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[personal profile] mellymell
It's official: our child is gifted. I suppose in addition to his guitar, keyboard and hand drums, we must now also get him a sax-o-mo-phone.

We finally had his evaluation last Tuesday at Vanderbilt. They did an IQ test along with some behavioral tests. On Thursday, I went back without Jonah to discuss the results with them. His I.Q. is 129 (which is 97th percentile for his age). He displays many behaviors in the ADHD and Autism spectrum columns of the behavioral tests and the questionnaires that his teachers and I filled out. However, he does not display enough of either for them to diagnose him with anything. Most importantly, he does display certain key social skills (wanting to please others, consideration, affection, etc.) which completely eliminate him from the Autism spectrum. This means these are likely behaviors that can be corrected and not necessarily the symptoms of a disorder.

One big red flag to her (aside from the questionnaires), was the difference between his verbal thinking scores and his non-verbal thinking. On the verbal side, he's almost off the charts with a 135. On the non-verbal, he's still above average, but less so with a 115. She said a gap that significant between those numbers doesn't often happen and it's a clue that something might be hindering his potential somewhere.

Another point of concern and something we need to keep an eye on is his speech development. That's always been a weak point for him. He's always been a little bit ahead in what he could understand verbally and a little bit behind in speaking. He's still running his words together and the structure of his sentences is very awkward and sometimes almost backwards from what they should be. The little guy tries to spit everything out at once, I just don't think his mouth can keep up with his brain. If you've heard him talk for any length of time, as when he's telling a story or something, you hear he sort of stutters a bit and repeats words over and over when he loses his train of thought. When he's on track, he talks so quickly, he jumbles up his words so they're hard to understand and takes these huge gasps of air when he just can't breathe anymore. She said this is something we might consider seeing a speech therapist for later on, but only after we've monitored his progress and taken some steps to tend to his behavioral issues, which are a bigger priority right now.

On those steps, there is a free program here called R.I.P. (Regional Intervention Program) which teaches positive parenting techniques to help circumvent some of those behavioral weaknesses while really accentuating the strengths. As soon as I mentioned this program to his teachers and even our neighbor, everyone had glowing recommendations from people they know who've gone through it. Absolutely no one has said, "I wish I didn't go through R.I.P." The director of his preschool did issue a little bit of a reality of the program though. She said, "you'll go in there and you'll think, 'thank God it's not as bad as it could be' because there are bound to be kids in there that are just in really bad shape." But by the end of it, she said, they all walk out completely changed and so do the parents. Really, it's not about changing the child, but changing how you parent. It's quite a commitment though. The reason it is a free program is that once you've gone through the two days (or nights) per week for four months, you turn around and pay back your time, one visit for every one you received, to teach other parents the program. There's a waiting list so I have no idea how soon we'll get in and I may have to rearrange his preschool schedule next year to accommodate. But whatever sacrifices we need to make, I believe it will be worth it.

One of the other things, based on his I.Q. test results, he's eligible for the Encore program. We have to jump through a couple of other hoops to get him enrolled in it and I'm waiting to get a copy of his evaluation results to share with his preschool so they can help me get the ball rolling on that for next year. Again, it being a half day per week at another school might mean I have to rearrange his preschool schedule, but I think it will be worth it. And this is a metro schools thing that can go through 8th grade for him.

None of this comes much as a surprise to me. In talking to Chris' mom, he had a lot of the same problems I did in school, as far as becoming easily bored and just checking out mentally. Once I got disinterested in something, there was very little to bring me back around enough to perform (I could usually take a test, but forget assignments that needed to be done on my own, those just weren't happening). Apparently Chris was similar. I was given an I.Q. test by my therapist when I was 16. I forget what my exact score was but I remember a 97th percentile mention as well. At the time, they put me on wellbutrin, because again, it wasn't that I was incapable of focusing like kids with ADD were, it was just easy for me to disengage. I'm not sure it helped much. I didn't notice a difference and so I stopped taking it. I don't want him to have those same problems, so here's hoping we can turn this around now before he even gets to school where it will affect his performance.

On that note, she said at a preschool level, it's easy enough for him to compensate for his lack of focus with his intelligence and still perform. But once he gets into school, even at a kindergarten level, that's going to become a problem immediately. He already doesn't finish tasks before moving onto the next thing, but in preschool, particularly the one he goes to, that's not really a problem. He's not really expected to finish things if he doesn't want to. She said he's a major candidate for getting bored and getting into trouble at school once he goes to kindergarten and above. But again, we have a whole year to work these things out before it becomes a problem for him.

So that's what's before us now. We have an incredibly bright son who can't focus, has trouble finishing tasks before jumping to the next one, will completely disengage from tasks if he gets bored with them (bedtime, getting dressed, getting ready for school, picking up toys, etc.) and when he gets bored and disengages, has a very high susceptibility to getting into trouble. These are all things we need to figure out how to help him with before he starts kindergarten. I really don't think it will matter if he goes to public school, private school or homeschool, these are things we need to address as soon as possible. They kept saying how lucky we were to be in this area with these programs at our disposal, the preschool we go to being an ideal one for him (not too structured, but does have a curriculum) and the elementary school being one of the best in the county AND having over a year to work on all this before he even has think about sitting in a kindergarten classroom for 6 hours a day. They want us to go through these programs, keep an eye on the speech and the behavior and be in touch if anything seems to get worse or if new things develop that might push him more towards the "disorder" realm, and then they want to see him again in a year to see how he's doing. We have a lot of work ahead of us and a lot of my plans for personal ventures are going to need to be put on hold to make sure he gets what he needs. But that's what being a parent is all about. It's our duty to bring him up right and if he needs help, that has to be our priority.

In a sort of related note: Easily distracted people may have too much brain.
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mellymell

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