Thing Two had his annual evaluation by the neurodevelopmental pediatrician yesterday. Truly lovely woman, knows her stuff cold, no issues with her whatsoever, but there's something about sitting in a room once a year and being told everything that's wrong with your kid in stark clinical detail that always sends me into shutdown mode for a couple of hours afterward.
She generally starts off by talking to us while he does paperwork down the hall: writing samples, math problems, that sort of thing. Then she sends us to the waiting room while she talks to him and administers all of her tests. When those are all done, she sends him down the hall again to play while she brings us back in and goes over the test results. From start to finish (including a quick physical exam by one of her nurses at the beginning), the whole process usually takes somewhere between two and a half and three hours: quite a production. She's able to give us an annual snapshot of how he's doing, since she only sees him once a year...the rest of us who work with him (Himself and me included) don't necessarily notice changes because we are with him so much more. She also provides valuable input as to which assessment tests should be run and what services he needs.
Essentially, his difficulties boil down to a relatively severe problem with the processing of incoming (receptive) and outgoing (expressive) language. Some features of mild autism (although she's convinced that he's not actually autistic) and some features of ADHD as well, but nothing that rises to a clinical level. Luckily for him, he's smart as hell under all the crossed language wires in his brain. Despite the deficit, he tests at or above grade level in most academic areas and WAY above grade level in some (12th grade-level spelling for an incoming fourth grader, for example?? That was a shocker.) She saw improvement from the year before in almost all areas she tested, so he's unquestionably continuing to progress, but nobody knows exactly how FAR he's going to be able to progress. Modern medicine is sadly lacking in magic 8-balls. All *I* want to know is if he's ever going to be able to pass for a "normal" kid (whatever the hell that might be) and nobody can answer that question. And not because his differences bother me--I love the kid as he is--but because I don't want them to impede him. As his mom, all I want is for him to be independent, have friends, have a job, have a life that makes him happy...all of which require a mastery of language and social skills (secondary issue to the language problems for him.)
So, in the meantime, we cling to the progress that's being made. He has friends at school. He enjoys school and is doing well (see comment above about him being smart despite the crossed wires.) He can carry on a conversation on the phone now, and get involved in imaginative play, two things that eluded him until a year or two ago. He plays on soccer, baseball and basketball teams, studies both judo and taekwondo, is two years into piano lessons and is even going to be trying the trumpet in fourth grade band next year, for heaven's sake. Compared to so many children with more severe medical issues, we have nothing to complain about, and I really do know that. (Hell, considering that just a few short years ago we really had no idea if he was going to be able to function in a kindergarten classroom, the fact that he just blew the doors off third grade with a relative minimum of classroom support should be grounds for celebration, and I know that too.) I just don't deal well with uncertainty, and that kid's future is one giant ball of uncertainty.
One small step at a time, I guess. Progress.