Yesterday we took our boy to a neuropsychologist for some learning disability testing. We had known he had some learning problems for a while, but figured he would either outgrow them or we would find the key to solve them. He didn't, and while we made some progress, we weren't making enough and we were tired of guessing what his problems were. I had never heard of neuropsychology until a few weeks ago, when we received a recommendation to contact one.
The testing process got off to a good start when the doctor asked him if he knew why he was being tested - he said he didn't even though we'd gone over it with him extensively. Then the doc asked if he knew what "neuro" meant and my good little history student said "he was an emperor of Rome." OK, good thought and it told the doc a bit of what he needed to know about the boy.
Anyway, 6 hours later we had confirmation of what we'd suspected for a while: the kid is smart enough; he's got a lot of knowledge and information in his brain, but he's got some disconnects in his processing that prevent him from really doing anything with the knowledge. He can get it in, but he can't get it back out. I never knew that "IQ" was not necessarily just one test or number, but a composite of various tests in different areas: Verbal comprehension, Preceptual Reasoning, Working Memory, Processing Speed - if I remember correctly. We have not gotten the full written report yet and my notes are sketchy (because I knew a written report was forthcoming).
We haven't told a lot of people about the testing, but enough that I've had some interesting responses. The funniest one was the person who told me that I was worrying too much, and that he'd be fine if we just kept doing what we've been doing. Hmm, how many more times should I go over the "ck" word ending rule so he can spell words like truck? If probably thousands of exposures to the word truck have not helped him spell it, why would more? Most people were curious, especially other homeschoolers as I think all of us wonder if our kid is "all right" and we are doing all we should for them.
So we have a lot of work ahead. I'm posting the list of possible problems and specialists to see in case someone else encountering this difficulties comes across these tags and has information to share.
- Central Auditory Processing Disorder - not a hearing problem, but a problem with understanding and processing what is heard; we need to see an audiologist.
- Vision testing for convergence, tracking, and other developmental skills. We don't think that's a big part of the problem, but it's probably time for a vision test anyway.
- Occupational therapy for fine motor skills - we knew writing was hard for him but had not thought of this at all.
- Testing for AD/HD and "working memory" and "processing speed" problems. If I understand this right, he will get to be hooked up to a machine and play video games while the doctor checks out his beta-wave activity; it's called "neurofeedback." He's going to love it.
- Oh there is dyslexia in there too, and possibly a touch of Asperger's Syndrome.
Whew. We have a new stack of library books - I won't be reading any fiction for a while. But we are happy and encouraged and ready move on. It is nice to be able to remind the boy that no, he is not stupid because he can't remember his math facts. But we still have to remind him that these difficulties don't mean he doesn't have to try. I don't think he understands just how much work is ahead.
Update: Sandy asks "aren't you glad you're homeschooling him so you can stay in control?" Yes indeed. It is because of the homeschooling that we were intimately aware of our son's strengths and weaknesses and were able to give the doctor a very detailed list of observations of our boy's behaviors, characteristics, and educational problems. I was told that in a school setting, the IQ test would be given, we'd get a composite number, and that would determine special ed needs, etc. But our boy's scores in the different areas were all over the place: a composite number would have been useless and would not have given us the information we need to go forward properly. (Of course kids who go to school also have involved parents who know what's going on. Don't get on me about that. But, there is a level of control taken away from the parents once the school is in the picture.)
So, yes, the homeschooling is definitely a positive factor. That, and being providentially placed in the right place at the right time, with the right people around us. But that is another topic for another day.