Those who have experience with special needs children,
could you please give me your input?
My first-grade dd, age 6, is 'transitioning' out of special ed at the end of this year. She is in a "regular" first grade class. She was initially thought to be autistic (age 2+), but later that assessment was changed and we were told what she had was developmental delays and processing disorders. She was never officially tested but attended a preschool which included a playgroup for autistic/autism spectrum children. The playgroup completely changed our lives and dd did a fabulous job learning coping strategies for her particular difficulties. She attended occupational therapy from age 3 until just about her 6th birthday. She received speech therapy for 2 years. She developed good social interactions. She shines academically.
So...here is the problem. She has *something* that others rarely see. Everyone thinks she's wonderful and doing great, but lately when she comes home from school she has massive meltdowns that are reminiscent of the massive tantrums she had as a little girl. They include screaming, ranting, hitting, biting, pinching, etc. Her little sisters, dh and I are all targets, but eventually she turns it on herself and will often pound herself on the head or bite or pinch herself and yell at herself. There is no particular event that initiates this behavior, there is just something small that she names as the instigator, like her sister sitting in the seat she was going to sit in. It can take a couple of hours before it winds down. She does not know why this is happening, but will, as I said, name something small that set it off. The same thing happened this time last year, and I'm speculating that she is extremely anxious about the changes that will occur when first grade ends. She really needs an established routine to be comfortable. As long as she's in a comfort zone, she does well, but changes are very, very hard for her. It took nearly 2 months for her to adjust to first grade, and we had to set up a "big buddy" (college intern) plus a spcecial friend (intervention teacher) who met with her once a week in a special playroom for play therapy. The big buddy left at the semester and the special friend program ended a month ago. I am guessing that this didn't help her anxiety any.
I'm concerned that she will no longer be in special ed (doesn't qualify) and that safety net will be gone. I'm concerned that this affects her relationships with others. I believe she needs *something* but I don't know what. She still has the hand flapping, toe-walking and OC behaviors but often in a way or at a time/place where others don't notice. To the outside world, she looks like a normal kid and that is part of the problem. The school, teacher, and case manager do not see what happens before and after school or when she is very anxious. She has a lot of anxiety about performing well and being liked/admired by others. In the safety of her home, she has been literally falling apart with fear, anger, or whatever is driving her to behave this way. I am so sad to see her so miserable and want to help. I also want to ensure that she find resources that can help her. That's where I'm asking you guys for help! Where can I turn? I called a center that deals with autism, disabilities, and mental retardation. They contract out services but also observe and test when it's deemed appropriate. A specialist is going to come next week to our home to talk to us and observe dd. I filled out a questionnaire for them as well. They will decide whether or not what we're dealing with warrants testing. I don't know what else to do and feel a little lost, since no one seems to have any idea what exactly the problem might be. DD has characteristics of many things but full qualities of none.
Any advice and input appreciated.