A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Evaluations’

Few Words Wednesday

Hey everyone…I’m still alive…just incredibly busy. We have had a very busy October between IEP meetings, Hubz coordinating the Cub Scout popcorn sales for the first time ever (what a headache!!), my co-chairing the Red Ribbon Week Committee at the boys’ school, and preparation for Halloween Parties.

Today I am taking Cole to the district’s Preschool Screening. His preschool teacher mentioned that he struggles a bit with writing and coloring. At home I know that he rarely chooses to do any activities with crayons/pencils/markers/etc. He’d rather play with blocks, Legos, etc. I know that his fine motor is ok because he does Legos well (the real Legos, not just Duplos), but I want to have it checked out. Plus, I am slightly concerned about his annunciation/pronunciation. To be quite honest, I have no solid bar to judge it against, and I don’t know if his errors are age-appropriate or not…so, I figure a speech eval will be beneficial, too.

While I filled out the parent questionnaire yesterday, I was amazed by how many of the “problem” areas that I would have checked for my other boys are not an issue for Cole. That made me feel good…and a little sad, as my older two guys have always had a few struggles. Cole also met his milestones on time, if not early, due to his adjusted age for prematurity. He’s always been ahead of the curve. I often tease that he is “three going on nine”. In his mind, whatever Jake can do, he can do as well, if not better. I guess it has been a positive for him.

At the end of the questionnaire, there is a small section that asks if anyone else in the family has been diagnosed with:

-Autism

-ADD/ADHD/Hyperactivity

-Developmental Delay

-Speech impairment

-Mood disorder

And it asks if anyone in the family has:

-Received counseling

-Attended special education classes

-Received therapy/intervention services

It gave me 2 little lines to “if yes, explain”. I joked with Hubz that I needed at least a 5 page appendix to explain our older two boys…and that would just be a very, very brief overview. Instead, I was limited to two measly lines. As a verbose person who tends to be loquacious, I struggled. I settled on the following: Cole’s oldest brother, Jake, has been in speech therapy since age 4. He also has an ADHD-combined type dx with a specific math learning disability. His older brother, Tate, has an Autism dx, with co-morbid ADHD. He was in EI prior to age three, and has been in special education since his third birthday. He also receives speech, OT, PT, and ABA therapy.

I am fairly certain that I will know a few of the therapists doing evaluations. I hope that I am just covering my bases, and that if Cole needs any therapy, that it will be minimal and relatively painless. I can handle 30 minutes of speech twice a week. Of course, being a mom of special needs children, I always have that nagging voice in the back of my head that wonders if there’s something more going on that I’m just not attuned to seeing.

Wish us luck!!

D-Day

Editor’s Note: This piece has been in progress since Wednesday. I have all 3 kids home, and Tate’s therapists keep cancelling sessions. Jake is “bored”, and apparently, their only source of entertainment includes my involvement. Next week will likely be similar. I may not post much until August 23–when my older two boys are back in school. Please send wine. Please.

On Tuesday, Hubz and I met with the neuropsychologist to discuss the results of Jake’s testing. We got there with a few minutes to spare, and, as always, the doctor was running just a little bit behind schedule. We fiddled with our phones as we waited. We made some banter over the Olympics. We were nervous. Finally, the doctor came to get us so we could talk all about our Jake.

We sat down and made ourselves comfortable. The doctor opened with, “Well, we all know Jake is a cute sweetie pie.” Yes, yes he is. I’m glad we have that “officially” documented by a professional! Seriously, though, we delved into the report.

First, Doc led us through the responses from the BASC-2. Hubz and I, along with the teachers, and even Jake, all raised concerns about attention, impulsivity, and atypicality. Doc then went over the answers from the BRIEF that the teachers filled out. Then she went over our answers. Again, concerns about attention, focus, executive functioning, atypicality, and impulsivity.

From there, Doc had us go over the test results. Since this wasn’t our first rodeo, we knew what to look for in the results. Jake has below-to average intelligence. However, due to the ADHD, his true intelligence will always be difficult to measure. While Jake has some areas of weakness, where he is “borderline” or “mildly impaired”, he has several areas of strength. I want to frame the section where Jake scored “above average” and “superior”. The results from Doc’s testing were consistent with the results from Jake’s evaluation done by the school district. Our beautiful boy does, indeed, have ADHD. Doc gave him a diagnosis of “combined-type” because he is inattentive, as well as impulsive. It fits. Jake also has a math-specific learning disability. The entire section of testing devoted to math came up with “well below average”.  Jake has average to below-average reading scores, and his handwriting is well-below average compared to his intelligence.

