Today we were supposed to have an IEP (Integrated Education Plan) meeting with the school district's assessment center for Vic. However, yesterday, the psychologist heading up the team called and said that she wanted to rework this meeting into a parent conference instead to review their findings.
My stomach sort of fell to my knees when Sabs let me know, but I tried to put it out of my mind yesterday and just get through things until today.
The meeting was at 8am this morning, we were about 5 minutes late and it wound up lasting almost 2 hours because there was a lot to talk about.
I'll cut right to the chase.
Their assessment is that Vic falls on the Autism Spectrum
either with Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified
(PDD-NOS) or High Functioning Autism
(HFA). (Generally speaking, the description of PDD
at Wikipedia pretty much describes Vic's symptoms very well.)
His scores and his combination of symptoms put him right on the line for qualification on the Autism Spectrum, so his is a very mild expression of the disorder.
They feel that with continued therapy and continued early intervention and education for him and for us, that he should be able to join a normal first grade class on time with his age group, though he will likely continue to need additional special education services to support his educational needs. Among those will be ongoing speech therapy to help him overcome his communication difficulties, particularly receptive communication and potentially other services such as special classes etc.
My brain is still processing through all of this, but the overwhelming emotions I feel right now are relief and a touch of sadness.
Relief because his monster, to borrow a term from Rob
, has a name and a shape now and that makes us better able to fight it. Sadness because the monster is real and has been living with us all along, shadowy and indistinct, preying on my son's well-being.
I am very grateful to Vic's teachers at Love & Care, especially Valerie who was his 3s room teacher, for spotting the differences in his behavior and guiding us towards the support services provided by the school district.
I also feel vindicated and validated by the assessment. We always knew there was something just a little bit special about Vic, but we couldn't quite put our finger on what it was.
He's not spoiled, he's not difficult, he's just a little different and our instinct to treat him gently, patiently and to find ways to reach him that aren't "mainstream" were absolutely right on the money. I lift a big fat middle finger to the original behavior specialist who assessed Victor when he was 2 for implying that Victor's problems were related to lack of firm discipline on our part. Screw you Mr. Behaviorist, you were wrong.
From here we get to embark on a whole new road to help Victor to be happy and capable.
He'll be leaving Love & Care next week and going to Julien's day care, then starting Special Ed Pre-K classes within the month and benefiting from free transport to and from Pre-K to day care.
He'll finally really be getting the help he needs and we'll be saving a ton of money by not having to pay for preschool anymore. We're planning to reinvest that money into gymnastics and martial arts classes for him because he loves gym and we suspect he'd love to learn a martial art. We'll also sock some of the money away into savings for the upcoming move.
As terrifying as it is to have someone tell you your child is autistic, right now, I have nothing but hope for the future.
Victor is bright, funny, athletic, caring, cute and full of laughter. He just needs slightly better armor and a new sword to fight off the dragons in his head.