I left you after we had consulted an educational consultant for options of elementary schools. We found a wonderful school, called The Dunblaine School, where Henry began his “academic” career. This school is a place for children with learning disabilities, which encompasses a whole grocery basket of learning differences. The first year of course, was chaotic. New environment, new kids, new teachers.
The second year in, his teacher (same one as first year), met with us and encouraged us to get a diagnosis for Henry. His teachers needed some guidance in how to help Henry. A lot of the kids that were enrolled in the school, already had a diagnosis. In fact, when meeting other parents, you quickly got to the “what does your kid have?” part. When I vaguely talked about a speech disability, a Mom who became a very good friend, said, “Ah… he’s NYD.” In the world of short forms, (ADD, ADHD, OCD, ASD/PDD), I was confused. I had not heard this one. “What’s that?” I asked. “Not yet diagnosed,” she replied. Yes – it was time to find out specifically what the trouble was – not some half-assed, vague language/speech difficulty.
I began with my family doctor. She knew about a reading disability study that was being conducted at The Hospital for Sick Children. She thought it would be helpful to participate – although it was a significant time commitment. All of the members of our family had to be assessed. But she reasoned that it was a back door way of getting into this department and having Henry assessed by the best. She also referred me to a consultant paediatrician, who specialized in ADD/ADHD. Let’s start with the Sick Kids study.
I just read over that report again. It makes your head spin. First of all, I tallied the number of “tests” that were administered to try to gain an understanding of Henry’s difficulties. I counted 33 tests! This kid was 8!! Can you imagine sitting for any period of time and taking 33 different tests?! Anyways, out of the 33, he was above average in 5 of the tests, and average on 4 of the tests. If you’re doing the math… that means he was well below average on the remaining 24 tests; many of them below the 1st percentile… If you’re a parent – how would that make you feel? I felt like throwing up on the spot! And scared…. Even reading this report again after 11 years, I feel light-headed… And they reported that his answers on some of the tasks were nonsensical. An example: He was asked, “What must you do to make water boil?” and his response was, “with some blood so I make it into poison.” WTF??!! I mean – did the clinicians think that this kid had no sense of reality or his parents were devil worshippers?! I can only surmise that when Henry felt stressed, he mentally checked out into his own little world and was maybe recalling some reference – and let me tell you – he was stressed almost every day. If you have processing difficulties and you’re in school all day trying to decode what the hell people are trying to tell you, aren’t you going to “check out” on a regular basis?
So… were we freaked out? Yeah! But since this study was not to provide an assessment, they could not give us a diagnosis. But what they did give us was a referral to a Psychologist, who had a practice in Developmental Clinical Neuropsychology (yikes!) So… here we go again…