Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A Tear-Free Evaluation for Natey

Look at this face! 

My little boy did a great job this morning!  John and I took him in to his school to meet with the team who will be taking over his education when he turns three, basically next month.  He will move from the Infants and Toddlers program to the Child Find program, and they require their own evaluation.  So even though he was just evaluated about a month ago, it was time to go through it again.  Except today was fantastic.  In the room were myself, John, Nate, Lynn (his caseworker for the past year) and two educators from the Child Find Program.  Right off the bat they saw Nate freak out and try to climb on a chair to reach his snack (excellent communication, right?)  We had a ton of paperwork to go through and sign as usual (I already have a full file cabinet for the boys' paperwork), and then a developmental assessment.

The team was very good at working the evaluation into regular activities, making a very smooth transition for Nate.  They used his interactions with mom and dad, and used his "pops" as rewards, and objects that he was to "find" as well.  This was highly motivating for him.  He was also in a pretty cooperative mood- he did new puzzles, he stacked blocks.  They brought out a book to see how well he would attend to it, and it just happened to be Goodnight Moon- so he pointed to the red balloon, pointed to each of the three bears, etc.  I was beaming with pride and cheering from across the room.  I bet that was a bit distracting, oops.  It was spontaneous, couldn't even help myself. 

He said go, come, byebye, pops, more, cup, pointed at things, even rolled his eyes when Lynn annoyed him (swear to God).  He was flat out charming.

The thing that amazes me the most about kids like Nate?  That he is absorbing all of this and reacting to his environment through such "noise".  I don't know how else to describe it.  In between tasks, he is stimming, moving in a very jerky manner, staring into space, completely not there.  How does he bring himself back over and over again and then even remember what he's doing?  Can you imagine how hard that must be?  Think about it like being on narcotics....drifting in and out and trying to have a cohesive conversation.  Any progress that he has made (which really is a lot) has been in the face of these challenges. 

Speaking of progress....we were in the same room for Nate's evaluation today that we sat in for his initial infants and toddlers evaluation last year.  What a difference!  First and foremost- I was not alone- Thank You John- that means the world to me.  I had my wits about me, I was mentally prepared- really over prepared.  I was expecting worse.  And Nate, of course, was on his game- compared to last year....well honestly there is no comparison.  It was in this context that I could finally recognize that.  There HAS been progress.  He IS a different child.  Maybe not quite as advanced as we had hoped, we were definitely expecting more speech, but he attends at a whole different level, his eye contact is much better, and he communicates his needs.  It goes back to when they put his cup in my diaper bag last year where he could see it, but not reach it.  He tried to grab it a few times, and then walked away and gave up.  Meanwhile today he's climbing on furniture saying "come...more cup, come".  WOW

We have our first official "IEP meeting" for Nate on November 12th.  That is the day that they will review the deficits they identified today, his placement, etc.  They were talking about the goal being mainstream kindergarten eventually.  I think this is a very very lofty goal, but it comforts me to know that they are thinking this might be a possibility.  I didn't think it would be.  I am expecting to be told basically the same things I was told last month- I am preparing myself for this.  As the parent of a special needs child, I have to find a way to reframe these assessments for my own sanity.  Every little bit of progress is a huge victory- there has not been further regression.  This is an amazing group of educators; Nate has them, his private services, and two parents who would move heaven and earth for him.  We go back to Dr. Brenner on October 30th.  I am sure he will have more medical interventions to try.  We have to keep on plugging away on all of these fronts- and praying.  Please everyone keep praying for this sweet boy!

Today is a GOOD day

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