Tara's Toyland Home Daycare

Where Learning is Fun and Friendships Flourish


Sometimes it's NOT a disorder disorder

Posted by tarastoyland on March 24, 2015 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

October 13, 2012 at 10:12am


DISCLAIMER - I am not going to respond to comments on this. You the reader can decide if I am off base and have never dealt with what you are dealing with, or spot on. I will not argue my point any further then what is stated below. You can leave comments if you want, you can unfriend me if you must. But I do hope you read with an open mind and consider that perhaps I may be right.





I follow a few parenting boards and a recent one had a question about a preschooler not liking new clothes or having to go from summer short sleeves to winter long ones or vice versa. The mom is investigating therapists cause of the tantrums such things ensue.



Other questions mention a child lining up the toys as a sign the child is autistic. Or that they don't interact with strangers, or that they don't talk yet. Sometimes it's a severe tantrum tendency that drives a diagnosis of some disorder. Don't eat certain foods? Must be a sensory disorder.



It's so hard to read these and not shout "they are just being a kid, stop freaking out and let it go. Tell them to stop it, give them enough sleep and make sure they aren't having eye/ear/sickness issues, then fix those. If nothing is physically wrong then buck down and tell the kid to get over it."


Cause if you shout that out "you don't understand" or "you don't see what we see, he/she was acting really good that day" or "I know my child, and I know this is not normal." If you even mention those thoughts out loud you are no longer a friend. Or if they are a client they will go somewhere else instead of face the facts. In today's world you can not have a child who's behavior is just bad behavior, it is a disorder now.



Sorry, in almost every case I have seen that there is not a disorder. There is something going on but it is not autism or sensory processing disorder or OCD or ADHD even. In almost all of these "cases" I have noticed there are other reasons. The lining up objects is a common thing in almost all kids. I have so many pictures of it by just plain ole' kids. The focusing on one subject to the point of obsession. Yep, again, a plain ole' kid thing. Allowing that obsession to become the ruling factor of their lives is determined by the parent's reaction to that obsession. If your kid likes dinosaurs, or sea life, or outer space, or insects, or whatever, and you overload them with everything related to that anytime you see it, then yes, their obsession will become out of proportion to normal kids' obsessions. That does not make them have OCD or Autism or any other disorder.



Some kids who were diagnoses as autistic really have hearing or speech issues. If you can't hear and you are a toddler you are going to appear to not interact to not pay attention to the world, to be "autistic". And miracles of miracles, after their ears are cleaned out they get so much better. Must be the therapy they also started. How dare I say this? Well, my older daughter was truly advanced speech wise. She said, "will you please play outside with me, Gareth" clear as day to her cousin at 13 months old. By 18 months she had a 400 word vocabulary. I found my list and it's amazing what she said. What makes it even more amazing is that by 24 months old she had lost all but 5 words. Must have been autistic - she was advanced, then lost skills! Nope. She was deaf from ear wax compaction in both ears. 100% deaf. She had her ears cleaned out and slowly regained words. It wasn't until she was 3 1/2 that she was truly up to age level cause she had lost so much in those 6 months. It killed me to see postings of kids singing songs or saying advanced things, cause she had done that at 17 months but at almost 3 she couldn't anymore. She ended up with a speech issue from it that was hard to fix, she couldn't say r controlled vowels to save her life and her l's were messed up as well. By fourth grade she was finally speaking clearly again. I have seen similar stories, even from those with "autistic" kids. They start speech therapy, and have that ear wax removed, all in the same week. Yet their frame of mind already shouts "it's autism" so they credit the therapy, not the cleaned out ears, for the child saying the first words ever. Try stuffing your ears with cotton for a weekend and see how different you start acting. Did you just become autistic?



Other kids with a disorder are really sleep deprived. If they were grown ups in the military they would be put on medical leave they are so overtired. If you are overtired, at any age, then you get crabby (extreme tantrums and meltdowns may occur), you can't think as well (you may space out randomly, or perhaps not be able to figure out simple puzzles, sometimes you can forget the simplest of facts), you do not interact as well with your environment or other people. Sleep deprivation in children makes them unable to concentrate and hyper. Sound like ADHD to you? Does to me. If your grade schooler is getting less then 11 hours of sleep a night, they are not getting enough sleep. An overtired child does not fall asleep, instead they get hyper. If your kid has hit the slap happy stage, you have missed the window of sleep and are at the overtired stage. Consistently being overtired, nights and nights of being hours short of sleep, and the child becomes permanently in the hyper, unfocused state of being. Too bad the people that study behavior don't actually take care of kids, cause I would really like to see a study about average number of hours of sleep as compared to disorders.



