Christopher is preparing for school in the fall or rather the school is preparing for him. We are busily scheduling and attending assessments to create a plan and determine necessary accommodations. Accommodations is special ed speak for a little help.
Yesterday he had his first assessment, this one for speech and language. Before we left I was talking to my sister Torey on the phone. I told her I was a little worried.
“As well you should be,” she said.
‘I’m afraid they’re going to tell me I’m a rotten teacher – no they won’t even give me that, they’ll go right to, “You are a terrible mother!'” We laughed picturing me crumpling to the ground sobbing. My potential humiliations are a minefield for our amusement.
At the school the therapist assured me that it wouldn’t take long. She left me in the lobby and bustling off to her office, Christopher loping after her. Before I knew it they were back and she was beaming. His speech (meaning his ability to speak, i.e. his pronunciation and articulation) was great and his language (vocabulary) was fantastic. The therapist has never had a child with hearing issues score as highly as Christopher did. She was almost giddy when she showed me the results. “YOU have done an excellent job teaching him, ” she said, clutching my arm.
I didn’t quite swoon into the river of adulation remembering that his math skills had yet to be considered.
She explained the test to me. To start she had administered it the normal way. She would say the word in question and he would point to an appropriate picture. He wasn’t doing terribly well, which wasn’t a surprise to her, but I think she was having to repeat herself, so she changed her approach. She decided to write the word down and allow him to read them. From that point he knew every one and he almost completed the list before the time ran out. The therapist has never had a student get that far before.
“He is very bright! We just need to make sure he can hear what is being said.” Bingo. We talked about possible accommodations.
She showed me the words he had missed: carpenter, canister and appliance. These were right before she began to write the words. I was surprised that he didn’t know these, but knew it was possible. He knows every appliance in our home (and read many of the owner manuals) but I wasn’t sure I ever referred to them collectively as appliances and that was the sort of word he might not come across in his extensive reading.
I explained this to the therapist. “Do you have canisters?” She asked. We don’t, at least not on the counter and it’s possible that word has never been used in our home either. I called Christopher over and pointed to the list.
“Do you know what this is?”
“Oh,” he said gesturing with his hand as he does when he’s searching for words, “it’s a container you use when you want to seal something.”
“He knows it!’ The therapist hissed.
I pointed to the word carpenter, “What’s this?”
“Someone who cuts wood,” more hand gesturing, “and builds things, like houses.”
“Do you know any carpenters?” I asked.
“Uncle David.” I nodded.
I looked at the therapist who was beaming. “His score is even higher!” He knew appliances too.
We showed Christopher where his age was recorded as well as the age he was assessed for language. “You won’t need to meet with me!” The therapist said.
Next week he has several more assessments and then there will be the formal meetings where everything is taken into account and plans are made. I have been his mother for over 13 years, his special ed advocate for 8 and his full time teacher for 4. I finally feel equipped to interpret all the testing, consult with the specialists, consider recommendations from the administrators and discuss and pray everything over with Paul. And finally, this is what I truly believe; that God is going to guide us because Christopher has a hope and a future. It’s not all up to me.
I have travelled the long way round to this conclusion, but I can’t look back and shame myself. I’m just happy to be here now.