Sunday, February 19, 2012

The full story

I am thankful that sometimes they way I see the world isn’t always the big picture, it isn’t always the full story, it isn’t always the complete truth.

So we have been struggling with some of Matt’s actions (I was tempted to call it his behaviour but I don’t think it is a bad behaviour issue). Three things are combining to make Matt too physical with other children. On the one hand he has just discovered that children are fun to engage with – but with the speech delay it is easier to push,  pull or prod than to find the right word and get it out in time before the other child moves on. Matt doesn’t know how strong he is, he doesn’t seem to be aware of how his roughness hurts other children- a life lesson still needs to be learned. Matt also seems to have some sensory need that draws him to physically touching, pinching and leaning on other children. I have analysed this from numerous angels and am convinced he is not trying to be malicious or intentionally hurtful.

This week I came to Matt’s class during morning circle ring to share some of Matt’s signs with his classmates. They were really receptive. On the other hand I saw Matt, overstimulated by being in close proximity to his friends, grabbing their arms, pinching their skin, leaning in on their laps – not all the time, but for enough time to make me very unsettled.

Very unsettled – I left wondering if I was expecting too much from Matt in this mainstream setting. Were his actions traumatising the other children, would they ever want to play with him? My mind was racing with possible solutions to help Matt contain himself during circle time, whilst still doubting our choice of schooling for Matt.

It is hard to summarise a whole week in a blog post with much happening in my heart and mind. So I will just skip to Friday and share two moments that took me by surprise, and made me realise that I only had one side of the story.

Moment 1:  Before Matt’s class starts parents can hang out for 15 minutes or so while the kids explore and play. Usually Matt and I do an activity together. This morning he was enveloped by 5 other kids, eager to play. Soon they were doing an impromptu ring-a-rosies, followed by flying around like butterflies, then morphing into frogs they were jumping around the front of their classroom. Matt mostly following the other childrens’ lead, sometimes initiating a new movement which the others then followed. Laughter. Giggles. Talking to matt. Matt holding their hands. Matt playing with children who liked him.

Moment 2: Meeting with Matt’s teacher after school she tells me that, yes Matt’s disruptive actions continue during circle time but she has found that he is calmer if he sits next to her. The other problem that has now emerged is that a number of his classmates fight over who gets to sit next to Matt –so much so that she has now resorted to drawing up a roster!

Seemingly all my worrying about Matt’s anti-social actions are not pushing the other children away. Sure they don’t like it, and they tell him so (which is good as he needs to learn). But that is not all they see in Matt, they see a whole much more. And seemingly all the other parts of Matt have charmed them, so much so that they are willing to fight over who gets to sit next to him.

So I am learning to keep in mind the bigger picture, and not just obsess with the challenge that lay before me.


Theresa Rushby said...

Matt is a treasure to have in our school and it is soheartwarming to watch the children all learning and interacting with Matt we are indeed blessed to have him with us.

Sysser said...

This truly brings tears to my eyes!! Love and hugs to all ♥

angie said...

We went through very similar actions with Emma at that age. I completely agree with you that it is more of a sensory issue than a behavior issue. Em's classmates were also very good about telling her that it hurt them, but not holding it against her. She is now a first grader, and for the most part those actions are gone. She is obsessed with long hair though and loves to touch it....which is sometimes viewed as pulling it:).

I'm so glad that Matt has teachers who are willing to work with you to help him to understand...that means everything in the world!!

HUGS to you! You're doing an awesome job!!!

Cindy said...

I'm so excited to read this post, Jacqui. It does put things in perspective when other kids fight over who gets to sit next to your kid, doesn't it!?!

Belinda Chaplin said...

Wow. I think that is all I have to say. It really looks like God has given you the insight you need at this stage to face the next mountains to climb on... I continue to be amazed at how much God is teaching us all through Matt.
Thank-you for sharing!! Bless you...

Debbie said...

While driving around today Niave says totally out of the blue "Matt is a very nice boy but he pats hard"!!!