I find that when you are raising a child who doesn’t share your biology it is much easier to brag on them. Don’t get me wrong, I love to brag on Isaac too, but I try not to take it too far. If I talk too much about how great Isaac is, it almost seems like I’m trying to brag on myself for making him such an awesome kid. I mean, I think we all know that Isaac got his intelligence and humor from me (and certainly his gigantic head), but it’s rude for me to flaunt that, you know?
But two other peoples’ genetics made Matthew into an awesome kid, therefore, I can brag on him till the cows come home without even a hint of guilt. So here goes…..
Less than 2 years ago, Matthew underwent testing with our local school system as he prepared to age out of the early intervention services. We knew there were deficits, but I remember being completely floored when we met to go over his test results. Looking back at the results here are some observations that jump out at me:
“Matthew uses some words to identify a few objects like “car” and in imitation, but is not able to use them to communicate or for social purposes.”
“He answers all yes/no questions with a “no” response, even when he is asked if he would like to have a highly desired snack item or toy.”
“He cried frequently, but was unable to communicate his wants or needs with words or gestures.”
Two years ago, Matthew showed deficits all but one area that he was tested in. (His Motor score was low average.) He qualified for preschool services and began in the fall of 2010.
Last year was rough, no doubt about that, but he was learning. Towards the end of the year, they canceled his physical therapy services because he was doing so well. He made up a lot of ground on his speech and his cognitive delays last year. But socially, we were still in the weeds. Big time.
This year has been better. I hate to admit that we still have a long way to go socially. If we see a classmate of his out in public, he will flat out deny that he knows them and say NO over and over again when they try to speak to him. That’s not so good. But in all other aspects this year has been much better.
About a month ago, Matthew’s teacher suggested that he be re-evaluated. It was time to write his new IEP and she couldn’t come up with any good goals because he was doing so well. When I went to pick him up after the evaluation, his teacher walked out, apologizing that it went late. “He kept getting everything right, which meant that we had to keep going until we got to the 7-year old levels on everything!!!”. Translation: my 4-year old is as smart as an average 7-year old.
At the subsequent meeting with the preschool staff, we got down to brass tacks. Scores. Then and now. Behold (and bear in mind that the scores of 85-115 are considered to be the average range):
Adaptive, 2 years ago: 80
Adaptive, today: 116
Personal/Social, 2 years ago: 61 (yes, that hurt. It hurt real bad.)
Personal/Social, today: 114 (yes, that would mean that he improved over 50 points!!!!)
Communication, 2 years ago: 61 (again, ouch)
Communication, today: 108
Motor, 2 years ago: 89
Motor, today: 125
Cognitive, 2 years ago: 62 (this one hurt the most back then, because I knew how smart he really was)
Cognitive, today: 116 (and yes, that would be ABOVE average. Ahem)
And yes, I realize and agree that test scores aren’t everything, so now I will share with you 2 things that mean more to me than any number. First, Matthew’s teacher has told me that he has been requesting to lead the class in the good-bye song at the end of the day. He sits in the large white rocking chair and leads the song and does the hand motions. It has become his unofficial duty and she says he just glows with pride while doing it. And secondly, he was telling me about a “camping adventure” he had at school. In telling me the story, he referred to “my friend, Sam”. That was the first time in 2.5 years that he ever referred to someone as his friend.
Now THAT is progress.
So you might say that I am incredibly impressed with this child who waited 2 years for a family because everyone thought he might be beyond help. Beyond hope. Too many special needs. Too scary.
A part of me wants to send this information to his agency in Korea, to say, “see? Look at this beautiful display of courage and perfection. He just needed a chance to show us all what he could do.”
There are so many other kids in Korea–and all over the world–waiting. Because of too many unknowns or what ifs. It IS scary to take that leap of faith. But there are no guarantees, ever. The truth is that not every waiting child will reach these amazing milestones. Sometimes the needs are great and sometimes they will always be great.
But every waiting child deserves the opportunity to try.