Monday, January 17, 2011

choosing an opinion

Some days, I think that everybody is testing their kid for this or that. Other days, I think that this must be impossible - if it takes 24 months to get an appointment for developmental testing at the local children's hospital, then how? where? are these tests being done?

I'm not sure if we can get to you before next fall, said the nice lady from the public schools. We've got quite a wait list. 
It's going to take a while to set up the appointments, said the friendly person from the pediatrician's chosen psych department. Do you need to see a psychiatrist, or a social worker? A developmental pediatrician?

I had no idea. Who should we see? Who could look at the Toddles, and see through the carapace, and past any filters created by our fears? We were, after all, filling out the questionnaires - and I knew well how easy it is to talk our way into a diagnosis. At chez Imperfect, if we're not being pushed off-base by some parenting worry, some medical concern or other, would we know what to do with ourselves? Hemophilia, allergies, immunology, dermatology, rheumatology, neurology - by now, I think we're beyond worried, we've paddled around in skepticism, and now? Now, I fear, we might be in a rut. Diagnose our kid with something new? Sighhhh. Lacking the expertise to argue against it, all too vulnerable to our own worries, all we could do is stack the deck in the favor of clear-sightedness.

Test him? Fine. But not once - twice. That spring and summer, we talked to two thoughtful, careful women, one recommended by the Eldest's heme team, another by our pediatrician. Realizing their doubled role, the two talked to each other.

And they tested the kid.

It was three days of stomach twisting. The Toddles refused to enter any offices, so the testing happened in waiting rooms, on the floor. And I sat behind the child, silent and oh, scared shitless. Filling my hands with yarn, because, hey, it was something to do.

And stared.

I've only seen this once before, the developmental neuropsych told me, but he's beyond even that.  I watched the Toddles, and found nothing to say. I don't think there's a school in the area that can handle him,  the neuropsych said, gently. I'll give you the name of an educational specialist, and maybe she can help. 

Behind us, the Toddles was playing with three, four digit numbers. Flying airplanes. Whisking through school competency tests for 14 year olds. Giggling. Was this hiding in the carapace? Did it have a name?

Gifted, the neuropsych told me. Do IQ numbers mean anything to you? [name of tests] scores?
I shook my head. Breathed a bit. Not autistic? Not -  I rattled off the litany of our fears.
No. But, she said, you might think - and began explaining how this or that behavior looked like this or that psychiatric/developmental condition, but - but I was gone.

Not autistic. Nor normal. Going to be okay? The two developmental medical folks thought so, but offered qualifications. Footnotes. Gentle explanations of what their expertise did and did not cover. But didn't my expertise cover the kid? And what about -

I whipped out my phone.

Um, yeah.  the teacher replied. We knew that.
Oh,  I said. I didn't.

The kid curled into me. Let's go home, he breathed, and sank into his carapace. I carried him to the car, red curls tickling my chin, his legs wrapped around my hips. Can it be quiet now? he asked, and lost in my own thoughts, I agreed.

What lens do I need, to see him clearly? What lens had I wearing?

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