I left work today at 3pm. Plenty of time to trek across town for a 3:30pm meeting. I skipped the expressway because the traffic line to turn was much too long. Instead I barreled forward and instead got caught at a train. A slow-moving train. I called my honey to let her know I was now running late. She left her phone at home so I couldn’t tell her. I called the school to let them know I was running late.
Mrs. Tracy went home sick – You’re meeting is likely canceled. I’m sorry that no one called to tell you.
My heart stopped. After fighting so hard for this meeting, praying so hard during the snowstorm that school would be in session today, it was all going up in flames.
Until I mentioned the other members of the team.
Oh, yes, they’re here. I’ll let them know that you’ll be late.
Breath. Bump bump. Bump bump.
As if I didn’t have enough anxiety about this meeting. Then all I could think about was my honey sitting there by herself, hoping her anxiety wasn’t getting the better of her.
I rushed into the building, trying to take a deep breath as I rounded the corner into the office. I told the secretary who I was and she escorted me into the meeting. We closed the door and began.
We started by sharing what we now know. That Eli has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS. That Eli’s motor abilities are all over the board. That Eli is receiving therapy for anxiety. That Eli is in social groups for pragmatic language concerns. That Eli is in need of extra help.
The school psychologist looked at us. She shared that we had agreed to postpone doing an evaluation at the last meeting to see what progress could be made in class and in external interventions.
WE did that? I don’t recall an evaluation ever being on the table! You wrote my kid off and didn’t give us a chance to ASK for an evaluation. Perhaps it was because budget cuts regarding special education services had recently been announced. Perhaps it was because you didn’t feel we had enough information. Either way, we never had a choice.
We’ll need documentation from the worry doctor about the PDD-NOS she said. A report from his OT. But, all of this is enough to move forward with an evaluation, if that is what we really want.
Yes. That is what we want.
Well, you know there is a lot of paperwork. We have to suspect a disability. Because of his diagnosis, the paperwork has to state that we suspect Autism. Do you understand what that means? I’m sure you do because you work for Early Intervention. Do I need to explain it further?
I looked at my honey. Tears we welling up in her eyes. We had talked about Educational Autism. We talked about how Eli had to fit in the box to qualify for any services. But she heard it from someone other than me. From someone who explained the category very matter-of-factly to her. Someone with no emotion with regards to our son. Someone who focused on the paperwork because that is her job.
And so we signed. We signed permission for him to be evaluated. We signed for the school OT to talk to his private OT. We signed for everyone present to talk to the worry doctor. And we asked for every evaluation that we could get.
The process has officially begun and we have a meeting scheduled for late March to discuss the results of all evaluations.
As we wrapped up the meeting the school psychologist mentioned that she is looking forward to meeting Eli. He sound like a great little guy.
WTF?!?! You were ready to write my kid off. To fight us about getting him evaluated and you’ve never even observed him? How dare you. You will meet my son. You will find out through your standardized tests how amazing he is. You will learn how much his body and his mind keep him from being the amazing boy that he is. And, perhaps, you will feel wrong for making him wait.
Deep. Long. Breath…
We asked how his social group with the guidance counselor was going. She shared her thoughts. We shared that he gets silly and tries to change the subject when he is anxious about something. We shared that he’s using a feelings thermometer that his worry doctor taught him. We shared that when he’s really anxious, adding numbers can distract him enough to calm him down.
And the meeting adjourned.
We left the meeting with just a little small talk. No real discussion of the events. We drove separately so there would be no discussion in the car on the way home. But we did debrief. We discussed the things that surprised each of us. We discussed the things that were hard. We discussed what would come next.
I am so fortunate to not be alone in this. Eli has 2 great parents fighting for his rights. Today his advocates made a tiny breakthrough in the brick wall separating him from the supports he so desperately needs. Today we all moved forward.