The series of evaluations began almost immediately, and for those of you with children that receive special services, you know how long this process can take. Birdie was observed in the classroom, to get eyewitness accounts of her difficulties handling some of the "constructs of a typical learning environment". She was evaluated by an educational diagnostician, who basically assesses and diagnoses learning difficulties of students, using a battery of tests and interviews. Birdie was given a psyche evaluation, which is more tests and interviews. I was interviewed. Birdie's medical history was required, which included listing all Birdie's missed milestones, medical issues, and relatives with any sort of mental health issues.
Can you say "probed"?! That's how you feel at the end of all this. Probed.
Fortunately, I have been probed this way before. It hurts a lot less the second time around. This time it was familiar and predictable, and the language of Special Education and IEPs was not a foreign language anymore. Much easier the second time.
That being said, let me offer up some friendly advice: Don't-- as in DO NOT-- read the reports generated by these evaluations. At the very least, wait until just before you can discuss the reports with a trusted friend, OR you can discuss the reports with the people that made them. Even knowing what all the clinical jargon meant, and expecting to get the Asperger's diagnosis we got for Birdie, I still wasn't ready for some of the nuances and intimations of the test results. There were no shocking revelations in the reports I received-- no flooring or surprising info that wasn't previously on my mommy radar. Every implication was expected. BUT. And there is always a but. But I still freaked out after reading them.
I freaked out a little. I freaked out more than I would like to admit. Okay, so I picked this mothertruckin' report apart when I got it. I read it more than once or twice.
I did not like hearing all these things I already know about my child presented in such a clinically cold and impersonal way. I wanted to put her into context. I wanted to say "you don't know the whole story. You don't know her. You don't know us. She does like people, she just can't show it well. I KNOW SHE RELATES TO ME, DAMMIT!" I mean, seriously-- no parent wants to see the words "Relations with Parents" on an emotional assessment at all, and especially not with a very low number beside it. Especially not when that low number (and low isn't great, by the way) has an asterisk beside it. And most especially not when you follow that little star down to the bottom of the report, where the footnote tells you said star indicates "at risk without intervention". INTERVENTION, people. What parent wouldn't freak out just a little when reading a report that contains "parents" and "INTERVENTION" in the same thought. OMG, right?! Why don't you just tell me I suck as a mom? Couldn't tact be a part of the report? (Obviously, this was the line item that most irritated me.)
By the time I went into Birdie's eligibility meeting this morning, I was nervous, but completely in my right mind again about the reports and what they all really mean. When we all sat down to discuss the results, I braced myself for any eventuality, but all the conclusions that I had come to after reading the reports were the same ones everyone else came to as well. When the verdict was handed down, and Birdie was classified as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, I was not surprised or upset, only relieved that she would be getting services. Even more, everyone at the meeting was respectful, appreciative, and complimentary of Birdie. I felt so overjoyed that this group of people knew Birdie as more than just a clinical report or case file. All my craziness and worry was for nothing. It is hard to remember as a parent, that these reports are written in a very objective way and leave out all "the good stuff" about your kid. It's nice to know that even though it didn't make the report, the good stuff in Birdie wasn't overlooked.
It's also nice that a "parental intervention" is not on the horizon.
So, not too far in my future lies an IEP development meeting. The hard part is definitely over, and I can stop obsessing about reports and start looking forward to the best possible 3rd grade experience for Birdie. I am so glad she is going to get what she needs.