We have an ongoing love/ hate relationship with the lunchroom.
For most of last year, my son did not eat in the lunchroom. Instead, he sat in the office near the secretaries and ate before going to recess. During these daily lunch dates, he would share about his morning, talk a bit of Minecraft, and the ladies would encourage him to eat his “body food.”
We started this plan after it was clear that the lunchroom was just too stimulating for him. To the “typical” student, the lunchroom equals social freedom and opportunities; but to my TBP, the noise of the trays hitting the tables, the people moving quickly, the nonstop talking, and all the different smells floating in the air were just too much.
We quickly learned that no one benefitted when my TBP didn’t eat his lunch. If we received a phone call from the school about an “incident” that happened, it was almost a sure thing that the infraction took place at lunch recess after he didn’t eat his food. Showing up at school, unzipping his lunchbox and seeing the same contents that I had carefully packed that morning was frustrating.
It wouldn’t take long before my son would read my face and start to explain…”I’m sorry, Mama! I can’t think in there! I just can’t focus and it takes me so long to find a good spot and then I’m out of time.” I understood that his actions were not deliberate and it was clear that he needed help so that he could make it through the rest of his day. A plan was developed and it made a huge difference.
That was last year…
This year, the school staff wanted to try the lunchroom. I was extremely apprehensive about the decision. I explained to the staff that this would sabotage his ability to function and that he would then be punished for his actions that were brought on by not eating. They understood my concern, but also pointed out that he was older and that for the first time…he was interested in friends. I knew what they were talking about…my son was interested in his peers and he wanted to be “like them” in a way that he hadn’t cared about before. Surprisingly, he was coming home and talking about the students in his class and who he was playing with at recess. The principal reminded me that many of the recess plans, were manufactured during lunch and he was concerned that my TBP would miss out on that opportunity.
That was in September and for the most part, my son has eaten in the lunchroom with the kids, the noises, the lights and the smells. I know this change is a big step…a huge step really. Yes…there are days where he complains about it, but it seems to be those days where he has experienced a heightened sensory day…such as instruments in music or stomping feet during PE.
So now I ask you….What is something that you are surprised that your child can do today, that he couldn’t do yesterday?