When Clayton was a baby, I devoured his annual evaluation reports as soon as they showed up in the mail. I searched for signs that my child was normal in any area, was "like" other children his age. But as the years have passed, I've figured out that while necessary for proving to insurance he needs services, these evaluations really mean nothing in the whole scheme of Clayton's progress. And that is just it: CLAYTON IS MAKING PROGRESS! THIS is the only thing we should be concerned with. In his world, progress comes slow and never like that of another child his age. According to tests, he is still like a six month old in some areas. If I dwell on details like that, I could easily get overwhelmed with the negativity. Instead we all choose to think back to the times when Clayton didn't hardly speak. When Clayton couldn't unfist his left hand. When Clayton was on continuous feed because his gut was so weak. Talk about progress! Clayton has never had to use the electronic talker that was ordered for him, is starting to randomly use his left hand without prompting, and "eats" four meals a day while licking all over different foods. Not to mention the fact that Clayton's first wheelchair was the chair of a child that would never be able to sit up on his own, or even interact with people, and now he drives a power chair! So many improvements in more areas than I can name. No test can ever show most of these . . . and with that in mind, this last year's reports went in the filing cabinet without even a second glance.
Which brings me to this past Monday. We had to see one of Clayton's main doctors for a routine checkup, and part of that routine was a psychological evaluation. Doctors do these things because that's what they do. But it was a joke. And Clayton knew it was a joke! I spent 10 minutes explaining to the doctor that Clayton learns best IN CONTEXT. If he doesn't see a purpose, he doesn't do it. He doesn't think abstractly. She must not have been listening because she started in on him with her "puzzles" (don't puzzles normally have pieces?). She had a flip chart with patterns and shapes and Clayton was supposed to finish the patterns and/or find the missing shape. Yeah, right. He talked about Jackson, talked about all the southern gospel singers he listens to, talked about Katie (the dog), did everything but concentrate on her paper. She was getting frustrated, and he was laughing.
Then she pulled out a ball.
doc: "What is this Clayton?"
doc: "Can you tell me what I've got?"
doc to me: "Doesn't he know what this is?"
Again, she didn't get it. Clayton doesn't identify things for identifying sake. If he wants a ball, then he asks for it. If he is telling a story about a ball, then he says it. But he didn't need the word, so he didn't want to say it . . .
doc to me: "Does he know his birthday?"
me: "yes, Clayton tell her your birthday"
Clayton: "August 29th"
me: "Clayton, tell her your birthday"
Clayton: "August 19th"
and then he started laughing again . . . when we got to my parent's house to pick up Jackson, I was telling them about what a comedian Clayton was during his test and how he basically ignored the lady. My dad asked Clayton "no jokes aside, when is your birthday?" And of course, Clayton answered correctly then.
But I think this exchange sums up his attitude about the whole test thing in general:
me: "Clayton, tell her your address"
me: "Clayton, tell her what your address is"
Clayton: "xxxxx street"
me: "can you tell her what town we live in?"
Clayton: [with emphasis] "YOU know it, YOU tell her."
Then I was the one doing the laughing!