Friday, April 8, 2011
J-man can show many faces in a single day and is heavily influenced by the approach that people take with him. Explaining that to people who don't know him well can be difficult. When I try and explain who he is and how he functions, well.... (it just doesn't matter if they are a 'expert')... there is this sense that they don't believe me. Or trust my instincts... my understanding... of what makes him tick.
So when my very words were verified by the J-man during his evaluation yesterday, it was a little bittersweet.
Yesterday J-man had a "full psychological evaluation", including an IQ test. You may be asking yourself: Err, why??
Well.... we are considering enrolling J-man in a new specialized preschool program that has special needs children included. If we decide to do it, it will be a trial... we love J&J, but we would like more support for J-man's language development. One of the requirements is a full evaluation including an IQ test (remind me someday to give you my rant on IQ testing in language impaired/socially delayed/autism spectrum kiddos).
And, of course, I knew J-man would not comply with an IQ test. Oh no, not my boy... but you know, they aren't gonna listen to me. So we went ahead with the full knowledge that this testing would have nothing to do with his abilities. And ...hmmm, about 5 minutes in the Dr O knew it too. Dr O was a very mild mannered, gentle man, and I don't think J-man hated him. But (for those of you who follow J-man's story) J-man does not respond well to new adults. I knew after the first time Dr O addressed J-man that he was not going to get J-man at his best. It probably didn't help that the first sentance he uttered to J-man had 9 words in it (I counted).
The next phase of the evaluation was the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) . I have really kinda avoided having the ADOS done up until this point. You might find that strange, but really... I have had good reasons! You see, in my former life (before J-man and Big Daddy), I used to work as a child fellow in an autism clinic and helped administer the ADOS on a regular basis. Ironic, I know. Anyway, one of the downsides to the ADOS is its heavy use of language, especially receptive language skills. So a child with significant challenges in language are already at a disadvantage in the ADOS.
Since I was very familiar with the test, it was hard to me to not... well, put my oar in. I held back as much as possible. Really, I did. It became clear fairly early on that J-man was not remotely interested in doing anything Dr O wanted him to. He wanted to get J-man to play with cars.... J-man wanted the Legos on the shelf. He blew bubbles and a balloon up.... usual big fun for the J-man... he was only mildly interested.
J-man was in "I don't want to do what you want me to do because you want me to do it" mode.
One element of the ADOS is having a "birthday party for the doll". There is a playdough birthday cake, a plate, a fork, a cup, birthday candles, and (of course) a doll. The administrator has the child help make the cake, put the candles in, pretend to light them, blow them out, sing happy birthday, and then feed the baby. Or at least some participation in the play activity. The purpose of this exercise is to examine the child's social engagement, social play, and pretend or imaginative play.
Dr O announced the birthday party. J-man barely glanced up. Dr O got out the playdough which peaked J-man's interest. He joined Dr O at the table. Dr O suggested J-man put in the candles in the playdough cake, which he did. He encouraged J-man to blow out the candles. J-man sorta, kinda did it. Dr O started to sing Happy Birthday. J-man said "No no no no no no!!". He isn't a big fan of singing.
And I thought it was just me...
Dr O then tried to get J-man to feed the baby. J-man headed for the other side of the room and started to play with legos. Sigh....
Dr O asked me if J-man ever shows imaginative or pretend play. I said yes, but it was still emerging. But, I said, this whole "event" is more about J-man not doing what we want him to do, not because he doesn't know how to pretend or exhibit pretend play. I told him that J-man does readily engage in social learning, but not social engagement. I could see on Dr O's face that he wasn't sure about my assessment of the situation.... mommy in denial, perhaps?
And then... get this.... it is fricken classic!!
As we are discussing this, J-man ventures over to the birthday party table. He picks up the folk, puts cake on it, and feeds the baby. Starts to make smacking noises... yum yum yum. Gives the baby a drink from the cup and makes gulping noises. By this time, Dr O's jaw is on the floor. He hands J-man a blanket and J-man puts it on the baby and says "nigh nigh". And then he was off... across the room... back to the legos.
Which is what I said to Dr O, and I could tell that my words were now carrying much more weight.
We should get the evaluation back in a couple of weeks, but I am pretty sure he will be diagnosed with autism or PDD-NOS. I know from his performance on the ADOS, he was at his worst. So, we shall see...
But do you think the story is over??? Oh no... stay tuned for part 2... coming soon!