3 Years, 4 Composition Books

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“Gosh, this is hard,” the director of the children’s nursery at our church continued, “I have never had to make a call like this.”

I had thought she was calling to ask me to switch my Sunday as the nursery school teacher and had answered the phone with a smile.  As the conversation ensued, my smile left.  As I felt her trepidation, my heartbeat quickened.  I became anxious and worried.

My brow was furrowed.  My frown deepened.

“What is going on?” I ventured.

“Well, I was calling to say that Declan is no longer allowed in the church nursery.  He is too aggressive and hurts the other children.  We tried to put a person with him, one on one, but Declan is too fast and the aid cannot keep up to prevent another child being injured.”

“Oh.”  I got out.  I knew these things to be true about Declan in general, but no one mentioned them when I picked him from Sunday school the previous Sunday.  In fact, no one looked at me at all, or said goodbye to me or Declan.

“I’m sorry,” she continued, “Declan cannot come to the church nursery anymore.  Of course, the doors to our church are always open to you and the rest of your family.”

I was blind.  My eyes had loaded with tears that had not yet begun to fall.

“I do not want to talk to you anymore.” The most basic thought surfaced and I said it out loud.  “Goodbye.” I said, and hung up the phone.


Alone.  Alone.  Alone.

My gosh, I don’t think anyone can realize how alone we were at that time.  The church solidified everything I knew about Declan.

Declan was hard.

Any trip out had a similar outcome.  If other children were there, someone was hurt.  A trip to the store led to a meltdown of epic proportions.  Every time.  Time at home was spent for me in a sleep deprived state trying to keep Declan safe as he flew around the house showing me every hidden danger I had never once conceived before for my other children.

But we got connected with services.  We got help for him.  And for us.

And then he went to his special education preschool.

3 Years, 4 Composition Books

It’s official.  The Extended School Year has come to a close and Declan has finished Preschool.  Completely.

Knowing where we started and where we are today is such a difference.

Over 3 years 4 composition books were filled – notes passed back and forth between the teachers and I to discuss current issues.  Current plans, current ideas.

The teachers and therapists knew it too.  And although they knew Declan was hard, they smiled and not once complained.  At most, I would get notes asking me to clip his fingernails to make the scratching less painful while they worked to deter the behavior.

My least favorite words to hear for the first two years?

“Have a good weekend!” said by the school bus driver as Declan was delivered back to me on Thursday.  There were 3 days without support.

But things changed.  For 3 years Declan was supported.  Declan was loved and Declan learned!

Declan still isn’t allowed back at our old church.  We tried again, but the special needs room closed.  And he was denied being allowed back into the regular Sunday School.

That still hurts.

But I am not going to let it cloud my vision of his elementary school years.

We left the world of “he can’t, we can’t” and found the world of “he can, we can.”  In the process we found Declan.

I know what Declan is capable of when he is loved and supported.  He is 6 years old now, and he is ready.  Declan is a real treat and delight and I think they are going to love him!

Declan’s teacher gave Declan tons of well wishes and let me know she keeps his picture with Spiderman near her desk – she says she smiles every time she passes it.  And she sent us on with this poem and a tear in all our eyes.

Kindergarten – here comes Declan!




21 thoughts on “3 Years, 4 Composition Books

  1. Somethings arent meant to be, even Gods representatives. I’m glad we have diverse philosophies and institutions, because another one will fit our needs.
    Happy to hear that the new place worked out so well! Congratulations to you and your family for surviving through thick and thin.💞

  2. Love the poem from his teachers! He is not the first child to be excluded by a church, unfortunately. Guess the song “Jesus loves me” doesn’t apply to some in other’s eyes. Used to teach preschool Sunday school while in high school. The clue was to match the messages to the kids abilities to comprehend. Not everyone learns the same ways. Some need motions in the songs. Get the kids up and moving and they tend to get involved. Sitting still at that age is a challenge for even the best behaved kids.

    1. I agree. When he was in the special needs room they did a great message for those kids based on their needs. I think a lot of kids in the regular rooms would benefit from those kinds of movements and messages as well!

  3. We got kicked out of church toddler time with behaviour issues at 2. Got supported through his first year at school and he has settled so much. Still early days, and lots of down days but there is hope too.
    The poem was lovely, nice to know that some people really see a person, not a label. Angels walk amongst us!

    1. Our stories are so similar! Declan was 2 when he was kicked out as well. But with support, Declan settled so much as well! We still have the early days and down days – but not as often! I am hopeful for you too! I agree – the poem made me tear up. The teachers made such a difference in all our lives. They were our blessing!

