All Psyched Up

30 01 2009

If you listen very carefully, you might hear it some time next week. A low, steady, evily amused little twitter. That’s the sound of me snickering as I saunter down to the school with a copy of the report from Roo’s cognitive assessment in hand.

The assessment took three and a half hours. From the other side of a two-way mirror, I watched as the psychologist led Roo through a series of activities and questions, ranging from tedious to even more tedious. I watched as Roo struggled to recreate complicated block patterns. As she kept leaning over to get an upside down glimpse at the psychologist’s notes. As she wandered away from the table to preen in front of  the two-way mirror, making kissy faces and getting her butt waggle on. As she ate a giant bowl of teddybear crackers followed by a giant bowl of gold fish crackers, and declared the hospital “The best place to have a snack!” As she gave the psychologist an interesting definition of the word holiday when asked. “A holiday is a day when you get to play hookey from school. I’m having a holiday today!” Three and a half hours. By the end, Roo was slumping in her seat, twirling her hair into a knotted little nest, and hardly able to hold a pencil. And that was when she was faced with the toughest activities. Lots of printing. Where’s Waldo-esque exercises, and other busy visuals. Spelling. Math. The child amazed me with her tenacity and composure. And the results of all that testing are probably going to shock the shit out of the school.

On overall intelligence and cognitive ability,  Roo scored in the top 10% of kids her age. Math skills typical of a 7 or 8 year old. Spelling and reading? She’s currently functioning at a mid-grade five level. I’m not one to put a great deal of weight into test results, but I can’t help feel a certain sense of validation. Like maybe I’ll be taken more seriously when I tell Roo’s teachers that she is both autistic and gifted, because I have paperwork that backs me up on both accounts. Now I have the ammo I need to make sure that her Individualized Program Plan is not exclusively focused on her weaknesses.  It must also address her strengths, and her need for a more challenging, enriching education. I’m not sure at what point the system officially slaps a gifted label on a kid’s file, but I’m thinking literacy skills that test five grade levels above what’s expected is probably sufficient. Probably.

And as much as I’m savouring the sweet taste of I told you so, something even more important came out of that assessment appointment. The conversation I had with the psychologist. For years, most of our attention has been focussed on Roo. She’s had all the appointments and consultations and diagnosis, and recieved the lion’s share of help, patience, and understanding as a result. Meanwhile, we’ve cobbled together ways of handling Neener’s less obvious but potentially more worrisome issues on our own. But over the past year, we’ve reached a point with Neener – her staggering intelligence, her social confusion, her emotional fragility – that clearly requires more than we alone can provide.  So, I described Neener to the psychologist who did  Roo’s assessment, and asked her for advice on how to get some consults, some assessments, and maybe some help for Neener – and us – too. I basically wanted to know the appropriate entry point into the system for a kid like Neener. Should we see our family doctor, with whom we might be able to get an appointment in a month or two, and hope for a referal? The mental health central intake line, where you’re not much of a priority unless you utter the words “danger to herself or others?” School psychologist? Or more accurately, the lengthy wait-list to see a school psychologist? Or should we just suck in our guts, tighten our belts even tighter, and shell out a few grand for a private psychologist? The doctor listened to my concerns, made some notes, and then said the words every parent with hyper-intelligent, socially challenged, emotionally volatile kids longs to hear: “I’ll put in a referral and see if we can get her fast-tracked in to see someone.” Which means more paperwork, more appointments, more questions. But hopefully, more answers too. The only thing I enjoy more than walking into schools, reports in hand, doing my evil little I told you so snicker is actually having the answers I need to help my kids find their way in the world.

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4 responses

30 01 2009
Lisa

Yah, Roo!

And, take that, Brandee Who-Haw. Put that in your bubble pipe and smoke it!

31 01 2009
Winston

Yay!

Keep making that system work for you.

4 02 2009
trish

hehehehe, we can make them listen to us, and it has taken me 8 years with little miss H, but tomorrow we have an appointment with the school, where she will get to stay in special ed room, no rotary, no music and no effin french and hopefully we can help her back from the abyss of sensory overload to a place where she wants to learn and move foreward. yeah for moms who already knew.
t

21 02 2009
Loose Ends « Domestic Blister

[…] in my mouth? Did Neener chop anybody’s arms off yet? How did the school react to the revelation that Roo is, in fact, a smarty pants? Read […]

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