When Brody was five, I decided to enroll him for a “pretend” Kindergarten year at our local elementary school. During this time, he was having difficulty with expressive and receptive language, hypotonia, gastrointestinal issues, yeast, stimming, sensory issues, and was on the GF/CF/SF diet. I hoped sending him to Kindergarten twice would give him a chance to catch up to the other children and give me time to work on his health issues.
My husband and I were excited about his new school. After an exhausting IEP meeting and discussing his health issues and the importance of his diet, we left thinking we had hit the Kindergarten jackpot! The school understood us and the needs of our child. We were leaving him in the hands of “true professionals.” This school year was going to be a winner!
His speech teacher and an administrator called me in one day for a little chit-chat. I went in, guard down, because I thought these gals had my back. The chat started out fine, but soon took a mind numbing detour. We went from talking about his class to them making extremely unprofessional comments.
Naively, I had talked to them about yeast. No big deal, right? They had a look of pure disgust on their faces. They definitely did not understand what I was talking about. Their response to the discussion – “Ew, gross!” Well, you can imagine what my face looked like.
I’m convinced they thought he was extremely contagious and should be locked up in an infectious disease ward.
What came next was the icing on the cake. Since starting school, Brody had picked up a new habit of sitting in his chair with his hands between his knees and rocking back and forth. I had talked to his private ABA therapist about this and she thought it had something to do with calming down his senses.
The school professionals on the other hand just wanted to know if “…anything would come out?” I couldn’t believe my ears. What were they insinuating about a five-year old boy?
You would have thought the above incident would have led me to packing up his Batman backpack and saying adios. Oh, no. I decided to continue enduring random acts of stupidity.
Over the next three months my son went from a happy boy to miserable little guy who was now adding new inappropriate behaviors on a daily basis. Many behaviors that had disappeared with ABA were reappearing with a vengeance. I was growing increasingly frustrated. Like a big dope, I was too afraid to say anything that would rock the boat. I feared my complaints would be taken out on Brody.
Adding to my frustration were the food infractions happening weekly. I had worked hard on his diet and sadly I soon realized the school was not taking it as seriously as I was. The staff had been warned about how sneaky Brody could be when it came to food. If he smelled something delicious or got a glimpse of something tempting he would turn into a stealth sneak machine and go out of his way to get his little mitts on it. Garbage cans were prime picking grounds.
I understand that a teacher can not devote sole attention to Brody. But for Pete’s sake, he was only in school for part of the day and never even made it into the lunch room. How much food did they have to guard in the classroom? The teacher made me feel the diet was ridiculous and not worthy of her time. She probably even figured Mom was not going to know if he got into a little something. Wrong!
The straw that broke the camel’s back finally occurred in December of that year. Brody had spotted and zeroed in on some cookies that were in the teacher’s closet (ironically, the ones I had baked for the teacher for Christmas). As soon as his Para turned her back, boom he was on it like a shark on chum. Within 24 hours we saw severe regression. He displayed behavior I had never seen before. He spent the next afternoon rocking back and forth making horrible, gut wrenching noises.
This might sound odd, but I was relieved when my neighbor came over and saw him in action. She was truly shocked by what she was witnessing. She had never seen him act like this before. In a sick way, I felt validated. Maybe I wasn’t crazy after all. Diet did affect my child.
He never stepped foot into that classroom again.