Monday, September 14, 2009

Stating the Obvious

Charlie is enrolled in our state's Early Intervention Program, Early Steps. Like any state agency, the amount of pointless paperwork is high. Luckily, I spent a couple of years in Special Ed so this isn't exactly unfamiliar territory. This week Charlie had his second "annual evaluation," which is designed to see if he still needs to be receiving services.

I used to be pretty excited about evaluations, but these days my enthusiasm has distinctly waned. They seem pointless--I know we're behind and even if we weren't we have a diagnosis (or a handful of them) so we get services either way. This is truly just a formality.

And it's an annoying formality. Not as annoying as guys who wear baseball caps sideways, but maybe the same as guys who wear baseball caps in restaurants. Side note: What is with the sideways cap? I get individuality. I get fashion as a form of self-expression, but this is just a copy of a look that was pretty horrible to begin with. And what kind of woman dates the sideways hat man? ARGH.

Back on point. So they ask you a question. You answer it. And then you have to "prove" that your answer is accurate. Again with the argh. They know that kids and dogs are different, right? Buster will sit and roll over repeatedly for a dog treat. Charlie is a little less compliant. Perfect example: A year ago, Charlie could play a mean game of peek-a-boo. This year, however, he's two and he shows zero interest. I don't think he's forgotten how to play peek-a-boo--I think he thinks it's boring and childish. GO FIGURE. He's two. He also plays with more sophisticated toys, watches TV, throws temper tantrums, and can be reasoned with (some). I mean, he's at a different developmental stage. So I can't prove that he can play peek-a-boo, but I can promise you that he does.

You should see the toys that they bring to entice him. I mean, come into my house and it looks like Toys R Us threw up in there. Each room has it's own set of toys--every single one of which looks like a it could cause some kind of hallucinogenic effect. One has so many pulsing, blinking lights that we actually call it "the seizure toy." That one is, of course, Charlie's favorite.

The testing kit comes with a plain, two-piece plastic puzzle. Or a blue cup and red block of wood. Charlie just sits there looking at these things like, "who in the hell left this crap on my tray? Got any toys? How 'bout an iPod?"

At one point, after he stared blankly at the cup and the block of wood, I asked what we were tying to get him to do. "I want to know if he can sense spaces--that the block of wood can go in the cup." So I got out our giant, light-blinking, carnival-music-playing gumball machine from Fisher Price and he happily tried to put gumballs in that. I mean, does he look like a chump? Put a cube in a cup--as if.

At the end of the evaluation came several standard questions that I've answered in the past. One of which was, "what are you concerned about?"

Here's how you know I'm a crackpot: In my head I thought, "nothing really." I mean, I know we're behind. I know there are issues. I also know that I'm doing everything in my power to help give Charlie the best life possible. So he might be in a wheelchair. Really, so what? I've come to terms with that and a whole host of other what-ifs. I can't afford to waste any more time worrying about that. I'll deal with the future when it gets here.

The evaluator also tried to probe me a little to see if I was worried about Charlie's vision. Again, I told her that I wasn't and again, crackpot alarms should be going off in your head right about now. Here's how I see it: I know he sees some. He sees the television and the computer. He sees a cell phone in your hand or an iPod. He sees toys on the floor that interest him and he crawls towards them. He looks towards unfamiliar noises. The eye doctor is unable to detect any field defect and Charlie can track a slow-moving object. His vision isn't perfect, but neither is mine. If later in life I find he does better with some augmentative devices, then fine, but he's not blind and he uses his vision quite effectively when he feels like it. I can't make him look at things if he doesn't feel like it, and he doesn't use his vision if he doesn't have to. These are deficits, but not a worst-case scenario. I don't think he's going to grow up to be a photographer. But that's fine. Really.

They'll be getting back with me pretty soon with the results. I'll keep you posted.