Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Audrey* is a little girl who goes to my kids’ daycare. She is about 8 years old, but cannot speak a word and still wears a diaper. She is a baby in a big girl’s body. The other kids refer to her as “special”.

A few weeks ago I was reading and cuddling with G before bed, when I kissed her and called her my special little girl. She looked up at me, seemingly offended, and stated, “Mom, I’m not special. Special is just another word for mean.” She told me that Audrey was so mean to the other kids, and that no one wanted to play with her. It made me sad to think my daughter was being mean to a “special” child, so we spent the next few minutes talking about how Audrey couldn’t help herself and that G should be her friend. Being the naïve mommy that I am, I thought that our discussions of Audrey were over – that G was suddenly going to be friends with this poor disadvantaged girl and everything was going to be ok. But then, a few days later, as I was dropping the girls off for the day, Audrey attacked.

Every daycare morning, I take the girls in, sit them down at a chair, and give them something to eat for breakfast. I had just sat Brynlee down and gone to hang up their coats, when out of no where Audrey attacked poor Brynlee. She came at her from behind, and pulled her right off of the chair. Poor Bryn flew off backwards, hitting her head. Of course she screamed, and I felt awful, but I comforted her and explained that Audrey didn’t know what she was doing. Still being naïve, I assumed it was an isolated incident – that maybe Audrey just wanted to eat some of Bryn’s food.

Over the course of the next few days though, I casually observed other issues with this girl. I saw that she seemed to pick on the toddler-aged kids when they were all together in the morning. I would also hear stories from G about how mean Audrey is, and what she has done to the other children. Each time I explained to G that she needs to be patient with Audrey. I still wasn’t overly concerned because the classes are only combined a few minutes in the morning and at night – the girls aren’t around Audrey for most of the day.

Yesterday when I showed up at the end of the day, the classes were combined. As I came up the stairs I could hear Bryn crying. I saw Audrey attacking Bryn. She was pulling on her clothing and her hair – and poor Bryn was terrified. All this was going on while a man, who I assumed to be Audrey's father was watching. I broke up the fight, and decided that it was time to talk to someone. I was starting to worry that my sweet, not-quite-two-year-old was the target of attack on a regular basis.

So, I pulled aside the afternoon teacher. She’s a lady I know fairly well, as she has a child in both Bryn and G’s classes and we’ve gone her daughter’s birthday party a few months ago. I felt like I could be frank with her, and get an honest response. I expressed to her my concern, that Audrey was too rough to be combined with the little kids. She agreed with me, and then confided in me that she can’t handle Audrey, who suffers from both Down’s syndrome and severe autism. Audrey picks on the toddlers, and is pretty much out of control. She also went on to tell me the sad story of how Audrey has no parents. Her dad has never been around, and recently her mom left her with a mentally-challenged uncle as her guardian.

And now my heart is breaking. On one hand, I feel so sorry for this little girl who obviously has no chance in life. On the other hand, I’m worried about the safety of my own, sweet girl who is the target of Audrey’s rage. I just don’t know what to do. The obvious answer is that Audrey needs to be in a special facility that can care for someone with her disabilities. But I’m pretty sure the best her uncle can do is the daycare center. So, I need to propose something to the center so that my little girl is protected. It would just kill me if she did something bad to Bryn.

Since yesterday, I've racked my brain for a solution. I barely slept last night, because I couldn't shut my mind off. I just don't know how to handle this. I really don't want to move my kids - this is the only daycare in town, and its only 6 blocks from work. My kids love their teachers and have lots of friends there. It would be devistating to them if they had to move. I also don't think the center is equipped or staffed to handle a child with Audrey's needs, and I'm sure her uncle cannot afford somewhere that is. So, what do I do?

*Names have been changed

10 comments:

Tiburon said...

That is horrible. There has to be some state program or state assisted center that she can go into. Kids with special needs have places to go don't they? I don't blame you for all the anxiety. I would feel the same way - I wish I had some great solution - but I don't.

I hope they can work something out - I know you have such a sweet deal with that provider. It would suck for you to have to go elsewhere!

LisserB said...

My first thought is that the onus should be on the daycare to do something. They are not equipped, with the caregivers or knowledge, to deal with a child with Audreys needs. They should be held to some form of accountibility for accepting a child they are not qualified to care for. I wonder if a phone call to a state agency can do anything. It isn't right that you should be looking to move your children to protect them.

I hope you can find some resolution.

*hugs*

Hayley said...

i don't know what to tell you. the thing that makes integration so hard is what extra expectation it imposes on the teacher - who's probably already got her hands full. and - it is dangerous for the other kids to be around someone violent. i always tell my students that i won't let them hurt anyone, just like i won't let anyone hurt them. does that make sense?

carrie said...

I have no idea what to say.... Such a difficult situation. You feel so sorry for little Audrey, but then you DO NOT want your own daughter terrified. That isn't fair, at ALL. Hopefully the owners will figure something out, without anyone getting hurt. Maybe I'm just too optimistic?? Let us all know what happens....

janae said...

That is so hard. When I started reading your post, I felt sorry for Audrey. Then as I kept reading it made me upset that she was hurting your little ones. She probably does need to be in a place that has people trained to deal with these special people. It would probably help her too. Maybe she's acting the way she is out of frustration. Good luck.

Koreena said...

The solution that kept coming to me while reading about your situation is the daycare should hire someone just to be an aid to Audrey. Then someone would be responsible full-time for her and help keep her from hurting others. Sorry, that's the best I can think of. What a tough situation to be in!

Omgirl said...

Christie, have you talked to the daycare about how you feel? What was their response? Of course you can have sympathy and understanding for Audrey and her situation, but that should not interfere with your children's safety and security at daycare. Keep us updated on what you decide to do.

Anne Marie said...

Oh man, that is tough! I agree with the others, that poor little girl needs to be in a different facility that is more equipped to handling her needs. I hope you don't have to change daycare places, but I wouldn't blame you, in the interest of your daughter's safety.

Lindsay said...

Hi Christie, (maybe not the right place to post this comment, BUT) Of course I remember who you are. Thank you for your words on my blog. I love to talk to anyone who can understand me, which there aren't a lot of people who can. Anyone who gets Aperger's, I love!

Good luck with this situation, that's tough!

Gina Steinagel said...

Christie...what a dilema and I'm sorry you're having to go through it. You are a mother first and you have to protect your children, all mothers will understand that. It's tough though because I know you feel for Audrey and the unfortunate circumstances she faces. I wish I could help you decide what to do but I'm not sure I would know what to do in that situation either.