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Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom: A speech delay, ‘bad’ behavior, and a new school year Featured

Written by  LaTesha Gonzales
Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom are those of LaTesha Gonzales. Join her on her journey of raising a child IntheNOLA. 
 
The 2017/2018 school year is coming up. And I’m nervous…
 
Last year was not the best year for Gabriel Gonzales. We moved Gabriel from a traditional daycare setting to a Montessori school. While we were very excited about his new school, we also knew that it would take some time for him to adjust to a new structure. In addition, his teachers had already warned us that because of his age (he was 2 at the beginning of the year and wouldn’t make 3 until September 22), he would probably need about 6-8 weeks to truly adapt to his new environment.


Six to eight weeks came and went, and another came and went, and another, and another, and another. We would literally beg him to be good before dropping him off in the morning, and then tiptoe into school to pick him up in the afternoon so that we wouldn’t hear about what he had done for the day.

One of the biggest reasons Gabriel had such a tough time, aside from his young age, was his speech delay. We noticed pretty early on (at about 18 months) that he wasn’t trying to say any words. So right at about 2 years old, we had him tested, of which he was found to have deficiencies in his expressive language, and he started speech therapy at the New Orleans Speech & Hearing Center (NOSHC).
 
With the new structure at school, although Gabriel excelled in some areas, he simply hated others. He speech began to improve since he was now in a class with 3-6 year olds and attending speech therapy once a week, but he was still having huge amounts of trouble communicating with his fellow classmates and teachers. Moreover, at Montessori, children are allowed to choose what they will work on, and he regularly chose the “works” (what Montessori activities are called) about bugs, animals, painting, or space. But when it was time to leave the “works” alone, my goodness, it was not pretty.
 
And when it was time to all sit together in a circle, it was not pretty. When it was time to do ANYTHING that wasn’t on his list of things to do, it was not pretty. Combine his overall stubbornness with his inability to effectively communicate and everything was simply not pretty. Crying, yelling, and whole body tantrums, both in school and at home, were his go-tos. And it was sooooo frustrating and confusing.
 
We agonized over if we had made the right decision. Should we have left him at daycare? Should we take him out and try to find a daycare for him in the middle of the year? Is he happy? How is this going to affect him in the future?
 
Then I started going down a real rabbit hole…maybe I didn’t eat enough healthy food when I was pregnant? What if the epidural had something do with it? Why didn’t I breastfeed more? Why didn’t I co-sleep more? What if he has serious behavioral problems? What if he has ADHD?
 
What if…? What if…? What if…? We like to have made ourselves crazy over the what ifs
 
We talked to our wonderful pediatrician, Dr. William Lister with House Call Pediatrics (yes, he comes to your house!), about his behavior and he did exactly what we needed him to do. Instead of fear mongering with us, he calmly explained that he sounded pretty normal. Yes, he had some issues with transitioning between activities and maintaining his emotional composure, but what 3-year-old didn’t! He said that he would have been more worried if we weren’t having some of these issues.
 
To assuage my other fears (because I’m a huge worrier no matter what), he did recommend meeting with the Tulane Center for Autism and Related Disorders (TCARD) for occupational therapy to perhaps help Gabriel cope with different situations. They have an extra long waiting list, so we’re still waiting to hear back from them.
 
In addition to his pediatrician, his teachers were always patient and kind, and reminded us that we had to remember that he was only 3 years old. Yes, he was definitely stubborn. Yes, he didn’t like to listen. Yes, he would cooperate only when he deemed he would cooperate. But at the end of the day, he was a 3-year-old boy.
 
Now that’s it been almost a year since Gabriel started school, his speech has dramatically improved in addition to his behavior. He’ll be 4 in September and his speech is probably that of a 3-year-old. With that improvement, the tantrums are less (although they still exist). One of the best things we did to help him was to implement using a timer. For example, if he’s watching television and his bedtime is coming up, we’ll say, “OK, Gabriel. When the timer goes off, it’s time to go to bed.” In that way, he’s much more amenable to doing what we need him to do.

Even though he’ll be entering his second year of Montessori school in a few weeks, we have decided to have him “repeat” his Pre-K 3 year. Last year for Pre-K 3, he was two going on three and this year for Pre-K 3, he will be three going on four on September 22.
 
This will make a difference for kindergarten because it means that he will spend an “extra” year in preschool before moving to kindergarten. Therefore, instead of being four going on five when it’s time to start kindergarten in a few years, he will be five making six. He’s incredibly smart, but we recognize his emotional maturity and feel that he will need more time before he’s ready to adjust to the “rigors” of kindergarten.

We would love for him to stay in Montessori school, particularly because of how it allows children to move at their own pace, but we’re also not opposed to the “no tuition” that comes with public school. Luckily, we have a few more years until we have to make that decision.
 
Until then, we’re just trying to make it all work. One day at a time. 

See LaTesha's previous posts:
Who’s ready to choose a New Orleans school? Not this NOLA mama…
Thanks to the baby for the high blood pressure
I kept Gabriel alive for a whole year! 
The reality of post-partum depression
Babies and boobies
An epidural saved my life. 
See LaTesha's previous posts:
There’s no turning back now!
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
I'm doing it ALL natural...
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
Gabriel is here!
An epidural saved my life. - See more at: http://www.inthenola.com/news/nola-living/item/3979-musings-of-a-first-time-nola-mom-babies-and-boobies#sthash.hsjYRrKr.dpuf

Gabriel is here!
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
I'm doing it ALL natural...
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
There’s no turning back now!

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 August 2017
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