Archive for January, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

Alternatively titled: Navigating the World of Special Services in the Public School System

Navigating, ha! Double ha. Ha ha. Navigating would suggest I have a map. Or saw a sign. Or knew whether I was a driver or a passenger.

Elliot was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. For those not well-versed in your acronyms, it’s Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. In short, he’s on the Autism spectrum but doesn’t meet enough of the criteria for an Autism diagnosis.

Here’s the thing about the Autism spectrum … it’s a spectrum. As humans, we all have traits on the spectrum. For example, we look for patterns – it’s what we do. Whether or not you can use that pattern matching to count cards in Vegas or just to sort your M&Ms is whether or not you’re diagnosable or just human. It’s whether or not they’re pervasive or debilitating. Elliot’s are not debilitating. Well, not often. He’s rigid. He can be rigid. His tendency toward rigidity can make other things impossible.

He’s so completely typical sometimes.

Two weeks ago I made a request for evaluation for special education services. Elliot would really benefit from some OT and some behavior modification programs. This isn’t your mother’s special ed, y’all. This is 21st Century special ed. Where kids are mainstreamed and kept with their peers as much as possible. Which is good. Because Elliot’s issues? They’re all social. If he were a grown up we’d call him a Software Engineer*.

So, I made a request 14 days ago. Today I’m told that our diagnosis from an outside agency is unacceptable. That the diagnosis “needs to be written by an individual with prescriptive authority like physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner or a physician.” I am having a hard time collaborating this assertion. The Autism Society says a clinical psychologist can diagnose. In Colorado diagnostic services can be provided by a “professional person” meaning “a person licensed to practice medicine in this state or a psychologist certified to practice in this state.” Why an Autism diagnosis needs to come from someone with prescriptive authority is baffling – there is not a pharmacological treatment for Autism.

Tomorrow I’ll fight the good fight using my words, making phone calls and asking questions. Hopefully it will result in something that helps Elliot.

*We’re not taking his diagnosis or his need for intervention lightly. But honestly? At the end of the day, when I’ve done all I can to help ensure his success I have to be able to laugh. If I don’t laugh I’ll cry. And that won’t get Elliot the services he needs.

20 Questions for the Kids

Shamelessly lifted from KellyGO

1. What makes you happy?
Audrey: my green kitties, my purple zebra and Banjo makes me happy too
Elliot: Legos … sock monkey and Banjo!

2. What makes you sad?
A: Having time out.
E: Losing sock monkey. If I lose any of my favorite things.

3. What makes you laugh?
A: tickles
E: jokes from Where The Sidewalk Ends or a poem from there … tickles

4. What is your favorite thing to do?
A: play with my green kitties
E: play Legos

5. What are you really good at?
A: doing a tickle fight, I’m really good at some games
E: building things out of Legos; I’m really good at hiding Audrey’s green kitties

6. What are you not very good at?
A: playing Legos
E: brainstorming, but I like brainstorming, except it’s not my favorite

7. What is your favorite food and drink?
A: rootbeer float, macaroni & cheese
E: rootbeer float, breadsticks, pizza and sushi

8. What’s your favorite color?
A: turquoise
E: don’t have one

9. Where is your favorite place to go?
A: bowling alley
E: Dave & Buster’s

10. Who are your best friends?
A: Madeleine, Robert & Emily
E: I don’t really have a best friend. I have lots of friends but not really a best friend.

11. What are your favorite movies or TV shows?
A: Scooby Doo
E: Scooby Doo … wait, Tom & Jerry

12. What are your favorite books?
A: I don’t have a favorite book.
E: How to Train Your Dragon

13. If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?
A: The small Yogi Bear (Boo Boo)
E: Bugs Bunny

14. What does Mommy do when you’re not around?
A: read a book
E: type or take a nap

15. What do you do when Mommy isn’t around?
A: go to school
E: play Legos

16. What is something Mommy always says to you?
A: you call me pumpkin head because I have orange hair
E: there’s nothing really that you always say to me, you say lots of words to me

17. What do you and Mommy do together?
A: play games
E: tickle fights, play sudoku

18. How are you and Mommy the same?
A: we both have freckles, we both have red hair (Elliot added that he has more freckles, calling himself a “freckle face”)
E: we each have blue in our eyes, we each have brown in our hair

19. How are you and Mommy different?
A: you’re taller
E: you’re a girl and I’m a boy, we’re different because I only have red hair in the summer

20. How do you know Mommy loves you?
A: you give us kisses and hugs
E: yes, that’s pretty much all