Over the past few weeks, Ben has had testing, evaluations, IEP (Individual Education Plan) and progress meetings to either determine his developmental level or discuss improvements he has made in a specified time period. I have been thrilled with the progress he has made and the new goals set for him.
The psychological tests I have completed feel strange to answer because so many items do not relate to Ben because he does not talk or have typical physical abilities. The questions do not seem to apply to him. But he needs these tests in order to receive aide, so I complete them and hope for the best.
Testing and evaluating are all part of life - and in truth, I like to have specific documentation outlining goals and progress. But there are other times when Ben has blown me away with things he has done that are not measured on a Lickert scale or answered in a question on a test. Those are the times when I give Ben extra credit.
At 1:30am, Ben woke up for a drink. As I was sitting on one side of his bed and he was on the other, he started to climb over the bed to get back into it. He has one of those fire truck beds and the sides are high, so Ben has to really make an effort to get over the side. How amazing is this kid to be taking the most difficult way to get back in and succeeding. This time last year, he could not have done that. And more importantly, this is the way his brothers get in because it is more fun.
A few weeks ago, we took Ben and Logan to the circus. It is a 2 1/2 hour show - Ben sat on his own through the first two hours with full attention on the show (and popcorn). Last year when he went, his attention was good, but it had definitely improved in the year's time. I was proud of Ben for being able to enjoy the show for that long. His maturity and attention span have grown.
Another huge deal that I have forgotten about is Ben's biting - or now lack of biting. Ben was known as "the biter" - we warned people to be careful around him. I realize now I do not flinch if Ben snuggles next to me, or lays on my shoulder, a favorite place for him to bite. Even Logan introduces Ben without adding the statement, "He bites."
When you are completing those questionnaires or sitting in an IEP meeting, remember there are other meaningful ways to measure a person's growth and development. And because life is hectic and crazy at times, it so easy to take new skills and behaviors for granted without giving them the extra credit they deserve.