Nursery conversation (or: Yes, I still can’t think of any interesting post titles, so sue me)

Some stuff that was initially on the end of the last post, but seemed to have turned into a post of its own:

In preparation for Jamie’s assessment, I was debating the pros and cons of telling the staff at his nursery
about it and asking for any
opinions they can add on the subject.  (Pros – when a child is being
assessed it’s useful to get opinions of people who see him in different
settings.  Cons – once labels enter the picture, that can affect the
way people see other people, and I was a little leery of opening up
that potential can of worms.)  I came down once again on the side of
not saying anything for now and waiting to see how it goes, but what I
hadn’t taken into account was that the staff at his nursery are quite
on the ball enough to notice things for themselves.  I guess I’ve read
too many of those true-stories-of-life-with… books in which the
parents always seem to have to battle for years to get anyone else to
notice that there’s a problem.  Anyway, the week before last Manda, one
of the nursery supervisors, called me aside to tell me that she and the
nursery staff had been noticing a couple of things about Jamie they
wanted to discuss, and what did I think?  What I thought was that there
wasn’t much point not discussing it if they were noticing for
themselves that there was something off-kilter, so, after listening to
what she had to say, I filled her in on our suspicions of ASD and the
upcoming planned assessment.

It was a very helpful conversation.  For starters, it was a good
example of how useful it can be to get opinions from different people
observing a child in different settings.  The two things they’d noticed
were that when Jamie concentrates on something, he’s off in his own
little world and it can be very difficult to get his attention, to the
point where they wondered about a hearing problem (which I know is not
the case, because his hearing was tested when we investigated his
former speech delay and it was found to be normal); and that he seems
to show no real interest in the other children, even though they would
be expecting him to do so by this stage.  The first was something I’d
also wondered about, but was one of those things that it’s hard for a
first-time parent with no reference points to gauge, and so that was
one issue where it was easier for the nursery staff to notice that he
does this to an extent which is out of the ordinary.  The second one
came as no surprise to me, but, again, was something that I just
wouldn’t have been in the same kind of position to notice.

Manda suggested that, since Carol was doing an assessment anyway, if
it was OK with me they could contact her to explain their concerns and
even invite her along to watch Jamie for a nursery session to see what
he was like in that setting.  She also said they’d had children with
similar types of problems before and mentioned some of the things the
nursery could do to help.  For example, there’s the visual timetable,
which I’d heard about before when I went to an open evening at the
nursery last term – a set of little pictograms representing the
different activities of the day that the staff attach to Velcro strips
on the wall each morning so that it’s easy for the children to see
exactly what’s going to happen that morning and in what order.  She
said they also put stuff on the walls about different emotions and what
they mean, and they have a picture-card system for helping children to
communicate when they want to be friends with other children.  The
really cool thing is that these are not interventions for a select
group of Children With Problems.  They’re available for all the children.  Anyone who would find them helpful can use them.

I signed the permission form for the nursery to contact the HV,
after first amending its worryingly vague wording (it gave blanket
permission for the nursery to pass on information about my child to
any, utterly unspecified, outside agency unless I had specifically
excluded that particular agency on the form.  I changed that carefully
to state that they had permission to contact our health visitor Carol
N___ and that I would like to be contacted regarding any desire the
nursery had to pass on information about my child to any other outside
agency.  Manda agreed with me that the wording of the form was a
concern, and she thinks she may contact the people in charge of such
things about this – apparently I am not the only parent who has queried
this.)  The nursery did speak to Carol and she has taken due note but
turned down the offer to observe Jamie at nursery – as she points out,
it wouldn’t really add anything.  Since the evidence already seems to
be adding up to him having some form of ASD, the decision now is
we get him referred to someone officially qualified to make that
diagnosis or not, and, since Carol isn’t that person, getting her to
watch a session at his nursery wouldn’t move things any further
forward. Fair enough.

And one last thing: as we were saying our goodbyes and I was heading
out the door, Manda said to me "He’s a delightful little child, isn’t
he?"  It was what I needed to hear at that point.  Not because I needed
any affirmation of the fact, although it’s always nice to have it
confirmed by someone without a parental bias.  What I wanted
affirmation of was the knowledge that, even once A Label had entered
the picture of Jamie’s life, someone else was still capable of seeing
what was really important about him.



Filed under Here Be Offspring

3 responses to “Nursery conversation (or: Yes, I still can’t think of any interesting post titles, so sue me)

  1. Clare Wilson

    Hello. I hope you are feeling OK about all this. I wonder if people might be jumping to conclusions a little too much. I guess only the assessment by the specialist will give you real useful information at this point. But I just wanted to say, don’t you think that 20 years ago, you might just have thought that you have a little boy who is a little bit shy for his age?
    I should add I am no specialist myself, just a medical journalist with an interest in autism. Anyway I hope everything goes OK.
    Best wishes.

  2. ruth

    why doesn’t katie get her picture on the ‘About’ page? as a second child i feel the need to stand up for her rights…
    love auntie Ruth

  3. Constance

    When I visited Jamie’s nursery for a morning a few weeks ago I was impressed with the individual interest they took in each child and how much they had noticed about Jamie. They clearly find him interesting. Independently of each other two of the assistants remarked “Jamie loves his numbers” and another said Jame is “such a gentle little fellow” [which he is] His concentration is total when he is figuring something out or working his way through a sequence that interests him such as lining up toy cars in colour and size order and running them up the garage runway. He had rapt attention during story time and wanted to read the large scale book after class. The atmosphere in the nursery is very warm and small scale…only about 12 or so children. He likes his school uniform and likes having a Bob the Builder rucksack. He is hopelessly vague about things that he is not interested in….but intensely preoccupied by things that do interest him. Hmmm rather like his Mother at that age as I recall. A real individual right from the start. I find him endlessly fascinating. Watch this space….watch this boy.
    One thing he definitely benefits from is good parenting. XX

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