Ok, it’s not confirmed, because that would involve a visit to an educational psychologist and about £500 to tell us pretty much what we already know - but…
I spoke to the GP this afternoon and she went through a box-ticking exercise to determine whether she could refer YoungMan to an Occupational Therapist or not. Pretty much everything she asked, he displayed. The only real exception was for gross motor skills (which, as I said before, he’s always accomplished easily and early for his age). However, fine motor skills, how easily distracted he is, his energy levels… all ticked her boxes for being outside of the range of “normal”.
Referral, done. She doesn’t know how long it will take for him to get an occupational therapy appointment, but it’s in process at least. Now we just keep on keeping on with things and one day we’ll get a letter, inviting him to an appointment.
So… am I convinced he’s dyspraxic? Not totally. Do I think he needs help to improve his fine motor skills? Yep. Am I hoping that the OT will be able to give us some activities he’ll enjoy to do that? Oh, yes, indeed!
Me, that is. I had a meeting at school today (which I’d requested) to discuss YoungMan’s recent experiences of being teased/ bullied. It’s a fine line, but Foggy and I felt it had been crossed. Since these things tend to escalate if left unchecked, I requested a quick word with the Head of Juniors.
I would normally address such a conversation to his class teacher, but it seems to happen when the boys are at sports lessons, which are taken by specialists rather than form teachers, so I thought Head of Juniors the more appropriate choice.
YoungMan is usually a confident, lively child, as anyone who has met him will attest. However, his outgoing nature is at sharp odds to his lack of academic confidence. Despite being literate and numerate, despite exceeding “average” across the board in his SATs last year, YoungMan has believed for some time that he’s stupid, slow, and that our denials are to cheer him up rather than the truth. It is a source of frustration to us all.
So, I approached the bullying from that angle: he already feels inadequate. Why? How can we help? As part of that, and related to the comments in the locker rooms, I said that YoungMan’s fine motor skills were not developed to the extent one might expect of a seven year old. His gross motor skills milestones were uniformly met well in advance of expectation, but his fine motor skills lagged.
He found handwriting enormously difficult to pick up. He took a long time to cut accurately with scissors. He still struggles to cut with a knife. He took ages to get the hang of shoe laces and his school tie, and don’t start me on his shirt buttons.
What the HOJ said next is what stunned me - she suggested YoungMan is dyspraxic. I had thought dyspraxia applied to gross motor skills, but she said it is possible to be purely fine motor skill based.
And yet, it’s just a name. A fancy term for “difficulty with motor skills”. So, why not?
The good part is, she understands it well and had sensible suggestions as to how to proceed. First stop, the school’s Special Needs department, which is headed by the _loveliest_ Scotswoman, with whom YoungMan is already on excellent terms. Next, a visit to the GP, for a referral for occupational therapy.
So, that’s what _we_ do. Additionally, HOJ is going to get the class teacher to have a chat with the boys in YoungMan’s absence, making it clear bullying is unacceptable and all comments regarding YoungMan’s lack of pace is the changing room are to cease forthwith.
Finally, the sports masters are going to hear from HOJ, to make sure they are keeping a much closer eye - and ear! - on the little wretches, and that they give YoungMan a little more time and understanding. Sorted. Well, not really, but it’s a start…
Yup. All done with JFK last night and today, it’s my first full day in my new job, looking after two boys - one is three and a half years old, and his little brother had his first birthday just over a week ago.
It started fine - WorkMum (will do as a nickname for now) had about half an hour before leaving for work, so we had a really leisurely handover. As it turns out, it was a bit too casual - I realised a minute after she left, that she hadn’t given me keys and I’m supposed to take the 3yo to nursery. Oooops!
I will post pictures later - I got some nice ones on the weekend… YoungMan had his first “away” game for rugby so we were on the road early, me with my camera again.
It’s funny how people take a while to accept an amateur can take a decent shot or two… Of course a lot of the 200-odd photos I took weren’t marvellous - badly composed, visual clutter in background, out of focus etc - but equally there are plenty of good ones.
I emailed six to the club, who will put them forward for publication, a further 10 to appear on the website, 12 to the opposition (I was watching our lads defending so their kids look good on attack in pix) and I will have some of YoungMan to show you later… And I’ve been asked to be Official Photographer on Sunday.
Of course, I’m also perverse enough to only want to do it because I feel like it rather than because someone expects it of me, so I’ll have to fight that instinct if I want to go and take pictures of YoungMan - serves me right!!
Remember last week (September 15, as a matter of fact) I showed you YoungMan’s star chart? I’m delighted to report that in week one of his challenge, he managed to get 45 ticks, for a total of six rows of seven stars. The money has gone into his piggy bank and he’s feeling rather pleased with himself. One Christmas present’s worth down, a dozen or so to go.
He was thrilled with the Headhunter’s suggestion that if he were to get all 56 ticks for eight rows, I should round up the money I’m giving him. So far this week, there is a tick in every category, every day. Long may that continue!!!
In other news, on Friday we caught up with BuilderOfBridges and Beachcomber. The latter was in the UK for a seminar for a fortnight and so they decided to have the middle weekend in London together, catching up with friends and seeing their old haunts. I collected BuilderOfBridges at the airport Friday lunchtime, brought her back to our place to show it off, then collected YoungMan from school on the way into town for work.
We met up with the Headhunter at a favourite gastropub for a drink before dinner. They have a fabulous corner table in what is effectively a snug, so it’s nice and quiet - which was helpful to JFK, who’d been unwilling to do his homework at a sensible speed at home. He changed his mind in rather a hurry when he saw YoungMan playing on the Headhunter’s iPad, though, and sped through all his work at a rate of knots, so they could play together.
I handed JFK back to his parents at 7:30 and then scooped up YoungMan, the Headhunter and BuilderOfBridges and headed to the restaurant which we’d arranged to meet Beachcomber at 8. I was a little concerned that YoungMan’s new school routine (in bed and lights out by 9pm latest) and his cold (which had him falling asleep at 8:15pm last week) might make for some less-than-brilliant behaviour, but YoungMan is most lovely when he has an appreciative audience… and has been fed.
The garlic pizzabread was shared fairly in the circumstances - one slice each for the adults, and the other half to YoungMan. With that much garlic bread in him, I wasn’t about to order him a whole pizza on top, so I suggested we share one and there might be - just maybe! - space for pudding when we were done. YoungMan’s not stupid, he agreed immediately and his half of the sausage and fennel pizza disappeared well before mine did, and he started looking hopefully around for the waitress to bring him some lemon sorbet.
BuilderOfBridges had been smarter than me, she brought their camera with her and had the waiter take some photos for us. I’m hoping she’ll put them up on facebook soon so I can post one for you here. She was saying how much their oldest, the Philosopher, is still developing in step with YoungMan. They are losing teeth at the same times, having the same fears and phobias, they’re very similar in height… Now we just need to organise a trip where the 25 hour twins can see each other again to prove how similar they are!
We left the restaurant about 10:45, with YoungMan just as chatty and enthusiastic with the visitors as he had been when we arrived, and took bets that he’d be asleep in the car on the way home within five minutes. I’d have lost - it was 11 minutes before the snoring started, but bless him, he was pretty good considering I’d made a major change to his routine!