Monday, April 7, 2014

Part 3 - Ben's Strengths Uncovered

If you have not read Part 1 and Part 2, then catch up here. For a quick summary - Ben participated in IQ testing over the past several months with a neuro-psychologist and the school psychologist. Part 3 will review the results.

After each of Ben's testing sessions with the neuro-psychologist's team, the doctor called me to brag about how well Ben did on each portion of the test. Many months have past since the actual testing and the feedback meeting. It has taken me a long time to write this. I was not sure how to approach it - it was a lot to take in for me both intellectually and emotionally. Digesting it all and then writing about it was a hard task. I started this post numerous times.

At the feedback meeting, the neuro-psychologist gave us information about the tests, the scores and what they meant. I am not getting into the scores because they are just numbers. I don't think I could do justice to the meaning of the numbers and the test descriptions. If you want to know more, send a comment or email to me and I will send you more detail.

The things we learned that are important about Ben are the following:

1. Ben learns best by seeing, rather than hearing.

2. Ben's understanding of vocabulary is high. This means his receptive language is good - when we speak to him, he understands most of what we say to him.

3. Putting together puzzle pieces or building blocks into shapes are difficult tasks for Ben. This could translate to abstract learning is more difficult than concrete learning.

4. One and two step commands are easiest for Ben.

Overall, Ben's scores were much higher than his school psychological testing in 2011. Of course, this time the tests were given in a much different manner (NOVA Chat, private OT helping) and Ben has developed quite a bit in the last three years.

Right after this feedback meeting, we also had Ben's three year school re-evaluation. The school used these new testing results as well as additional testing to update Ben's IEP. For most everyone who knows Ben, these tests only confirmed what we have known about Ben: He has a lot going on in that brain of his, but it is hard for him to get it out. These tests validated my own thoughts. I have proof now when I talk about what Ben is capable of accomplishing.

Armed with these new test results, Ben will go into middle school with a thorough and well-planned IEP. I personally feel like I have the ammunition to ask for more services, challenging work and higher expectations for Ben in the classroom. Already at home, we have updated his goals in our at-home programs. Ben has more responsibility and a few chores. He empties his book bag each day, makes his bed (one corner) and puts his laundry in his drawers. All this is done with assistance, but he does understand the task and what he needs to do, even if he completes the task with the same reluctance any ten year old has about chores.

In the end, I do recommend the testing. A few lessons I learned along the way:

1. Choose a doctor who will truly listen to your child's needs for testing. Ben was able to have his NOVA Chat in some of the testing. We also asked our private OT to help with the proctoring.

2. Be sure the doctor chooses accurate tests based on your child's needs. Ben is non-verbal so special non-verbal tests were used with him.

3.  Use an appropriate testing environment for your child. This is funny, but it happened: Ben was enamored with one of the female proctors in the testing room. They had to ask her to leave because she was disrupting Ben's attention.

4. These tests need to be put in their proper perspective. Sometimes testing will not go well - child will be sick, not in the mood or the test just does not work for your child. Other times, everything will fall into place and the scores are what you expect. Or perhaps you think your child should have scored higher. It can be emotional either way - scores high or low.  Before you get into testing, have a clear plan for what the test scores are for - school, home, future goals. Understand why you are testing and for whom the testing is for.

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