Many of the more obvious physical and educational handicaps are being addressed through the Special Education Department. But what about the child who has emotional impairments? These children are most often viewed as being difficult to handle, or having bad behavior. Rather than looking for the basis of the problem, the children are disciplined the same way other children are in the classrooms. Anyone with any trauma/attachment disorder training will know that isolating, restricting, or sending them to the principal’s office for a stern talking to is not going to work for these children. They need the positive reinforcement for what they are doing right, not on what they have done wrong.
We began our contact with special services when my grandson showed signs of delay when he came to us at two years of age. He was evaluated by our local Early On, 0 to 5 program and they helped us during that first summer. He had two mostly uneventful years of pre-school, but when he started all-day-every-day kindergarten the bottom fell out. Going to “real” school was a trigger for whatever it was that he experienced before he was able to talk. It wasn’t just separation anxiety, but real fear and distrust. He could not be calmed down, and could not be touched without striking out. He had sensory disorders, showed signs of being on the autism spectrum, ADHD, social isolation, and a total inability to perform the simplest school tasks. I was at a loss. This was not the child who had adjusted so well to life with Grandma and Papa. We had not experienced these behaviors prior to this. We tried half days of school, me staying at school with him, dietary changes, quiet rooms at school, time outs at home, but everything resulted in an escalation of his behavior. Eventually, he chose to be an angry kitty cat, crawling out of his classroom into others, hissing, biting, and scratching. It was time to do something when the school called and said he had run from the social worker into the street where the principal caught him, carried him to his office, which he proceeded to trash.
About this same time I was taking a training in early childhood trauma and its effects. It was my “aha” moment and I began to explain some of my grandson’s story to the principal and asked him to contact our Intermediate School System and ask for a Review Existing Evaluation Data, or REED, as soon as possible. We also engaged a private therapist who had been trained in childhood trauma by Dr. James Henry. My grandson was observed, evaluated, and we were interviewed. The therapist also tested him and one of the results was that in spite of only a partial testing, his IQ was far beyond a five-year-old.