One boy who I had in daycare was very inconsistent. Some days he was spot on, could do a puzzle, answer what a cow said and really knew almost everything a boy his age should know. But then other days not so much. In fact other days he was literally two years behind on skills. After investigating I found out that it was directly tied to amount of sleep. When he spent a weekend missing naps and going to bed late he paid for it by lack of skills later. At age 4 he should have been getting 13 to 14 hours of sleep in a day. He was getting more like 9 some days. Can you function on 5 hours less sleep after a few days? I see this over and over, the child starts sleeping more and their skills improve. Of course the "autistic" also have "insomnia". Perhaps the Insomnic have Austism is more like it. All kids at one point fight sleep, perhaps those that are getting less then what used to be recommended 14 years ago would benefit from getting the right amount and be "spot on" every day. Weeks, months, years of sleep deprivation have been proven in scientific studies to lower IQ, lower physical ability and lower memory skills. If your ten month old should have been getting 16 - 18 hours of sleep in a day, and they are only getting 14, or even less, they will not be able to do as well as the child who gets the right amount of sleep. I know, I know, they don't nap, they can't sleep at night, you've tried everything. I'm sure that I'll have comments saying that. And I don't believe it. Cause every kid that has come to my daycare and been forced to nap every day, (yes, forced, cause they are in a very dark room with music playing at the same time every day no matter what), happily takes naps until the day they start school in the afternoons. Those that don't take naps at home, do here. The only kids that don't nap here get enough night time sleep that they are ok. That means a minimum of 13 hours at night. One of my parents doesn't do a morning nap for their 16 month old, but it turns out the child sleeps almost 14 hours every night, no matter what, so they do not need a morning nap. But almost always lack of sleep is a problem that causes other problems. Solve the sleep and a host of other issues just disappear. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, a host of other issues are fixed.



If you are allowed to do whatever you want when ever you want, then when rules are required you won't know to follow them. If at home meals are where ever the toddler wants then they won't understand ias a five year old that the social norms in a restaurant are different and they will not act properly. If as a toddler you were allowed to hit your parent then you will not learn that hitting isn't allowed no matter how much you are told when you hit another child, cause after all you can hit your mommy. If your toddler is only told in a meek voice to not run into the street, then they will keep running into the street. All kids test rules and boundaries, some parents fail that test and that kid will not see any boundaries after a certain age. What started out as a kid being a kid, has now become a "disorder".



Other "autistic" kids, or those needing occupational, developmental, or whateveral therapies, really just need to be forced to do things and not be allowed to be the boss. Or be exposed to the information. If no one has told you a cow says moo, then you do not know that fact. Or perhaps if they told you and you were too overtired to process the information, or your ears were clogged with fluid and you really didn't hear that information. If your parent has always dressed you then at age 4 you will not have the skill that the majority of kids do have, and you will be "behind". Go to school like that and wow, you may have a disorder. If your parents never required you to eat what they eat, and went with your whims, then you may have eating issues. Every kid will focus on certain foods if you let them. It's up to the grown up to determine if that becomes a sensory disorder by allowing it, or just a phase by not allowing it. This means when your kid will only eat hot dogs, you stop serving hot dogs. Amazingly that kid will eat other things pretty quickly. I have "cured" so many sensory disorders at my daycare lunch table, I'm "gifted" like that.



I could go on, but by now the ones who have kids with disorders are beyond pissed at me and have responded with all those things I mentioned above. Some of them are daycare providers and have seen many kids. To convince them to consider other reasons for the disorder is an uphill battle that I can not win. So most of the time I just smile and say I'm sorry they are dealing with it. I ignore the postings about how that type of child sees the world. I bite my tongue.



To that question about the clothing I gave the following answer, "My now 10 yr old was really bad as a preschooler about clothing, and my 13 yr old at that age was not so bad but still had a few issues here and there. Almost all the daycare kids are to some degree have the change of season clothes issues.



