Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Einstein Syndrome

Finished up today with an evaluation of LittleMan by the county.  A month ago I posted about some concerns that daycare has with LittleMan's development, which led me to contact the county to get him evaluated for special education services.  Today I had the debrief from a psychologist and social worker.  They decided that he is delayed and should qualify for services.  They scored him in the bottom 3% for auditory comprehension and communication.  His speech is testing at a 2 year 7 mo old level, even though he is 3 years 9 mos.   They also said that he is scoring extreme for social and emotional issues.  He talks more about being sad than other kids his age, and has low self-confidence.  So this was all tough to hear, but also kind of cleansing to know that I wasn't imagining  he is significantly different from other kids.
The psychologist said something though that gave me hope.  He tested off the charts cognitively, "I can't tell you what his IQ is with these tests, but I can tell you he certainly has a lot going on in there.  He answered all the questions in the test book.  No one has ever made it to the end before.  He was answering questions correctly at a 7 year old level."
After work I went to happy hour with some friends and somehow one of them brought up that Einstein didn't start to talk until he was 3 years old. I googled it and there is a whole theory around gifted late talkers called The Einstein Syndrome.  Einstein's parents had him tested for developmental problems because he was so slow to speak.  He turned out fine as we know, a real genius.
This all feeds into my skepticism of this 'special education' process.  I see that LittleMan is different than other kids.  But I'm still  having trouble agreeing that means he needs therapy.  Where do these developmental standards and milestones come from?  Do they know how a kid from a trilingual household will assimilate language?  I'm sure not, because I asked.
During the debrief I asked about the sampling of the 'normal kids'  you know, where do they get the data on how the normal kids score?  The psychologist did not have a the answer.  She said that she thought it was based on thousands of kids from all over the country and social backgrounds.  But I wonder if that is really the case or if she is just assuming...  Having gotten my undergrad in psychology, I know how difficult it is to get good data and a truly representative sample.
She said that it is common for kids with language delays to compensate with excelled development in other areas.  Like how blind people develop superman hearing capabilities.  I'm struggling with accepting that his speech delays are a problem I need to solve.  And If I do interfere, then maybe those changes will be in expense of his spacial intelligence.
So I am proceeding with caution.  I want to take advantage of these free resources, learn from them, and see if they will help LittleMan adjust better and be a super happy kid.  But I also don't want to normalize his spirit, equalize his unique abilities, or succumb to societal pressure out of fear.  It is delicate process.
They said that I shouldn't let him get away with not trying/doing things that are hard for him.  So tonight I patiently instructed him to clean up his toys, change his clothes, and brush his teeth without assistance.  He did manage everything, but his shirt and underwear are on backwards!  That will be next week's lesson.

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