Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Neuropsych and IEP updates

We had two BIG meetings in two days. Yesterday Dan and I met with Elijah's awesome neuropsychologist to discuss results from recent testing. Dr. M asked to see Elijah back before fourth grade because significant changes occur in the brain right around this time. The testing showed similar findings from the last round that took place at the end of first grade. His verbal skills exceed visual by a lot. He is still a verbal communicator and learner and struggles with visuals. The good news is that he has made gains in both areas, but there is still a large gap between the two. He still has major deficits in self-awareness, organization and executive function.

Nonverbal Learning Disability is still an accurate diagnosis that describes his challenges well. Dan and I were amazed to learn how much the testing revealed that he retains. His brain retains literally almost everything that goes in, but getting him to explain it or "prove" that he knows it is the challenging part. It takes a unique strategy administered with persistence and consistency to reveal all that he knows.

There is a test Dr. M gave him that had such cool results. He showed E an abstract picture that contained various random shapes that were all connected. He let Elijah set the picture in front of him and asked him to draw a replica of it. A typical brain would look at the collection of shapes and make a plan (I'll start with the big rectangle and I see that there's a big X going through the middle; now I'll draw the triangles on the sides, etc). Elijah's brain sees a chaotic mess, so he drew something that looked somewhat like the picture but it was disjointed and with no order. Dr. M removed the picture and 30 minutes later asked him to draw what he remembered of it just from his memory. Elijah drew a couple individual shapes that weren't connected and looked nothing like the original drawing. THEN the really cool part.. 30 minutes later Dr. M showed deconstructed parts of the same picture to Elijah one at a time along with trick parts that had NOT been a part of the picture. He asked him to identify the parts he remembered being in the picture and he got 22/24 correct. Amazing! The results of this test tell us that he retains MUCH more than he is able to express.

Coincidentally, Elijah's annual IEP meeting was this afternoon. I was so glad to have fresh words from Dr. M in my head to relay to his teachers. We reiterated everything he told us about how to create a successful learning environment for Elijah and even shared his 18-page report with them. This was one of the easiest, smoothest IEP meetings we've ever attended. His classroom teacher and case manager had "the look" of understanding after Dan and I talked for just a few minutes. Last year and the year before I remember talking until I felt like crying and looking up to see eyeballs glazed over.

We explained that he is a VERBAL learner and that he needs to understand the PROCESS, not the problem. Immediately they began formulating a plan to create verbal and written scripts for him while he's at school. YESSSSSS!!!!! This is what we've been trying to get his educators to understand since that first round of testing! Such relief.

I've been a bit on overload thinking through all of this. Processing information is exhausting! :) Buddy is healing from his little surgery and is super needy. We are all so ready to move into our new house. And we STILL haven't received results from Elijah's day of mega-testing in August. In my gut I know all is well or I'd push. We'll get results for sure at his next urology appointment in early October. That's all for now! Thanks for peeking in!

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