Friday was the last day of the grading period so I am not sure if any work was going to get done. I had spoken to another parent Thursday night and she had told me Friday was spirit day and she was at the store buying her high schooler stuff for the day. I was not asked to buy anything and i figured my son would not be participating in the festivities. I did ask him about the planned pep rally and he said he has gone before and it was okay. He is in the “ED” (emotionally disturbed- hate that term but it gets him the best, most appropriate supports) unit most of the day, there are only three kids and they are self contained. His case manager is wonderful and if any issues come up they are resolved very quickly.
At 12:40 when he was to be getting on the bus I received a call from the school’s guidance counselor that my son was in her office. She explained to me that they had a pep rally at the end of the day and then someone pulled the fire alarm. She said he was clearly overstimulated from the pep rally and than the fire alarm put him over the edge. I can only imagine he would be overstimulated! I felt horrible for him.
When I arrived at the school he was still sniffling from crying. He explained the guidance counselor had to go upstairs for another issue so we sat there for a few minutes while he destroyed some pens. I tried to get him to play with the fidgets she had in her office but he declined saying the pens are more interesting. Of course they are!
While he was destroying pens I asked him what happened. He told me that the noise and all the people was just too much. I asked what he did (preparing for the worst) and he told me he covered his ears. Then what… He said “I started crying”. I almost started crying as I pictured him in that huge gymnasium- a couple thousand kids, ears plugged, head down crying and I would assume he was rocking. Once he gets to that point of being overwhelmed he is unable to leave on his own and needs “rescued” by an adult. So I asked him if he left with a teacher and he said no. So then I envision a major meltdown and they had to clear out the whole pep rally. Nope, that would have been bad but in some ways what happened was worse. He said he had to sit through the whole thing because no one noticed him. At that moment my heart broke but I was also proud of him for not having a full meltdown.
I find out that his case manager wasn’t there today and make a mental note to be notified of when he isn’t going to be there. My son is pretty calm by this time so we decide to go up to his locker and see if we find the guidance counselor since his locker is outside the ED room (I am guessing that is where the issue is). When we get out into the hallway he comments that he is surprised that it is so clean so soon. When I clarify he tells me that there had been tissue paper, streamers, confetti from “those exploding things” every where. He sounds kind of annoyed as he is explaining so I comment that that stuff probably also upset him. He nods his head.
Yikes! it was a sensory nightmare at the high school Friday!!
We make our way to his locker and we do end up talking to the guidance counselor. She apologized but she had to come up to the room because another student was having an issue. I am guessing the day was too much for the other kid too! The guidance counselor was very nice about the whole thing and just clarified that it was the pep rally that upset him. I realize she should be nice about it but I have encountered guidance counselors that don’t get it and lecture me about how my son should have handled it better. We discussed that she will make arrangements for him to go somewhere else during a pep rally. She reassured him that he never has to sit through anything like that, pep rallys or assemblies, that may upset him.
On our way home he was calm but I could still tell he was in recovery. He very sheepishly asked if he could have some psn (play station network) money. I bought him some because I felt he handled himself very well considering the circumstances, plus I felt horrible for him. On Monday we will be discussing the appropriate supports but it sounds like the school was already prepared to do what was needed. I think that any one of those things may have been okay but the combination was just too much and was really the “Perfect Sensory Storm”.