Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Psychoeducational Evaluation, Step 1 - Initial Interview
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As I mentioned in November, Luke has been referred for a psychoeducational evaluation to investigate why there is such a discrepancy between his reading and math ability. When I called, the first appointment we could get was in January. This was not for the actual testing, but for (what they called) the "getting to know you" meeting. Basically, it is where they ask "so what seems to be the problem?" and determine if testing is the right way to go.
Luke's appointment was this past Monday, and it went fairly well. Luke did his some of his typical not listening type behaviors, which I guess is good, though he actually was not as fidgety as he often is (I'm sure that will come out during the 6 hour testing that will come later). I like this doctor. His opening statement: "We assume that everyone who comes in is normal." Sounds good to me; in situations like this, I am all for the skeptical approach. Unless a very obvious problem identifies itself during the initial 45 minutes session (and it rarely does), then they go into the tests still assuming that the child is normal. And unless the tests clearly indicate a deficiency, then they leave with a diagnosis of normal (though possibly with other factors at play; more on that in a bit). Translation: they do NOT go looking to confirm a problem. They feel there must be conclusive proof (or as close as you can get in the psychological world) that there is a problem before diagnosing someone with one.
Per the doctor, there are seven major brain/cognitive functions: Visual Processing, Auditory Processing, Short Term Memory, Long Term Memory, Acquired Knowledge, and two others I'm forgetting (really should have taken notes). It is those seven "brain abilities" that will be tested in various ways. Basically, is his brain capable of doing those seven things, or is there some sort of "deficiency"? If there is a lack of ability (i.e. his brain really can't do it, or not very well), the tests should catch it, and a treatment plan can be devised. If no deficiency is identified (i.e. he is "normal"), then he is diagnosed simply as having a delay. It's not that his brain *can't* do it, it's just hasn't developed to the point that it can do it as easily/quickly as "someone" says he should. They can work with him on that, too, but sometimes the brain isn't ready until it's ready, and the only solution is time and practice.
The key takeaway sentence for me: "For every child of any other age that I see, I see four 8-year-olds. Why? Because they are in 2nd grade and learning to read." (emphasis mine) Per the doctor, if Luke was at one of the elite private schools in Atlanta, we wouldn't be having this conversation, because they don't start teaching formal reading until 4th grade. If he was at Montessori, we would not be having this conversation, because of their style of teaching. If he was in school in Finland, one of the foremost education systems in the world, we would not be having this conversation, because they don't even start true formal schooling with their children until age 7 (so he would not yet have been identified as "late" on anything). The only reason we are having this conversation is because he is not where the "standards" of the local school system say he should be.
My interpretation: It is quite likely that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Luke, other than the fact that he is an 8 year old boy who likes math and doesn't like reading. The tests will very likely come back showing that he is either normal or has only a very slight deficiency in some (relatively) minor way that is (relatively) easy to treat. But we won't know until he is tested. They will wrangle things out with the insurance company and get us an estimate of the cost of the testing (little to none is likely to be covered). When they call with the estimate, we can either take time to decide or go on and schedule the testing then. The scheduling person was out when we left, so I'm not sure what the earliest testing slot we can get is. Guess I'll find out in a few days. I would ask you to wish us luck, but on what exactly, I'm not sure. At this point, I am not at all sure what I desire the outcome to be. Just please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Currently feeling: ready to move on