Monday, August 4, 2014

waiting for an answer

We applied to our local dayschool for 8 yo. We filled out all the paperwork. I told them that I do not have report cards, but I do have his schoolwork from the previous year. Then we waited to be given a screening. Without a screening, he cannot be officially accepted. We cannot investigate financial aid till he's accepted. So we waited for the day when the person doing the screening was available.

Meanwhile, the playgroup where I would like my daughter to go is looking for a year's financial commitment. I cannot commit until I know that 8 yo is accepted to this particular school. I am relying that they will be within a close proximity for each other for pick-up and drop off. The playgroup is running on school's calendar, so if 8 yo ends up in a different setting, I will be tied to two different calendars (not to mention whichever activities I'm trying to do with 10 yo).

The screening finally happened this past Wednesday. I dropped him off and got a phone call to pick him up when he was done. I did not coach him for the screening, and we did not review. Whichever questions he asked me about it, I answered honestly. Actually, the question he asked me on the way to the screening was: "What do you want me to be when I grow up?" I said: "A decent human being." "No, what kind of job do you want me to have?" (I knew that's what he meant.) "I do not care what kind of job you choose. I hope you will be happy doing it, and that it provides you with enough money to live on."

After the screening, I asked him how it went. He said that math was hard, and that writing made his hand hurt. He said that reading was "a cinch", and he was asked to read parts of "Baruch SheAmar" and "Yishtabach" which he knew, and the first pasuk of "Lech Lecha". He was told that he has good memory?! He was also asked whether he is familiar with grades, and he said, no.

The next day I got a phone call from the screener. She told me that he read and comprehended beautifully, but writing was a struggle, was I aware of that? He also managed to drop to the floor, get all tearful and upset. He did not write well, and reading unfamiliar Hebrew was another source of tears. Oh, and he moves a lot. Does he have an OT issue? I said that he was evaluated, but I never received the report. Then I was told that they recommend I get a psychoeducational testing done, to get to the root of his anxiety, because they need to come up with a plan on how to meet his needs. She went on how they used to require it of all the kids (not true) and that it is covered by the insurance (also not true). After listening to her for a bit, I said that we had something similar done. She got very excited and asked what kind of diagnosis was given and whether any medication or therapy was indicated. I said that the diagnosis was anxiety and there was no need for medication. I said that we have tried suggestions given by a psychologist. I also asked outright: are you going to accept him? She said that I should send the report over, and we should meet on Monday to talk over a plan.

I have been walking around for the past few weeks like someone with a sword placed on her neck. It has been very heavy. It is hard to plan the school year, not knowing whether he will be going to school or not. It is hard not knowing whether we have to magically come up tuition money or not.

Best case scenario: they accept him, I ask for it to be a probational period of six weeks, to see what being in a school environment means to him (and without committing financially for the whole year). After this time, if he's doing well, we continue; if not, we are searching for another option.

Worst case scenario: they tell us that they will accept him only if we agree to medicate, do therapy, hire tutors in his areas of weakness, while they get to determine whether he is conforming to their standards or not. We drive ourselves crazy trying to accommodate the school, while they might or might not be helping him. And we are stuck paying tuition plus additional services.

There are many in-between scenarios: he goes to a different Jewish school. He goes to public school (and we supplement Judaics). I hire a full-time teacher. I continue to homeschool him myself. I totally let him off the hook and we will pick up when he's twelve. Meanwhile, I start seeing a psychiatrist (because one of us will have to).

My family is surprised that he threw a fit during testing: "We thought he does that only for you. He would be too embarrassed to do it in front of the strangers." Thanks for a vote of no confidence! First of all, I have seen him in other settings, when he was asked to do things which he did not feel comfortable doing. He had no problem throwing a fit then. Second, he is a person of integrity: if he feels something, he will be honest about it, even if social norms dictate otherwise. Basically, he will not pretend to be OK about something that bothers him, even if there is a social price to pay.

So we are waiting...

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