Due to family history ( Tate), as well as some of our answers during the interview and on the BASC-2 and BRIEF, the doctor administered the ADOS to Jake. While Jake exhibits a few behaviors consistent with autism, these are due to his ADHD and language delays. He is “sub-clinical” in official terminology. His test results on the ADOS show no autism.  While I knew deep-down that Jake’s issues were related to his language delays and inattention, there’s that nagging, “what if” that plagues many of us who have already been through this process and see another child standing out from the crowd in some awkward ways.

Doc gave us her recommendations. First, she thinks Jake would benefit from pharmaceutical intervention- aka- meds. Much of the population that struggles with the symptoms of ADHD benefits from medication. We have seen what it can do. We are open to it. I have already booked his appointment with a psychiatrist to discuss our options. I am trying one of the psych’s that Doc recommended. Tate’s psych is ok, but I’m not totally sold. I want to see if this guy is better. If so, then I can always transfer Tate there.

Doc also suggested that we enroll Jake in a social skills class. Due to his language delays, as well as his ADHD, social interaction is awkward. It’s difficult. He doesn’t always know what to do with other children once he introduces himself. I agree. I left a message with the psychologist she recommended. I hope we can get him into a group nearby. That would be so good for him…to help him feel some more success with peers.

The math and reading interventions that Doc recommended are currently in place. She agreed with most of his IEP. The part of the IEP that concerns her is the part where the SLP wants to drop Jake’s services down to 30 minutes per week this coming school year. His primary qualification for special education services is speech/language. He is still in the mildly-impaired range for language. He needs speech therapy at 60 minutes. Doc also suggested private speech therapy as a good boost for Jake. Today when we see Tate’s SLP, I am going to ask for some references. Tate’s SLP is booked solid..but I’m sure she can give me a few names of SLP’s who are good.

I have to leave the report in the school office for Jake’s special ed resource teacher (case manager). She’s going to set up a meeting in the first couple weeks of school. We have hope for this coming school year. We have hope for our kiddo. He is such an amazing person, who knows struggle..and is working hard, not allowing himself to give up.

I worry so much now, but like I told some friends, one day, as Jake is crossing that stage to get his diploma, I will smile, giggle even…and be so very, very proud of my son. Academics, social interaction, and daily tasks are not easy for my two older boys. But they are learning, early, the benefits of hard work, strong support systems, and dedication. They take nothing for granted..and earn every ounce of their successes. They inspire me to be better. They give me hope.

My Own Personal Groundhog Day

Last Monday I braved the heat and ran to our mailbox to see what gems awaited me. Another “exclusive” credit card offer? AT&T U-verse trying to persuade me to buy what we already have? Yet another EOB? I opened up the door and found a big manilla envelope addressed to “The Parents of Jake (Our last name)”. I opened the envelope and was greeted with a cover sheet reminding us of Jake’s upcoming appointments. There were quite a few forms, as well. I was glad we got it with plenty of time to spare, and yet, my heart sank at the same time. I know how difficult this is going to be for us, for Jake.

Not only do Hubz and I have our forms, but Jake has to do a self-assessment. With his reading and processing issues, I’m not sure if he’ll be able to fill them out on his own. I’m not sure if I should help him…or let him do it himself. I guess I’ll have him fill it out in the room while I’m around, in case he has any questions. I will try to help him understand the question, without influencing his answer. This is a new hurdle, as all of Tate’s evaluations were done prior to age 6, so we just filled them out.

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Sometimes I feel like I am trapped in GroundHog Day… Something’s just not right with our kid. We talk to the school district. We fill out paperwork. We meet to discuss our a-typical kid. We devise an IEP to address global delays. We’re encouraged to get an outside evaluation. We fill out more paperwork. We get the eval. I scramble like a crazy lady to get everything in order to help our child. Hubz talks me off the ledge. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

On the upside (I’m trying to stay upbeat, here), we will start the school year with a clear diagnosis and opinion. Our neuropsychologist is phenomenal and gives parents pages of resources. The hospital with which she’s affiliated has several supports…and has a dedicated resource line for parents to use to find help. We’ll get through this, as always….and hopefully we’ll have some concrete answers as we head into Jake’s third grade year.

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