Friday, September 17, 2010

So Here We Go

He's scheduled for an assessment at the Brain Balance Center on Monday, so I want to get his home eval done before then. I want the official eval for a couple of reasons. One is that he's never been diagnosed, so we don't know exactly what we're dealing with. Something along the ADHD/Asperger's line. We've never had him diagnosed because it didn't occur to me we might be dealing with Asperger's until just a few months ago. Before that, I thought it was ADHD and there was no way I was putting him on drugs, so there wasn't any point in getting a diagnosis. We homeschool, so I didn't have to worry about what to tell the teacher or school. I wasn't ignoring it, though. I was trying to convince my husband that we could lessen and maybe get rid of many of the issues if we changed his diet. I've gotten luke-warm support for that, although it's gotten a lot better recently.

The second reason is that although the book recommends an elimination diet rather than blood tests to determine food allergies and sensitivities, I already know that won't work in this house. The reason for the recommendation is, of course, cost. I'm hoping that if I go to our doctor with a good reason, she'll order the blood tests and insurance will pay at least part of the cost. That's the plan, anyway. We'll see how that goes.

Master Hemispheric Checklist
So I started part of the eval last night, a check list I could do without Jeffrey in front of me. It's supposed to help determine if we're dealing with a right-brain or left-brain deficiency. There are 200 characteristics, 100 for each side. His total was 78, with 52 right-side and 26 left-side checks. Seventy-eight falls in their moderate category. Apparently it's normal to have a little of the "other-side" issues because when one side disconnects and stops growing, it eventually starts affecting the other side as well.

Before I remembered my friends' Brain Balance recommendations, I found this website in a book. They have an experimental screening tool to evaluate the possibility of a pervasive developmental disorder. It's very helpful because it actually tells you the criteria for choosing "mild", "moderate" or "severe" instead of leaving it up to you to guess. He scored 100 on that one, which is the cut off between "This score may suggest Mild PDD" and "This score may suggest Moderate PDD."

I didn't tell him what we were doing because I didn't want him to obsess about the results or what he was doing right or wrong. He had fun and when it stopped being fun we stopped for the day. It only took about an hour, maybe a little longer. First was the mixed-dominance test. His hand, foot, ear and eye all show right-dominance, which is the way it's supposed to be. (Well, they should all be the on the same side. Doesn't have to be right.) One of the questions is "which hand used to brush teeth". I had him brush his teeth so I could see. Which resulted in a step-by-step of how he brushes his teeth...and of course his little brother became hysterical because someone was brushing their teeth and he wasn't brushing his. You won't find a toddler around with cleaner teeth. So after we brushed everyone's teeth, we moved on to the next set of tests.

Head tilt test: slightly to the left
Eye balance: right
Fixation: couldn't
Pupils: I couldn't tell a difference in them
Facial muscles: I couldn't tell a difference
Soft palate: couldn't really tell - seemed like right side (Some of these tests are hard to do at home, which is part of what I'm hoping to share here. Maybe if your child has a more severe problem, these things would be more obvious? I'm sure for a trained professional, it's easy to spot. There are some more issues with the testing I'll mention later.)
Tongue deviation: right
Standing body tilt: right
Elbow bend - right - slightly
Hand placement - left - slightly (he was trying to stand "at attention" and it was hard to get him to relax so I could see what I needed to. I knew it would be so I tried to look when he did an earlier test. That's how I got the "left" answer)
Thumb strength - right was slightly weaker, but he wouldn't/couldn't hold either up straight. He kept laying them down on top of his fists
Big toe - left
Postural Assessment: 4 left & 5 right, when according to the book, they should have all been right. The really obvious ones, like his posture, were right-side

Vestibular (Balance & Spatial Awareness) Function Checklist - 86 (scale of 10-100)
Post-Rotational Tests - Slow Spin: Spinning in both directions, while spinning, he named the correct direction, then said we stopped and started spinning the other direction. We didn't. The spins I did were at two different times. He wasn't aware of stopping for several seconds after we stopped. He wasn't dizzy, though.
Fast Spin: He had no post-spin eye movement after spinning in either direction
Vestibular Ocular Reflex: Out of 10 tries with each side, he only had one incident on each of the eyes not tracking.

Auditory Function Checklist - 52 (scale 10-100)
There were actually two auditory assessments. I only did one because the other requires a tuning fork and I don't have one. If I hadn't been so sure his right side was the problem, I would have made a better effort to get one. (I did try to borrow one, but I couldn't find one.) 
Simultaneous Sound Test - heard sound on right side first (which means the left-brain worked faster) - the difference was less than 5 seconds

I'm not sure if it's just me or if a couple of the instructions aren't quite clear. Also, the checklists at the end of each section are a little confusing because we were supposed to be checking for a "yes or no" but the item was listed with the others under "left or right". Nothing earth-shattering, but I think the book should have been checked a little more closely by someone who wasn't "in the know". Over all, though, so far it's been pretty good about sticking to layman's terms or explaining very well what the big words mean. (I'm the type of person who goes to the doctor and says, "Tell me what that means in English.")

We actually did all these on Thursday. I just couldn't get the post finished. We'll do some more - maybe even get finished - today. I have to wonder, if this works, will we lose his awesome way of thinking and looking at things. Yesterday evening, while I was taking the picture of the bike, he was on the swingset, pondering gravity. "You know, Mama, if gravity pushed away from earth instead of pulling, it would be "the push of gravity" instead of "pull of gravity". Why, yes it would.

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