Wednesday, December 19, 2012

To Test or Not To Test, Part II

Just when you think you've made a great when you know you've made a great decision, your kid turns on you.  Flat out turns on you and your brilliant decision-making abilities, throwing a wrench into the already creaky works, bringing what you thought was a path to nirvana (okay, maybe that's a stretch) to a mind-numbing, screeching HALT. 

We had been unsure about giving our consent to having Sammi IQ tested before her re-evaluation (read HERE for the background).  I'd submitted our consent form.  Then I'd withdrawn our consent form.  Then, upon discovering that it was actually critical to the re-evaluation process, that the whole thing would be shut down until someone cries uncle, and upon discovering that the people involved in the process were not out to get Samantha nor were they planning on making any changes based on the results of the testing but were just trying to get a full and complete picture of who Samantha is, what she's capable of, we decided to go ahead and re-submit our consent.  It just wasn't worth it to decline, and we'd likely wind up shooting ourselves in the foot (feet?) along the way. 

So we felt good about it.  We were ready for it.  Ready to get the ball rolling, anxious to get to the eligibility meeting in December and haggle over labels. 

And then Samantha got involved. 

Like, she was kinda supposed to be involved, but seriously she has her own agenda and is ready to rain chaos down on a perfectly-well-oiled machine, perfectly-well-laid plan (too many mixed metaphors?).

And that's just. what. she. did.

Testing, Day 1.  In someone's office, with the resource teacher present to lend Sammi support while the psychologist administered the test.  First 5 minutes went great by all accounts, Sammi happily answering each question.  And then?  Everything stoppped.  Something triggered Samantha to completely shut down.  Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  They tried everything.  Nope.  She wasn't having any part of it.  Not wanting to push too hard, they ended the session and sent her back to class.

Testing, Day 2 (about a week later).  They started out in someone's office, but as soon as Sammi saw the psychologist, she immediately clammed up, presenting a carbon copy of her behavior from the week before.  The Assistant Principal, another person Samantha adores and feels comfortable with, stepped in to try, to no avail.  They tried changing the location, moving it to the classroom environment, everything short of all-out bribery.  Still futile. 

Testing, Day 3 (a few days later).  One more, final try, everyone holding their collective breaths, searching the sky for the alignment of the stars...aaaaaaaand...that ultimately ended as badly as the first two sessions. 

There was nothing more they could do.  You may be thinking that perhaps Sammi would respond if either Daddy or Mommy were in the room, but I can tell you from experience, it wouldn't have made a lick of difference.  Now the evaluation has been concluded with only testimonial from myself and Sammi's teachers, a big hole left in the spot where she would have been able to speak for herself, where she could have likely competently spoken for herself in many areas of the test. 

We got the evaluation report back yesterday, 48 hours in advance of the meeting, as required.  It was tough to read, I mean, really tough, and essentially made it sound like my kid is a giant behavioral problem.  But we know better, and her teachers know better, and we also acknowledge that we need to take it for what it is, and that the report is not what's in dispute, the label is.  The report was really what we'd expected anyway, but that doesn't make it any easier to read.  On the plus side, it was so heartening to read that she's above average in her reading skills (sweetens the painful borderline found on her math skills...), and everyone agrees that she's got great social skills, makes friends easily, and plays very well with the kids in her class.  Oh, and that they like her.  :-)  Some things are definitely more important than others, and that's at the top of my list.

The eligibility meeting is tomorrow afternoon.  We have no idea what to expect.  While we know the results are incomplete, will that mean they have to try again at some point in the future?  You can pretty much bet that attempt will end in much the same way.  Will that mean they're going to accept the incomplete and base their conclusions on the testimony of the adults, and move forward?  I hope so. 

And then that will just leave the question of what label she is given.  I'm honestly not too worried (famous last words?).  I think everyone knows how we feel, and that we're likely all on the same page.  But the one wildcard in the picture is the main decision-maker, someone neither Steve nor I have met, someone neither of us has really had any kind of interaction with, someone that represents the school system, rather than the school itself. 

Fingers crossed... 


Anna Theurer said...

