We had our first session with the doctor doing J’s autism evaluation. While spending two hours talking about all the things your kid struggles with isn’t exactly our idea of a fun morning, we were impressed with him and the interview. What a difference it is from the evaluations we’ve had with the county!
J-Man stayed home with my dad this morning while Mary and I took the 30-minute drive to his office. We’re so rarely without him that it was like this surreal date.
Anyway, the interview was based on what’s called the ADI-R – the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised. A pretty readable description of it is available here. What I liked about it is that it has a standardized structure to it, but it’s not a purely formal ‘test’. It felt like a conversation the entire time, and we were able to talk about things in whatever way or order we felt comfortable with. Again, what a huge difference from previous evaluations! The ‘test booklet’ was the size of an average magazine, so it was thorough. At the end of the main interview, there was very little we hadn’t covered.
The big positive in my book was that he listened. It’s that simple. The one thing he did that I noticed immediately was how often he said, “earlier I heard you talk about…” and then would move into a follow-up question that clearly demonstrated that he was paying attention to us. I don’t think we had to repeat ourselves at all unless we wanted to. He seemed to get it all the first time. If you’ve ever had to repeat your child’s story over and over again, especially to really dense people, you know how great it feels to be heard the first time.
The doctor will review the results of this session and score it before he sees J-Man so as to ensure a completely independent evaluation from the next round. This should give us some confidence in the final results if everything matches up.
So in two weeks, we’ll have our big day. Right now, I dread it, but I have a lot more confidence after meeting with the doctor. This is so hard on J, but he’s brave, more so than us oftentimes. I just want this to get easier for him. This hasn’t been the best couple of weeks, but then out of the blue he runs up and tackles me cackling so hard he snorts. Those are the times we know it’ll be OK.
We had to be at the doctor’s by 8:00 so we had to get J up way too early. As a result, by his 12:30 speech therapy he was toast. It was not a good session, but to her credit, his speech therapist coaxed some words out of him. The new one was “Boom!” You know, after all this, every new word makes up for whatever else goes on. Yesterday was rough, but last night he said bubbles (‘buh-buh!’) while playing with his bubbling bath toy in the tub and that washed the whole day’s difficulties away.
It’s the little victories, one at a time, that make all the difference.