I am irritated that the modern way of handling this is to assume a disorder of some sort. How bout a kid just not liking how something feels? Or being a kid and exerting some independence? Or being so sleep deprived from years of not getting the right amount of sleep that they can not possibly function. Honestly, just tell the kid, tough, or let them deal with the consequences and let it go. If the child goes to a school enlist the teacher for help - I have had to email my younger daughter's teacher and say, "can you tell the class that coats, hats and mittens are now required every day?". And guess what - she gets over it and each year it's a bit less. Now that she is older I know to make her try on every clothing before we buy it, I know she doesn't like collars around her neck or lace anywhere it touches the skin. But this does not make her having sensory disorder. It just means she is normal. Do YOU like every clothing you have ever tried on??



Let it go. Stop concentrating on it. It's really not that big of a deal."



And that is what I would love to say to some others but can't cause they know me personally.



So, if you are my friend with a truly "special" kid, of course I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about someone else. Because your kid is of course really having that disorder.

************  when I originally published this one comment was that I do not have an MD, this was my response to that

when I was a lead teacher at a daycare in my mid 20s I was insulted when the director said to me that I would never be a good daycare provider until I had kids. Then I had kids and realized she was right. Being a mom is ten thousand times harder and more intense then working a 9 hour day with the kids. There are so many aspects of the job that I didn't see before in the light that I do now.


I feel that doctors have the same issue. Seeing a child for 15 minutes does not make them an expert. Until they have lived a week in the shoes of a parent of each age of child they can not be a truly good guide to parents. I think it would be a great idea for all pediatricians to spend a week with a family who has a newborn, then a week with a 2 yr old's family, then a preschoolers. They would get such a more thorough idea of what reality is.


I have more experience with more children from more families then lots of people, and lots more then most doctors. I have seen overtired kids vs rested kids. I have seen kids "cured"."

The value of Mean Based Standardized testing in Early Child Education

Posted by tarastoyland on March 23, 2015 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

originally written in December 2012

Recently on a forum a mother asked how to improve her child's fine motor skills. All sorts of good (and a few not so good) suggestions were given. The mother was saying the child could do everything that we suggested. This didn't seem right. From what she reported as the teacher's comments I thought perhaps the mom had blinders on. I offered to evaluate the child to see where he really was skill wise and give the mom some sense of what to do. *note to self, stop being so spontaneously generous*



Last night I had the child over to my house. He and I spent about an hour going over what he knew. I started with the test for fine motor since that is what the teacher said he needed to work on. I like using the LAP-3 test. It's great at telling you exactly what age, to the month, a child should be able to do something. For instance by 24 months they should be able to put one inch blocks into a jar with a 1 1/2 inch opening. Standardized. FACT, not opinion.



In talking with the mother I found out that this child missed kindergarten cut off date by a few weeks. The brick and mortar chain preschool he went to said that he was "way behind" and should not go to kindergarten next year but rather have another year of preschool. (which would mean in the first month of his kindergarten year he would turn seven!) Then I found out the worse part of the story. Last year, the boy who had just turned FOUR was in the two year old room. This is TWO years below his age level. Due to his birthdate he should have been in the older three year old room. I explained to the mom how horrible this was, If you took a two year old and put them in the infant room would you expect them to be taught age appropriate things? Would you expect that two year old to start drinking out of a normal cup when he was the only one in the room not on a bottle? That is what that school did to this kid. Because I do home daycare and have multiple ages every day I separate my daycare room so that there is a big kid area where the older kids can do age appropriate things without worry. There's nothing worse then building a nice big block tower only to have a two year old that doesn't understand come over and knock it down. But in a room of only two year olds you would not have the protection of a safe building zone. So how could you learn to build towers from blocks like a four year old should?



It gets worse. They had a conference and told the mom that the child was basically dumb. Oh, they didn't use those words but they may as well have. She was told he needed INTENSIVE help. I expected this child to not even be able to hold the pencil the right way from what I had already read honestly. Before she arrived at my house I was worried that I was going to have to break it to the mom that her child was not the sharpest tack in the box.



I started on fine motor. After a bit I had to tell the mom to go to the other room, she didn't understand there was a reason I was explaining what to do the way I was. He soared through the skills. Soon we were at 36 months and he was not blinking an eye at what I asked him to do. In no time we were at 48 months. Yes he is a young five which would put him at just over 60 months, but he has another year before kindergarten so schooling wise he is at about 51 months as the target. I told his mom he was not behind long before I stopped the testing at 65 months. This kid was not behind at all in fine motor.



Maybe the teacher didn't identify the skill set properly. So I told the mom I would go over some other things in the test to make sure he wasn't behind in any other area. In every test he was at least 50 months old skill set, and in all but three things he was above 60 month skill set.



