Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Step One, Find a Compassionate Teacher

LeiLei and JayJay started preschool this year and I would love to say that it is going remarkably well, but I can't. The first two weeks were a bit of a struggle for LeiLei but by the third week she really began to adapt to her new setting. I am sure you can imagine the sadness I felt Monday afternoon when I went to pick our girls up, and the teacher gently grabbed my elbow and whispered, " we need to talk".

Their classroom has a one way mirror large enough for about four moms to stand at and observe what is going on in the classroom. At first I thought it was really cool, now I realize you don't always want to know what is going on in there. The first day of school the kids were doing circle time, singing a good bye song. I realized LeiLei was not in the group. She was sitting in a chair scooting it backwards across the classroom. All I could think was, bummer. The next day all looked well during their good bye circle time. As soon as teacher opened the door LeiLei went into one of her episodes. She was demanding to paint, I explained to her that we could paint at home, but that was not computing in her little mind. Then came the wet noodle child, all limbs go loose and its all you can do to pick the child up. At that point the moms were sympathizing with me as well as teacher, all telling me that starting preschool is a lot for a child to take in. I wish that was what we were experiencing but I knew differently. I knew LeiLei was on the verge of 'checking out'. I refer to her episodes as 'checking out' because that is the best way to describe it. You immediately see the change in here eyes, it is as if LeiLei has left her body. Her eyes become emotionless while her body is in tantrum mode. As a mom it is difficult to watch, because you know she has an internal battle going on, and only she can bring herself out of it.

The next two weeks went rather well. I was beginning to feel like maybe I am overreacting. Then Monday happened...

LeiLei decided to open the door to the classroom, and take herself for a little walk in the school hallways. It was not long before teacher and her assistant realized LeiLei was gone. The assistant quickly found LeiLei and brought her back to the classroom. Teacher then told LeiLei that the door is off limits only teacher is allowed to open and close the door. Needless to say it happened two more times. When the assistant brought her back in the third time, LeiLei went into an episode. Complete with hitting and kicking the door, and eventually 'checking out'. Teacher also got to witness LeiLei's 'stress laugh'. When LeiLei  'checks out' it is sometimes accompanied with a 'stress laugh'. Have you ever heard someone start laughing in the middle of a stressful situation? It is not a joyous laugh, it is a stress laugh. Well, that is what she does.

We are very fortunate to have our kids in a private school, and we will continue to do so as long our finances allow. There are less than a dozen kids in their classroom, and the teacher has an assistant. Discipline is left to the discretion of the teacher, unless of course the situation becomes dangerous then the principal becomes involved. Had this occurred in most other schools I would have been called in to the principals office. Instead the teacher and I discussed how the teacher might better help LeiLei, now there is a switch right? Not the teacher telling me how to help LeiLei... Teacher then gave LeiLei a giant hug, and she reassured LeiLei that teacher loves her. She then told LeiLei that both she and LeiLei are going to work extra hard at being good on Friday.

In retrospect Monday was the perfect storm for LeiLei. We had been camping all weekend, we celebrated her birthday, we had a weather change, and for some reason most of the kids in the class happened to have extra energy that day causing a lot of busy energy inside the classroom. For a child that has issues with coping it was just too much.
We had already scheduled her 4 year well child appointment for Tuesday which was perfect timing. This time I came to the appointment with a video in hand. The doctor was able to witness one of LeiLei's episodes, which was so helpful. We were able to get a referral to a Behavioral Therapist who will helpfully show LeiLei and us how she can better cope with life. We have spent at least a year trying to explain to people that we are  pretty sure LeiLei has FASD, and possibly PTSD or a mental health issue.  We are still trying to be accepted into the Fetal Alcohol Clinic at one of the University's in our state. Once we have a proper diagnosis we will be able to help her accordingly. Until then I am thankful for her Teacher who is so understanding.


  1. Poor baby. She's had a rough start in life. You are wise getting help with this. You have no idea what transpired in her life before she became a part of your family. Sounds like she's found a way to cope that she thinks works for her. Although, of course it no longer does. Give her a big hug from her Uncle Rudi and Aunt Linda

  2. ILY.... hang in there... you are headed in the right direction with Leilei... and she will be a wonderful adult when she grows up thanks to your loving care.
    Blessing to the teacher who understands and works with you to help Leilei on her path.

    1. Lets hope! She is a patient woman...


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