they were later be wrong, I don’t think they would be as far off base as I was thinking ADHD. More

And the journey begins …

cc Ian Britton

Or maybe it’s just a new chapter in the journey.  Yeah, probably that.

I had a word dumped on me this week that leaves me shaken.  A word about my child that I didn’t expect to hear, certainly not in the conversation we were having.  A word that describes my child’s school’s understanding of him, which does not mesh with my understanding.

Autism.

How long?  How long have they thought he had autism?  Yes, I know he is different.  I know his behavior sets him apart. I had always thought–assumed–believed–it was ADHD.  Maybe severe ADHD.  But ADHD is a diagnosis I can handle. I can talk about ADHD.  I can understand ADHD.  I can handle ADHD so well that I’m the coordinator of our CHADD chapter.  No, ADHD doesn’t explain all of his struggles, but it is a start.

But autism?  That’s a whole different monster.

The guilt sets in.  Early detection and intervention is important.  It is key to living a good life, right?  To being able to function in a mainstream class, to not being so different that he can’t function in the world.  But this is not early detection.  He is five — FIVE, almost six.  And the doctors said when he was 2 that he doesn’t have autism.

But they also knew something was wrong.  And he’s been getting therapy for the past 4 1/2 years.

How long have they known?  How long have they been hiding this from me?  I feel betrayed.  I had thought we were on the same page, and it turns out we were not. At all.  They could hide behind words like “young child with a developmental delay.”  They could evaluate and not diagnose.  Because he is a young child and he has a developmental delay.

She used it so casually, as if it was something everybody accepted about him already.  It isn’t as a bad thing.  It just is.  She had no idea that the word–and its implications–were not put on him at home.

A diagnosis is not merely a set of symptoms.  A diagnosis is a word, a word that can change a viewpoint.

No wonder they were so impressed with how he behaves at school.  They have given him a word, and with it the expectations that follow from that word.  He is succeeding because he does not fall to those expectations.

 

What’s on my menu?

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