He was behind in writing his name. CHRONICLE AGE wise. School age wise he was exactly on target for this time in the school year. His only skill that he was behind at all was writing letters. I am sure that is because he was in the wrong class setting last year. The other skill he needed to work on was putting on his shirt and socks. This obviously is not a skill that kindergarten teachers care about. He can zip his coat even. The mom left here with concrete suggestions to improve those skills - 1.) give the kid 20 minutes before bedtime, hand him his clothes and tell him to put them on, he'll figure it out, 2) buy the Kumon handwriting books for upper and lower case, no other brand approaches the METHODOLOGY of handwriting like they do, and do a few pages a night, 3) buy Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD and have him watch it 3 times a night for 2 weeks straight to learn all letter sounds and lastly 4) practice writing his name one time each night with the laminated sheet I sent home. (see method below)



That is all this boy needs. The teacher he had now, and it turns out the director also, did not use an accurate test to decide where this boy was. Maybe the kid didn't have his glasses yet, or was sick on the day of the testing, perhaps the day of testing that they did he was being difficult, or shy. Maybe the school isn't to blame for the test, I will admit that. But they should have seen once he was there for any length of time that he was in the wrong class and moved him back to the proper age group. If the test failed the child the teachers should have stepped up. The teachers failed him too. I was mad that this school was hurting children in such a way. I was sad that this bright, awesome little boy was almost subjected to another year of people thinking he was dumb.



Last night the test showed his skill levels. Not Miss Nora, not my opinion, not what I had seen from knowing other kids in the 4K age level. A test that any teacher in any state can use and we could compare kids objectively was given and that test showed that this boy would have done just fine in kindergarten THIS year if he had gone.



My final recommendation to the mom was to find him a new school cause the one he has now sucks.

Being Proactive

Posted by tarastoyland on March 12, 2015 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

"J has been saying your name lately at home now too (he says it so cute). He even just went to the door and said "Miss Nora". I said "no J, she's at her house, not here". He then said (what sounded like) "go see Miss Nora"

I know it's been a long time coming, but he sure does love his Miss Nora! "

This is a facebook message I got this past weekend from a daycare parent who's child has been with me a few days a week for the past year.   After he was here for a while I realized his language and some other skills were behind.  I suggested last spring that she call Early Intervention to have him evaluated.  He was about15 months behind on language last fall, so really NO language at all at almost 2 yrs old.  His progress is amazing, and I must admit his mom's comment had me on cloud nine and crying with joy.

Although all children learn different skills at different rates there are some skills that should be met no later then a certain age.  It is extremely hard as a parent to accept that your child may have a problem but identifying a  delay early can mean a child gets the help they need and a small  problem disappears instead of becoming  a big  problem. 

Occasionally I will recommend a child get evaluated by Early Intervention or the child's home school district.  The only outcome of such an evaluation is a positive one - either you will be told your child is right on track or your child will get extra help to get them on track.  Getting help for your child is never a negative thing, but rather a chance for your child to excel in different ways then they currently are.  This child is a perfect example of how positive intervention can be. 

Not all parents take it that well.  Somewhere out there in the web-verse there is a negative review of my childcare.  It hurts to have someone say your program, your house, yourself are terrible.  What she said was not true but she was lashing out because I had told her that her son should be evaluated.  I only want what is best for each child and he was behind in multiple ways.  When he enrolled I had another child, S, who was getting speech and developmental therapy.  The therapists came to my house and when this other boy started both of them suggested he get evaluated.  They instantly confirmed what I saw.  But the parent was hurt by the recommendation and never returned.  It's been years since that parent was here and I wonder about that little boy and hope he did get help. 

S's developmental therapist only had to work with him for a few months.  About the time he got services he went to full time here.   She said that I did more then she ever could and that she had learned many techniques from me.  Pretty cool to have a specialist say they learned from plain ole' me!  

Working with kids that have skills below the average can be a challenge.  With a multi age home daycare group it's easy to just teach them at their level.   Some behaviors or disabilities are out of my expertise though, so there have been times that I have had to say that I am not the right spot for a child.  My concern is always that the child is able to have their needs met while I am still meeting the needs of the group.

Upon request or if the group needs dictate I will perform a standardized developmental test to determine the skills needed for further advancement.  After administering this test many times I have come to know when children are lacking or ahead in most areas.