  4. Ben got “suspended” for 4days in 3rd grade for “behavior”. I took it to the district & now he’s at a different school that he loves. We still have a hard time with weekends and school breaks.
    4th grade starts on August 16th (a Wednesday, weird huh?) and though he’ll be in the same class at the same school, he’ll have a new teacher. Poor kiddo has so little stability.
    Those comp books are great. Communication is so important. Especially when the kiddo, like Ben, can’t communicate what happens at school. Some teachers use an app. That works great too.

    1. Yes! I hope they continue at the new school because Declan cannot tell me what happened during his day. I am nervous as Declan is going to be in the regular classroom part of his time, special education classroom, different therapies….I was grateful that at the preschool they were all in the same room and there was a great continuity of “This is what we are working on.” Good luck to been starting his new school year! Wednesday, huh? That is a little odd. We don’t start until the 28th. Feels like forever away!

  5. How could a family go to a church when their child with special needs can’t go to Sunday School? There had to be a better way–more training for the teachers, more supports for your son. A child of God is worth the effort. I’m sorry the church failed your family. I hope and pray you’ve found a more supportive church family where your son can grow spiritually and that you all will heal from the hurt and experience restoration.

    1. Yes, I have asked the same question, quite often. But the school didn’t. Where everyone else was giving up, staring, commenting or just shrugging in indifference – the school stepped in and helped him and us so much. They were all such a blessing!

  6. I know the RIGHT church is out there for Declan and the rest of the family because God loves all and tells us to bring the children to Him

    1. Oh I agree. Declan likes going to church and “playing with those people.” This was our church and we were hurt when they (we even went to a church elder) told us Declan was no longer welcome. It didn’t make sense because of God’s message to bring ALL the childrent to him. Not just the typical ones. It was a very hard time. But the church is just part of the story and just an example of another area where we could not be included. The blessing was in the school and the teachers that didn’t give up and helped Declan. Persevered and found the joy of Declan!

  7. I am crying for your son, for you, and all the families that have to deal with situations like this. Thank goodness his last teacher, and staff, were amazing.

  8. Aww, that’s so sad, the church could have found a way round it. In my church I’m part of the Sunday school teachers. In my class we have two special needs children like your Declan. The older one is mild and listens most of the time but the younger one is the same with Declan. He bites, kicks, does all sorts… we’ve assigned him an aide for a one to one, but he can be too fast for him. We’ve had to call the mum a number of times due to incidents. But we still accommodate the two of them, because they are part of us. We are currently working towards a sensory tent for the younger one in our class. Such that he’s with us but yet in his own familiar sensory atmosphere. Church is not for the good well behaved kid only, church is for everyone no matter who you are.
    But on a brighter side, his teachers are amazing. Sometimes help and understanding comes from unexpected quarters. Remain blessed, you are doing an amazing job 👍🏽👍🏽👏🏼👏🏼

    1. Yes, exactly – the youngest does sound like my Declan. You are a blessing. No one at our church tried to find a way to say, “Yes, I can work with him” like you are trying. That is great. Yes, his preschool teachers did – I was expecting them to tell me how hard he was and instead they told me what good he did and what they felt may help. And 3 years later – it ALL helped. They were such a blessing! Thank you so much!

  9. I was reading this and it just finish breaking me to pieces / how old is your baby? He was just trying to communicate the best that he possibly could. I feel they should have done research to learn his way of communicating but that’s just me 😥

    1. At the school he had specialized instruction, a 1/1 aid, Speech and Occupational Therapy and for a year we did private speech therapy. He went from being practically non-verbal to speaking mountains of words. He still has a hard time processing incoming info – but that is okay. His OT was the best. This past fall she finally got him to hold scissors and kind of hold a pencil. She worked him on so many games and he just started being able to move a scooter. Still can’t do a bike, but again, that’s A-Ok. He will have the same services when he goes to Kindergarten in the fall. They will just not be as connected as theis wonderful group was (they have offices all over the school – not all in the same classroom working on goals together).

    2. Yes, I agree. Declan had lost most of his speech at that point and would get frustrated. But also, he is a sensory seeker. When I dropped him off that day there was a little girl with a HUGE pink sparkly bow in her hair. I thought fir sure Declan was going to go for it. I don’t know what he did that day. I just know it was enough for the teachers to throw their hands in the air. I wwas expecting that everywhere we went. Until he went to his Special Ed Preschool. They were such a blessing!

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