Last week, over on my personal blog, I wrote a post about assessments. About how I'm not going to let it get to me this time. About how I know that assessments only matter to the ones who are doing them, and that I'm going to be all zen, and barely even look at the results. They are a necessary part of getting access to services and that I know what my son is capable of, no matter what some standardized test says. Heck - I should want him test even further behind so we'll qualify for more! Okay, I didn't actually say that last part, but I'm pretty sure I was thinking it when I wrote that post. Then Friday happened.
Moe is aging out of our Early Start services, so he's been having exit assessments from the Regional Center and entrance assessments by the school district who will take over. On Friday, one of the psychologists from the RC came to observe him during one of his therapy sessions. Our ABA program director accompanied her. So the poor kid is going about his business with four adults staring at him. And of course he doesn't want to do much of anything. At one point, the psychologist - we'll call her Jennifer because that was her name - looks at me and says "Does he have any words?" Like she's never seen an autistic kid before. So she watches for a few more minutes, makes some comment along the lines of "Well, I've seen enough" and leaves. I felt like he, and I, had just failed some test.
Then, our program director pulls me aside and wants to warn me before our upcoming exit meeting that Moe's scores on the social/cognitive part of his assessment have gone down. I probably could have handled that, except I had just heard the same thing from his speech therapist the day before. We had our explanations: we started with a different baseline, understand more of where he really is right now, blah blah blah. But what I was really thinking was, "So what have we been doing the last year?" What has all the struggling and crying (mostly me), hiding in the closet (mostly Moe), 6 hours a day of people in and out of my house, putting my dog on Prozac, and me never getting out of the house been for? According to the tests, nothing. Less than nothing.
After lunch, I brought Moe to his school district entrance assessment. They had already met with my husband and I and asked us all the same questions we've answered 17 times but I still never really know the answers to. (Does he understand it is dangerous to run in the street? I don't know, I've never let him try. It this is a trick question?) This time, I just dropped him off for an hour. When I picked him up the school psychologist told me that they couldn't get through the whole thing and that I would have to bring him back again this week. And I'm not sure why, but that was the last straw. I lost it. Not right there in front of the school secretary and the six year old looking for a band-aid, but later, once the kids were finally in bed and I could get in the shower and safely hide from anyone who might suggest I need an assessment myself.