Monday, March 4, 2013

Moderately Abnormal

"I'd like to go over the results of Ryan's testing with you one-on-one before the PPT."

Dr. L, the school district psychologist has been coordinating Ryan's triennial testing, which is supposed to determine his specific needs so his teachers and therapists can properly address them.

"Sometimes it's just too much to absorb in a group setting,"  she acknowledged.

There are nine Assessment Measures with more- or less-understandable names, acronyms, and abbreviations - ADOS-2, BASC-2, Vineland-II, Parent Interview (I had to sit down with Dr. L for an hour and a half and tearfully list all the things Ryan can and can not do), CARS2-QPC...  And most anxiety-producing for me, the SB-V - an IQ test.

The one which would produce a number I feel like I can actually understand.

A number that ranks my barely-verbal child against the population of Lake Woebegone and makes it perfectly clear to me and everyone else who cares to know that my baby's "Adaptive Level" in many areas is "Mildly Deficient."

Dr. L tried to focus my eyes on the subtests in which Ryan placed in the "Average/Normative Range," like "Nonverbal Quantitative Reasoning" (math), but I kept getting stuck on the Full Scale IQ number.

There's a lot of baggage attached to your IQ. It's a number I've always thought of as shorthand for How Smart You Are. Someone invented this test based on criteria I don't understand, and the higher your score, they say, the smarter you are; and the lower your score, the dumber you are.

As a person whose IQ is above average, I have been guilty my whole life of a sort of snobbery on the subject of relative intelligence. It has been my unwritten assumption that anyone with an IQ score below 100 falls into the "stupid" category and (I'm embarrassed to admit my bias, but) is probably not worth dealing with.

I don't really understand how one tests a kid like Ryan with any degree of accuracy - based on what little I've read, neither do professionals. The school used the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales Index, which may or may not be appropriate for children with autism; this test frequently pegs autistic kids as mentally retarded because they lack the communication skills to properly respond to the test questions, even though their intelligence may shine through in other forums.

In any case, I have 13 single-spaced pages of test results peppered with phrases like "At Risk," "Mildly Deficient," "Moderately Low," "Normative Weakness," and "Moderately Abnormal." Page after page of carefully-calculated numbers detailing all of Ryan's challenges, and arriving at the conclusion that my baby falls into a category I grew up assuming was too stupid to bother talking to.

I'd like to think that part of being intelligent is being able to recognize when you're wrong, and I've been really really wrong. Ryan is bright and loving and clever and filled with joy. He is the most beautiful person I've ever known, and he has an amazing ability to charm the pants off everyone he meets. No matter what these test results say, Ryan is deserving of love and attention and respect. I am ashamed that I would ever have ruled him out categorically, and I wonder how many wonderful people I have brushed off over the years.

And I hope that as Ryan grows up people see him for the lovable person he is.

1 comment:

  1. Very touching and well said. You brought tears to my eyes. You are a fabulous person. No matter what we think in our youths, it's how we grow as a human that matters. You have more tham made up for any bad thought of others by being such a great mom.


Keep it civil, people.