It figured, I guess. After a fantastic week of zig, it was time to zag. Noah came home on Thursday (post-poetry reading, which was ADORABLE) with a big fat envelope of assessment results.
And there it is.
I've been trying to write about this since Friday, I've started and stopped and deleted huge scads of text and then CTRL-Z'd them back because they seemed like better than nothing. I finally just started over this morning; apologies if this mostly turns out to be disjointed and rambling.
Not long after the psychiatrist finally said the word "Autism" out loud to me — a word I swear I have asked about and brought up to just about every therapist, teacher and assorted expert we have met with over the past six years, a word that NOBODY would ever commit to — I attended an IEP meeting.
This year marks the final year that we can use the catch-all code of "Developmental Delay." In the beginning of the year I was a little stressed about that, since none of the diagnoses we'd been given prior to that point (sensory processing disorder, dyspraxia, etc.) are options for the school district. ADHD is, however, so once we got that one, the reevalutation assessments and codes looked pretty clear cut.
Until, that is, I said the word — the A word — out loud in the IEP meeting. You'd think, based on the reaction, that I'd hurled a live grenade full of laser sharks on the table. Everyone sat up, flipped through papers, grabbed pens and started talking at once. Really? We thought so? His doctor thinks so? You're going to pursue that? Okay. Okay! That changes things. Everybody back up and start over.
The school was now obligated to assess Noah for ASD in addition to the ADHD assessment, the only one they'd been planning to do until I opened my mouth and said it. The school psychologist straight-up said she didn't think Noah would meet the diagnositic criteria. His teachers admitted that yes, Noah definitely struggles with a few Spectrummy quirks and rigidity, but but but he's so social! And so, you know, high functioning! I agreed, but said that we'd just feel more comfortable running both assessments. And that we'd be getting one done privately as well. So. That too.
I assumed the school would indeed tell us no, Noah doesn't meet the diagnostic criteria or that the Spectrummy quirks weren't having enough of an academic impact to merit that being his primary IEP code. I assumed we'd get ADHD and then have to fight going forward to get the other social/behaviorial goals on his plan, and/or fight to get them to acknowledge the results of a pricey private eval. (I guess I should mention the obvious — district services for Autism are much more comprehensive than ADHD.)
Do I ever get tired of being so wrong all the time? Because AS USUAL, I was wrong.
The ADHD assessment revealed that Noah's ADHD symptoms are vastly improved and barely having an impact at school anymore. The ASD assessment, on the other hand, revealed elevated and highly elevated scores across the entire damn board. It is having a hugely significant impact on him and that a comprehensive plan is very much needed, particularly going forward to support Noah through junior high and high school.
The whole time I was reading the report, my emotions flipped around and switched back and forth after practically every sentence. Relief at seeing it finally spelled out. Shock at seeing it there, in black and white. Sadness at reading how hard it still is for him. Elation at realizing that things are going to get so much better and so much easier now, now that it's finally spelled out in black and white.
It changes nothing and everything at the same time, if that makes sense.
Noah walked in while I was still reading, and he realized I was crying. Just a little. Just a couple involuntary tears. He asked if I was okay, what was I reading, why was I sad? I assured him that I was fine, I wasn't sad, and that I was reading about how smart he was. (This was partly true; his educational/IQ assessments were all excellent, though they think his other issues kept his scores from being even higher.) He gave me a hug.
"It's okay, Mom. You can feel happy. I'm super smart."
Oh, my amazing, awesome Noah. I do. And I know.