25 January 2017

Worries of a teacher in early childhood education

This entry was drafted around the same time on the previous day. I just don't know why I saved it as a draft instead of publishing it.

Source: Speech Language Therapy, Delayed Speech (link)

I can't sleep tonight researching about a possible developmental delay a child I am teaching in my class could be having. Based on his medical and biological history, there were aspects that may have lead to his current condition but every clue I follow seem to lead me back to square one.
I feel quite frustrated especially after discussing it with colleagues resulted in, well, hardly any results.

The boy is turning three in two months and hardly uses two words in a sentence. That's alarming.
Observing him during playtime shows that he hardly chooses one activity to immerse himself in. He starts something, gets distracted by something else, doesn't continue or come back to whatever he was doing, and that's what it's like. Like a little fruit fly hopping from one spot to the next. But subtle in a way that you would hardly notice if you weren't paying attention.

He tests his boundaries just like any normal two-year-old would, and displays signs of narcissistic behaviour, for example not being able to wait his turn unless with great effort with an adult, not being distractable by an adult when he finds something he enjoys doing - and it's always something strange like pulling out tissues out of the boxes or flipping every damned switch on the wall until we have disco lights going. Contact with his peers has been so far only with one other boy around his age. They push each other on their carts, hold hands, and seem to have found something in common even though he hardly verbally communicates. Tensions often result when his friend shows signs of frustration, rejection or lack of interest, all of which he does not seem to be able to accordingly interpret or respond to.
I have observed his friend so frustrated to the point of a screaming breakdown yet he is still trying to hold hands with him even though his friend said, for the 20th time: No. Go away.

His spoken vocabulary is by far according to my observations less than 50 words, which is a massive red flag considering that he's turning three in a couple of weeks.

I have looked for signs of autism and observed mild to no signs at all... like rocking himself on the teacher's chair, noticing a crumb drop onto the floor by another sitting all the way on the other side of the table (and wanting to pick it up and not being able to sit still until he picks it up), the tendency to just bolt and escape, responding with high sensitivity towards unusual sensations on his skin like having his sleeves rolled up to his elbows during lunch time.
But at the end of the day, he is making eye-contact, asking for help when he has to, pointing at named persons and items, looking at the direction I am pointing, immitating certain behaviours of his peers and making contact with them.
It just doesn't add up.

He has no interest whatsoever in books, whether I read it out loud without showing the pictures (story telling) or read it out loud and showing the pictures. Because he doesn't speak yet except by non-verbal means (which is fine, but for his age he needs to be more advanced than that), he doesn't tell us things or describe what he has experienced.

It's very hard for me to know what's going on inside this boy's head.

One alarming sign that I have noticed is how this all adds up to just one thing: inconsistency.
One day he is showing signs of deficiency and another day he isn't.
So it's pretty much fruitless to pin-point where the problem seems to be.

I know that it's only been a few months since his hearing has improved after the nasal polyps have been medically removed. But if he doesn't catch up rapidly in his speech development by his 3rd birthday then I have to suggest intervention to the parents (which should have been done by the teachers before me a lot earlier) because this means the child has a 50% chance that it's going to need special education for a very long time.

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