First, thanks to everyone for texts, emails, and facebook messages wishing us good luck today-- there was a lot going on!
Today was packed with activities-- first on the agenda was my appointment with Mairead's neuropsychologist at 9am in Boston. I had a great meeting with the doctor- I really like her a lot. She totally shares my frustration with the schools- she was getting really indignant about how they just can't ignore her needs and they HAVE to see that this child needs and deserves help and 'I don't know what's wrong with these people.' It is so gratifying to know that I am not crazy and that what I see with Mairead is what professionals see, too. So, definitely a positive experience.
First and foremost, it is not Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This is helpful in that it put my mind to rest since I still wonder sometimes, and it is helpful in that now all of the professionals who have seen her have ruled it out, and now the test scores support that. She has some characteristics that a child with ASD might exhibit, but not enough to give her a diagnosis. And, she has characteristics that very specifically contradict an ASD diagnosis. I am happy to have this ruled out, but I know that ASD often equals more services, so that part kind of stinks, but I don't want her to be getting therapy or teaching specific to ASD if that is not even what she has.
For you teacher/psychology/medical types-- the doctor administered:
DAP (Draw a Person)
She gave the diagnoses:
Communication Disorder- NOS
Possible Anxiety Disorder- NOS
The bad news is that Mairead's scores are all at about the 50th percentile with the exception of her general vocabulary which was at the 86th percentile. I am positive that the schools will tell me she is perfectly average because of that 50th percentile. However, scores in the individual categories are all over the map. Visual stuff puts her well advanced, but then verbal directions, etc, put her significantly below age level. The neuropsychologist stressed in her report that this variation is indicative of a child with some excellent skills but some real problems with interpretation and application.
The doctor thinks Mairead is very intelligent because she demonstrates a significant impairment in communication, but also demonstrates a great ability to compensate for her deficits. Many of her scores put her 'at expected level' which is not going to help with the schools, though.
The report is awesome. She was careful to use the results carefully and couch things very specifically so as to advocate for Mairead and recommend an integrated preschool, PT, OT, Speech, and further evaluation. Also, there were SO many sentences in the report that I read and thought, "Yup, that is 100% Mairead." The kid in this report is exactly the kid I see on a day to day basis, and that really made me feel like what I see every day is now on paper and can be helpful to us. She also wrote in the report that Mairead is lucky to have a "very aware and very committed mother." Maybe she meant to say that I SHOULD BE committed... lol. Seriously though, it was nice to see that.
I felt really positive after leaving the appt (once I got out of the garage-more on that later). I did not feel optimistic about the school part since I fear they will look ONLY at the scores and not at the recommendations that the doctor was so great about, but I felt VERY positive about having a professional who 100% 'gets' what is going on with Mairead. It helps me feel sane since she sees what I see.
So, Iwas leaving the doctor's office when we heard a ton of sirens outside. The office is in the Longwood Medical area, so sirens are pretty common, but there were a lot of them. The doctor said, "Oh, I hope it's nothing serious." I told her that at my last appt with her, I went out to the garage and the police/fire/EMS were there because there was an accident IN the garage. She said, "Oh, boy! I hope you aren't stuck this time!"
I go outside and there are a MILLION emergency vehicles. The area is crawling with fireman, police, pedestrians, etc. I go to my car (traffic on the street was still moving at the time) and since I am on the 4th level I can see that the building across the street has smoke billowing out a high story window. Kind of scary. So I think, 'I had better get the hell out of here before they close the garage.' Get to the bottom of the ramp and guess what? They closed the garage. I was first in line to leave but had to wait about 35 minutes. Annoying, but hey, a building was on fire!
I was SO glad I didn't have any kids with me for 35 minutes in a parked car, although Jack and Ben would have LOVED the fire trucks. I was also SO thankful I wasn't trying to get to an appt with a specialist or something- I am sure many people were screwed in the mess. Never a dull moment with us!
When I got home, it was just about time to start getting everyone ready for new schools. Mairead had her first real day at her new school (we miss Miss Joanne already) and the boys and I started a parent-child group at the Early Intervention Center where Mairead had such great experiences. It was nice to be back there-- we were even in Mairead's old classroom for part of the day.
It was a lot of fun. The boys are the 'typically developing models' for the group-- totally a role reversal for me since I am so used to being involved in groups, etc, with Mairead who is not the typical kid.
If you have a local EI center that does playgroups, I highly recommend seeing if they have a spot for your typically developing child. The activities are fun and educational, it's free, and it's a nice thing to do with your toddlers who are not old enough for preschool, etc. You can just call the main number and ask if they have a playgroup coordinator, and that person can give you more info about having your child join a group as a 'community child.'
I feel a little guilty that I enjoyed having my kids be the models and not the ones who need modeling. At the same time, I knew exactly how the other moms felt-- they kept saying things like, "Wow, your boys talk so much. Wow, they are so smart.... my Julia doesn't do that yet," etc. One mom started asking the teacher all these questions about what her daughter 'should' be doing in terms of speech, etc, and I could tell that she was kind of freaked out by what my kids were saying and what her daughter is not. My heart went out to her since I have been in her shoes for a long time with Mairead. I am not supposed to let on that my kids are the typical kids, but it was probably obvious. As time goes on, maybe I can share a little bit about our experiences, but I only want to do so if it's helpful.
I really felt for the moms- I know how they feel and it must be even harder when you don't have the education to even know what your kid needs or how to help him/her get help. I hope that Jack, Ben, and I can be of some help to them.
Mairead was happy to go to her new school. She seemed a little hesitant to let me leave, but she did remember that they have a gym there and she loved that part, so she was ok with it. HUGE thanks to my sister, Jen, for picking her up while I was at playgroup with the boys. Because I didn't pick her up, I don't know how her day went, but she seemed to be in a great mood the rest of the day. I should get some more details tomorrow about that. When Jen arrived to pick her up, the teacher asked for an ID. All Jen had with her was her DCF ID, but when she got a funny look, she made sure to tell the teacher she was my sister, not our caseworker.
That was pretty much it for the day (well, except for dinner, baths, stories, Blues Clues, teeth brushing and bed time!).
Thanks for reading-- today was busy and the drive into Boston was full of anxiety since I was so unsure of what the reports would say, but we had a great day (it was a super wa-ay... you parents know what I am talking about!).