May 11, 2009
The report arrived on Thursday, all 20 pages of it. Twenty single-spaced pages to describe something I summed up in about eight paragraphs. I've never looked so concise! Or so predictably clueless, as I was so smug in my confidence that this evaluation held no surprises or new information, that there was nothing anybody could rattle me with anymore. Am like stone! Or steel! With a soft, delicate side, and damn, I can't seem to come up with the perfect oxymoron here to describe my tough-yet-fragile nature. Steel Cadbury Creme Egg? Close enough.
So the "developmental evaluation report" arrived and I read it and I read it again and I pulled out some books and I looked up some terms I didn't understand ("tactile hypersensitivity" and "poor bilateral integration and coordination" and "disorganized motor planning") and nodded and put the report away for awhile.
And then a few hours later I stomped around the house and was all, "What do they MEAN Noah's play skills are 'simplistic and immature' for his age? What the fuck is a 'play scheme'? And why are they grading his 'play skills' anyway? I did not take him in there for concerns over his 'play skills'. Grrrr. And rawrrrr. And etc." I read it and re-read it again and read it out loud to Jason.
Later I was trying to translate the report for another mother* ("Well, basically he has bad handwriting? He can't use scissors? Eh?"), and watched her eyes narrow and her mouth start her response before I was done talking: Don't you think kids just outgrow this stuff? Don't you think we put too much pressure on them? Don't you think this is all just a load of autism boogeymonster hullabaloo?
You'd be proud of me, Internet. I just shrugged and said: Yes. And no.
There is truth to the idea that when you go LOOKING for stuff, you'll find it. Every evaluation we've gone to has had a different point or objective, and every evaluator has ultimately found "stuff" in his or her target realm. Since this report came on behalf of the school district, there is of course concern over Noah's "significant" delays in pre-writing skills and his difficulties behaving in a group setting. But at the heart, it's still the same old thing: underlying sensory integration dysfunction. We toss a few more labels on top of it to drill down to the specifics, we look at it from a different angle and setting and try to figure out what's a problem and what's a quirk and peel away the layers and it's like parenting the World's Largest Onion Parfait.
On Friday, at the Mother's Day party, I watched Noah's teacher call the class to the blue carpet. I watched Noah obey and take his spot. I watched him sing the attendance song for each child, and sit patiently while each child got a chance to jump up and down and then describe what kind of jumping they'd performed. There were ballerina jumps and princess jumps and crazy jumps and when it was Noah's turn he stood up and jumped and called it a racecar jump.
He was observed today by a member of the school district assessment team, and his teacher fretted that she'd only stayed for less than an hour, that she hadn't fully "appreciated" what class is like for Noah. I got the distinct sense that his teacher was annoyed because Noah had actually behaved the whole time. I assured her that the report "appreciated" Noah's difficulties and was really very thorough and accurate. We go back on the 20th to hear the district's decision, and incidentally find out just who was wrong about Noah. Early Intervention assured us -- over and over andoverandover -- that Noah would not qualify for special ed services. His teacher clearly thinks that's the only place he belongs. The report seems like it agrees with her, at least in part.
I put the report in the binder where I keep all of this stuff. And there it sits with everything else, suddenly not looking so thick or daunting anymore, just a few pieces of paper, just a tiny sliver of the story.
*NOT the 4:20 playdate friend**, oh no. This was a mom who has consistently scared the crap out of me all year for some reason, which is why I ended up blabbing on to her about the report in the first place, because she asked me where Noah would be going to summer camp and I PANICKED and started compulsively oversharing as a defense mechanism.
**Oh my God, so on our playdate on Friday? Her phone rang? And she answered it and said, "Can I call you back, I have a friend over right now." And I'm such a dork because inside I was all, "SQUEE SHE CALLED ME HER FRIEND!"