We always said we’d let Oli settle into his new environment (read about his move to a remedial school here) before reassessing his diagnosis. Moving Oli to the school he’s in now has been the best thing for him. He was placed with the most perfect teacher for him with the most incredible group of therapists to support him. The class size is a third of what he was in last year and for someone with Auditory Processing Disorder that’s immediately a huge help.
He has multiple group therapy sessions during class time throughout the week and being in constant contact with the teachers and therapists if I need, helps me feel the support structure I know surrounds him. Together we’ve set goals as a team for Oli for the year, that didn’t need to be academic. Starting a new school is hard (for me too!) – it’s been learning the new way of doing things, new rules, teaching practices and timetables, but we really feel like we belong. These teachers and therapists genuinely are heaven sent – this isn’t just a career for them, it’s their calling, and the kids, in particular, Oli, can feel it. A couple of weeks into the new school year I asked Oli if he preferred the previous school or the new school – he said the new school (although he missed all his friends) because he felt safe. SAFE. Isn’t that all we want our children to feel?!
Towards the end of the first term Oli’s teacher and I chatted about how Oli was settling. Being able to have so much one-on-one time she had definitely noticed his distraction. We know Oli has battled with anxiety (something I do too) but we had never noticed ‘distraction’. Sometimes anxiety in a class situation can present as distraction and isn’t necessarily ADD or ADHD so she referred us to the most brilliant psychiatrist for a series of consults. Oli took to this new doctor immediately – he said he felt like he was chatting to his Grandpa (Oli loves his grandpas!) and we decided to try him on a much higher dosage of Ritalin than what he had originally trialled without any effect last year. The change was remarkable. I began getting messages from his teacher and therapists saying what an incredible change they had noticed in him after starting the meds in his work ethic and his overall emotional behaviour. In the begin all I noticed was what a chatty Cathy he became. He wouldn’t stop talking. Spewing words! Then I noticed the increased self-awareness and maturity, concentration and drive. For me, the most important result was discovered late one evening (Oli battles to sleep at his previous 7pm bedtime now) when we were lying in bed chatting (again!). I asked Oli how he was feeling on the meds and how his anxiety was – his response validated the importance of the medication for me, something I don’t take lightly. He responded saying he didn’t feel like he had any anxiety anymore.
With this pandemic the only thing I’ve worried about is Oli missing all his therapy sessions and time with his teacher. This child has made such strides this year already (he got a wonderful report at the end of Term 1) and it’s the only thing that worries me. We do school work together every day – including remedial work his therapist has sent specific to him, he’s loved, safe and surrounded with things to stimulate his mind and imagination but I’m no therapist or teacher. It’s definitely not my calling I’m afraid. But we’re doing our best to manage and keep up and for now that’s all we can do. I don’t know when we’ll be back in a school environment but do know whatever happens, Oli’s on the right path – sometimes a diagnosis evolves, something new is thrown into the mix, and that’s okay! I couldn’t be prouder to be this little man’s Momma.