Monday, October 31, 2011

Riley's evaluation from Regional Center arrived this past weekend. It's a diagnosis for PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). It is an Autism Spectrum disorder. When you can't be lumped into one category, but there are issues, this is where they put you. It doesn't really matter, because the people that completed the evaluation, obviously saw things that we have been seeing as well, and clearly there is an impairment which needs addressing. PDD-NOS is what his therapist said early on, as well. I still think that he's Aspergers, because of the obsessions. The observer said the only reason he doesn't qualify there is that you can carry on a conversation with someone with Aspergers, but Riley can't carry on a conversation. He can discuss things, and answer questions, and offer a few tidbits here and there, but there's no back and forth reciprocation. I think it's a really fine line. Again, Autism is Autism, and he can have accommodations for PDD-NOS as well as Aspergers or Autism or sensory disorders.

The evaluation itself is very interesting. It's very clearly written, and describes some of the things he was asked and asked to do, during the evaluation. It also includes the observation done at school. Two different people worked on the evaluation. The first was the intake person, who decides if testing continues or not. That's the one with the woman, and Riley spent the entire interview looking at a spot on the wall above her head. He did not make eye contact once with her. The second lady was who he met with in October. Kevin took him to the appointment. She conducted the actual testing, and the observation at school.

Some interesting aspects of the testing. Riley was asked to pick 5 objects out of a bag, and to tell a story about them. He was unable to do this, but was able to connect them together in some fashion. He was also given opportunities to engage in a reciprocal conversation, and he was unable to do it.

The school observation went ok. The observer saw him make some conversation with other students-only after they spoke to him first. In Science the kids were supposed to find a partner. Riley roamed around, not asking anyone. The teacher found him a partner. In PE he participated to the best of his ability. The observer spoke with two teachers. Both said he was quiet, and made little eye contact. He doesn't chat much with the other kids, but will raise his hand to participate in class. The observer thought he did pretty well at school, but did note a few issues. He doesn't stand out among his peers, and the kids do not avoid him (THANK goodness). The observer felt that he functioned pretty well. I really think opposite. She saw him on a decent day-on a day when he was maybe not as "clouded" as he can be. He will talk to others, but he doesn't initiate conversation with his peers. He will walk over to them and let them start talking to him.

The recommendations: This part is interesting to me because the school does not want to give Riley an IEP. They don't think he needs services, but the recommendation is for an IEP, with accommodations in some core subject areas, such as PE (YES!!). It also specifies a need for a social group (double YES). She included resources as well-many I already know of, but a few I didn't, and also, perhaps the most awesome of all, there's some help for Quinn! There's something called SibKids that I can sign him up for, and he can interact with other kids who have special needs brothers/sisters. I am excited for that, because Quinn gets very frustrated and he doesn't understand why Riley does/says what Riley does/says.

I think I know what I am going to ask for, when we meet for the 504 plan (or maybe the IEP, if that works out). I simply want compassion and understanding. I want the teachers to just verbally check in with Riley, make sure he's turned in his work that we have worked so hard to get him to complete. I want them to email/call me if they notice anything different, and that's basically all I think he needs. This year is a really good year, but the school has hand-picked most of Riley's teachers this year. I appreciate that a lot, but now I worry about high school. Will they hand-pick his teachers for him? By handpicking, I mean the administration selects the teachers they think will be accommodating to Riley-horrible sounding huh? Some teachers will go the extra mile, some won't. Do I make an appointment with the administrator before school starts-like near the end of this school year-to discuss Riley's situation. I am hoping that this school year will give Riley the confidence he needs to succeed in high school. He really does have a better grasp of the expectations this school year. Is it because he knows what he's doing now, or is it because he has helpful, awesome teachers this year? I am hoping it's a combination of both, and I certainly hope to find that sort of combination next school year. PE is still a constant struggle, and I may try to opt him out in high school. There can't possibly be a PE teacher there, as good as the one he has this year. I love her. I am sure he'll still get a C in PE. Whatever. I'm OK with that (sort of). I'm just happy that we have not received any progress notes for an F in PE so far-in fact, we've had NO negative progress notes this trimester, from ANY teacher!! He's actually running an A in both Science and History so far!

Anyway, I am going to try and focus on this year, and worry about high school later. Right now, things are good. His teachers are great. He's happy. All of that equals one happy mom (only a little worried about high school).

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