Friday, April 15, 2011

A Responsive Specialist!

We had an appointment with a pediatric neurologist this morning. First let me say, I hate Atlanta traffic. I had to drive all the way through Atlanta in rush hour traffic and people are still as rude as they were ten years ago when I was commuting to my job downtown. I am SO grateful I don't have to make that drive daily anymore.

I made the appointment because I'm trying to get my son an IEP for school. We do homeschool, but officially, he's enrolled in our state's virtual school, which means public charter school. Which means hoops to jump through and standardized tests to take. He tests well, so that hasn't been an issue, but his focus seems to be getting worse and I want to address things before testing time next year. Also, in GA, 5th graders have to take a writing test at the end of the year. He is not physically able to write fast enough to be able to complete the requirements of the test in the allotted time. Because it can take months to get an IEP in place, I'm starting now (at the end of the 3rd grade). Also, there were some other concerns that I wanted to have checked. When I said something about my son not being able to tie his shoes, a friend sent me some information about dyspraxia. Although I wasn't really eager to add something else to the mix, I wanted an expert opinion.

So we got up earlier than any human should be up, battled Atlanta traffic and got to our appointment almost on time. I allowed plenty of time for driving. I didn't allow enough time for parking. It's hard to fit an SUV into a space when the cars on either side are crooked. The white lines are there for a reason, people.

Anyway, we saw Dr. Janas at Child Neurology Associates in Atlanta and she was wonderful! I'm so tired of doctors who roll their eyes or sneer or throw you out (yes, I was actually "fired" by a doctor) when you ask a question or speak the words, "I read..." 

Of course, the first thing she asked was, "What can I do for you today?" I told her, "We're here for an Asperger's evaluation, but frankly, I have no doubt he has Asperger's. I just need a doctor to make it official." She smiled, and said, "I understand."

She was great with J and with Little Brother. She was very patient and answered all my questions, with not an eye roll in sight. When I said, "What can you tell me about dyspraxia?" (I am learning how to approach these things in a non-confrontational way), her response was, "Tell me why you think he has dyspraxia." Alrighty then, she saw right through me. LOL

So the results of the appointment were:
He "officially" has Asperger's and OCD.
She gave me a referral/recommendation for Occupational Therapy for motor delay, hypotonia (low muscle tone), and sensory integration disorder.
She also wants him to go for Psychometric Testing, to include an IQ test (not really worried about that one) and tests for dysgraphia  and and dyspraxia. She said the hard part with this one is finding a place that takes insurance and is covered by our insurance.

She told me some things I didn't know (this is a constant learning experience).
Asperger's is mainly the social dysfunction and repetitive behaviors. Other behaviors are often the result of other issues. (BTW, she used the used the word "checklist" twice, which just goes to prove that the allergist who told me that Asperger's had to be specially diagnosed and that "there is no checklist" didn't know what he was talking about. I know what Dr. Janas meant, but it struck me funny that she used that exact word. But then Dr. Clueless is the one who "fired" me, so I already knew he had problems. As a friend pointed out, just as some doctor graduated at the top of his class, someone else graduated at the bottom of the class. I'm just sayin'.)
In 2012, the terms PDD and Asperger's will be removed from psychiatry’s diagnostic manual and will be folded, along with autism, into a diagnosis of austism spectrum disorder. I found this article from 2009 regarding this change (which incidently mentions the items in the paragraph above - social problems and repetitive behaviors - I had already written the paragraph above before I read the article - deja vu... or something).

Something else I learned today, neither Gmail nor Blogger (so I guess we can blame Google) spellcheck contain the words dyspraxia, Asperger's, hypotonia, or dysgraphia.


Mary H said...

So many labels just to get an IEP. :(( Why can't he just be J who needs this consideration to be the best he can be? Education is such a pain in state systems....... Your article is interesting and I'm learning from you as you are learning. :))

Amanda said...

*sigh* No kidding. Thanks, Mary. :-)

Tammy Akins said...

As a former school/pediatric Occupational Therapist my heart goes out to you. It can be tough to get your child an IEP w/out a confirmed diagnosis so you have conquered the first hurdle. Just a heads up (in case you don't already know this)...the school system will still try to get by w/ doing the least they can for your child. Sad but true fact. It may be a little different since you home school...not sure since I never had a situation like that. However, in my experience the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Also, you MUST know your rights as a parent and know what your child is entitled to under your state's law...not that this will be a problem for you but I have seen too many parents go into an IEP mtg unarmed w/ information assuming that the school has their child's best interest in mind...again, sadly not the case. If you show up w/ all your ducks in a row and a firm grasp on your rights they will know not to mess w/ you! I don't mean to sound all gloom and doom just want you to know what you may be up against. I did this for ten yrs so I saw alot. Hopefully you will have no difficulty!

Tammy Akins said...

Oh and OTs also address dysgraphia and dyspraxia. In case your insurance won't pay for the Psychometric testing, an OT w/ a strong sensory integration background can evaluate and treat him for both. It all has a sensory basis and is all connected. If you're doing OT already you may just want to kill two birds w/ one stone!

Amanda said...

Thanks, Tammy! Actually, from what I hear from other parents, our school isn't any different than others when it comes to the IEP process. At least we don't have to deal with things everyday in a school setting. It is a little harder for me to get the information I need from the school, though because I can't just walk in and talk to a counselor or something. (They do have an actual office in Atlanta where the principal, etc work.)
And at this point, I know nothing about what rights he/we have regarding the state or the school system. That's my next step. I appreciate your faith in me, though. LOL

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