Oh Sammi, you are such a little stinker! I would shut down too if I had to sit in front of a strange psychologist and have my IQ tested. Excellent post, Becca. We will be at the same crossroads in 2.5 years. I am not looking forward to it. Give extra hugs to Miss Sammi

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

Wow..this is tough...I know we have to do this...but I do not understand why...I argued with our state that Maddie deserves services because her third chromosome has not gone away..therefore her Ds has not disappeared...and so no further testing should be iq test just seems to be a non factor in the over all development of our children...clearly Sammi is rockin developmentally...she is a role model for my Maddie...she gives me hope...and I am not looking forward to doing this in a couple years...smiles

Rochelle said...

Just remember any testing whether it be psychological or quick review testing we do at home with our kids is just a snapshot of that one millisecond of their life. Good or bad it is just that a snapshot.

Truly testing is to help them better place our kids it is not about the label (although the law says they have to give one).

I can throw out lots of labels for Sammi that better sum her up: fabulous, amazing, beautiful, reader extraordinaire. Shall I say more.

Don't get worried over the meeting it will go well as all of them have. Your team has Sammi's best interest in mind and that is all that counts.

♥ and hugs

Margaret Bender said...

join the club of parents who kids do not perform on demand and completely understand the ridiculousness of all those arbitrary questions!

Molly said...

Hm... She's a stubborn little stinker isn't she? I'm learning all the ins and outs of psychological testing for grad school, so I'm going to have to ask my prof about this. He's tested multitudes of kids, many whom have really negative associations with school and testing (which it sounds like Sammi doesn't have, since all her teachers love her!)

Is there any way for them to do a "nonstandardized" version, by breaking the tests up into very small pieces. It still gets you the info, but technically breaks standardization. Which test did they give her? Some are more fun than others!
I think there are a lot of good things to get out of testing like this, because it does give a lot of info on how Sammi processes stuff and how teachers can best help her, but obviously it has to be weighed against how frustrated it makes her.

Lacey said...

Man I hate labels! I wish they would just watch the children in class for so many months and then decide where they are. I agree that its just a snapshot into their lives. I'm not sure these "diagnosis" really help our children. Just let them learn, give them the opportunities, and lets just go from there!

Renee said...

Would a bribe work next time?

You have the best attitude about all this whole process.

Out One Ear - Linda Atwell said...

I love how you handle things. I don't think I handled these situations as well as you do. My 32-year old daughter and I still butt heads because we are both stubborn and both want to do things our way. Back then, I always thought of situations as win/lose. Since I was the mother, I felt I should win. But it isn't about winning and losing. I know that now. Wish I would have been better about it then. (I might have a tad bit of my father's personality in me too--and that doesn't help matters!) If so, maybe Lindsey and I wouldn't continue to drive each other crazy. :-( p.s. I have my fingers crossed for you too!

Cathleen said...

Lilly has been subjected to much more testing than the average child, even the average child with DS, as we've moved 5 times and each time moving into and out of a system she is reevaluated in every. single. area. Which is one of the reasons why we've bypassed the system and she's in private school (although there are many other reasons and we love her school, but it definitely is a perk to not have to do all the evaluations/testing. But my point is that: every time Lilly knows she is being evaluated/judged - especially in a way that is more than her typical friends - she refuses to answer. She doesn't want to be judged on her abilities. If it's a classroom evaluation/test for the entire class of her peers, she does fine. But any time an adult asks her something and she is by herself and she knows they are picking her brain, she refuses to comply. I don't blame her. Just because Sammi gets a certain result on a test based on her non-compliance of the test, take it for what it is: nonsense. :) She is smart, her teachers know and love her, she is a happy and healthy and, of course, beautiful little girl and as long as she has no *real* problems, don't worry about the results of anything.

Becca said...

It wasn't the actual results that we were worried about, though. It was whether or not they'd be able to conclude the re-evaluation process without any testing having taken place. And, as it turns out (as we discovered at today's meeting), they can't. They're going to have to try to do it again in January, and we'll reconvene in February.

Than4Keeps said...

Oh my goodness...I love your sweetie pie. She knows what's best for her and she will not hesitate to show it. The next test will be under her terms :~) Good luck!