My little girl started Grade 1 today. She wore her sparkly new shoes, her sparkly top, her jeans with sequins on them and her sparkly belt. She had her Hannah Montana backpack and lunch bag and was more than a little terrified.
My daughter suffers from Anxiety disorder, OCD and ADHD. She may or may not be FASD as well, but we have to wait until next March to have that confirmed. The labels explain the why she is, but not the whose she is. They are part of her, but I'm not going to let them define her.
School is tough on my kid. She's a worrier. She is a perfectionist and she'd rather say she doesn't know than to get an answer wrong. Her OCD means that things have to be done a certain way every time, and if things change unexpectedly she can be thrown off for the day. IF something has been promised, then it must happen as promised or she can't cope. Life is full of unexpected changes, so I've tried to mitigate that as much as possible. If there is only a possibility of something happening, I don't mention it until it becomes a certainty.
My little girl is very intuitive. She knows when someone likes her, and she knows when someone doesn't. She wants everyone to like her. That's going to be hard on her-in fact, it already has been. One of the challenges with OCD is sometimes she fixates, and sometimes it's on a person. (If I never hear another word about Hannah Montana I'll be a happy person) If the person is someone that she has decided is her new BFF, and it's news to the other person, we have a problem. I have to let the fixation run its course, but I have a sad little girl in the meantime when her adoration is not returned.
We had a couple of really bad days this weekend, because school was weighing on my little girl's mind. She thought she had to know everything for Grade 1 the first day of Grade 1. Since I'm her mom, and I know nothing, I solved the problem by hauling out the Grade 1 and Kindergarten curriculum books I'd already purchased. We started with Kindergarten, and worked through some pages so she could see how much she had learned. Then I asked her whether she had learned things in Junior Kindergarten or Senior Kindergarten. She's a bright kid, and figured out the pattern quickly-that learning builds from stuff you already know. Then I grabbed the Grade 1 book and we flipped through some pages. She quickly discovered that she already knows a bunch of Grade 1 stuff too. Problem solved, at least for now.
I'm worried about test anxiety. I'm worried that the school will use the labels to define her, rather than to help her be her best. I'm worried that my kid will be stressed and anxious. She had a rough year last year, but over the summer, I got my sunny bunny back. I don't want to lose that kid again.
The school, teachers and principal will just have to get used to this face because they are going to see it alot. A good friend of mine, whose son has Downs Syndrome, tells teachers that "my child can't rise to low expectations." I like that. Yes, my kid has some challenges, but that is all they are. She's a kind, sweet, smart, loving, funny little fashionista with strong opinions. She will do great things, with a bit of help, a lot of support and love in abundance (and maybe the occasional trip by a stuffed bunny in a backpack.)
My little girl started Grade 1 today, and I couldn't be more proud.