"Mrs. Sassy Pants, I am concerned about the Boy; I've observed some social issues that I think we need to address further." That was 21 months ago at the Boy's parent-teacher conference in 1st grade. There were meetings, forms to be filled out, more meetings, & more forms to be filled out. Then there was the waiting. And waiting. And more waiting to hear from the school psychologist. The Boy's teacher went on a 12 week maternity leave, & the school psychologist seemed to think that she couldn't do her job of testing him for the things she was concerned about. Since when do they need the teacher present when they were doing evaluations & tests?? Of course, since when do professionals take 4 months to return a parents phone call?? The whole time I was a mess. She thought that my child might have ADHD or Autism (or "something else" ~ she never did disclose what this something else was).
By the time I was able to get a meeting to discuss the results of the testing, it was the second to last day of the school year. The school psychologist stated that there were a few issues that needed to be addressed, but he was "under the line" for any sort of diagnosis. Whatever..... Not really, but it was time to start summer. The Boy started summer school with the teacher he was going to have in the fall, so as to get ahead on his reading skills & so they could get to know each other. I knew she would be someone whom I could work with to help the Boy succeed.
It was time for 2nd grade, and I started getting the phone calls & reports of disruptive behavior, tears, & "outbursts." The Boy joined the swim team at one of our local YMCA's, & I started getting reports from his coaches of the Boy not listening, then the tears, the anger, & the outbursts. It's not that I didn't believe these people, but I had never seen what they were describing to me. My son had some quirks, but weren't those just a part of who he is? Didn't some of these things occur just to tick me off; after all, as a kid, it's often times fun to get under Mom's skin, right?
Then it happened. I witnessed what they were describing to me.
It started happening more & more. I set up an appointment with a child psychologist to see if we could figure this thing out. Unfortunately, we had a 5 week wait. One night at swim team practice, I walked by the pool area to see how he was doing (I work in a different part of the building), & he was in the shallow end sobbing. He was jumping up & down. He was pounding his hands in the water as if he were needing to punch something. I pulled him out & took him aside. As I held him, he sobbed, "Mom, can't we go & see that doctor person yet?! I am so mixed up & sad." How was I suppose to clock in & teach the class of mine that was starting in 15 minutes??
We finally got in on December 9th. We started meetings with a wonderful woman, whom the Boy enjoyed going to see every two weeks. She told me that she saw signs of Aspergers Syndrome, & I consented to having her test him. More papers to fill out. This was when I learned about a medical diagnosis vs. an educational diagnosis. This was when I learned that the test that the school psychologist had used the prior spring was NOT the most current test. UGH!!
February 1, 2013
Thirteen months had past since his 1st grade teacher had gotten the ball rolling, we were about to find out the results of his test. Mind you, there is so much I am not sharing in this post, because many of you lived it with me, & for that I am eternally grateful. A blog that started out as a cute way to share the sassy goings on of our household, also became a way for me to release some of what was inside my head & heart.
There was an explanation, & it had a name. The name was Aspergers, & now I had proof to take to the school. Now we could get an IEP set up for him. We could set him up for success.
I cried. How could I not?? I had failed my son. I had the hardest time wrapping my brain around this. What was the difference between a diagnosis of 299.80 & a diagnosis of 299.0?? What is ABA Therapy?? What could I have done differently to prevent this?? Why didn't I see the signs in the same way that the teachers & coaches had?? Yep, I was confused.
I remember the doctor telling, "he is still the same boy you gave birth to, that has not changed. Now we can work as a team to help him, so that he knows he has support." (Sure lady, he's not your child. He may be 8yo, but he's still my baby. My firstborn.)
I took some time to grieve for what once was & for the fear of what new & perhaps scary events that may or may not lie ahead of us. I want to thank my family & friends who saw me break down in tears. The friends who gave me hugs & told me that I was strong. The friends who reminded me that this was not my fault; that it just is.
That school psychologist was to be in attendance at the Boy's first IEP meeting. When she wouldn't return phone calls again, I had feeling from the year prior come flooding back. There was NO WAY that this woman was going to be a part of any of my three children's education in any way, shape, or form. I called HER supervisor (who at one time had been my Mom's boss when she worked for the school district), and I let loose. I was calm, cool, collected, & I took the lead. I made it clear that I was my son's voice. That we will follow the plan set in force by his outside psychologist. I did not cry. I stood my ground. This child has helped me find a strength that I never knew was inside of me.
This child has taught me how to be more patient. How to be more thoughtful of others words & actions. He has taught me how to be mindful of my words & actions. He has taught me to slow down. He has taught me to smile more. He has taught me how to love his siblings, his Dad, & everyone else in our world with all I've got. I am pretty open, & share more than you'd probably like to hear; you don't have to listen, it's okay. He has taught me that it's okay for all of us to be who we are & make no apologies for it.
He is still the same Boy that I gave birth to, but he is so much more than that. I'll love him forever, I'll like him for always (you know the story - it's true)...