Friday, November 20, 2015

What we've been waiting over a year for: R's Assessment

It has been almost two months since we had Rhys assessed at Sunnyhill. Or rather, it was done at the Fraser Developmental Clinic in New Wesminster. When we were sent there I was unclear if FDC was a part of Sunnyhill or contracted out and if we went there due to a shorter drive distance or due to S being so busy. But whatever the reason, I was very pleased with our experience. The Fraser Developmental Clinic has a very professional and caring staff of specialists (plus a friendly and fun receptionist). We were there for 8 sessions over a 5 day period. Most were interviews with Hunny and myself, some were just with Rhys, which was hard at first. To not be in the room with him, that is. Other than school (or a birthday party or Sunday school), I have always been with him, being his voice and advocate. And here, he had to see a few doctors without me in the room. It took me a bit to get used to. Handing your child off to people you don't know, whether they are professionals or not, takes a lot of trust.

At the end of our sessions, we met with all of the Specialists for a conference to discuss the results. (minus Rhys) We met with the Developmental Pediatrician, Psychologist, Speech-Language Pathologist, Clinical Social Worker, Occupational Therapist, and a Case Manager. I was so nervous! What if they said nothing was wrong? What if they mentioned something that I hadn't thought of or mentally prepared myself for? Would I cry? (I thought I would, so I brought tissues in my pocket, just in case!)

The conference was, to be honest, quite anti-climatic. They didn't say anything that we didn't know or observe on our own. But they give us a few names.
-Verbal Learning Disability
-Written Output Learning Disability
-Math Learning Disability
-Reading Learning Disability
-Communication Disorder (more info on that HERE)

That's a lot of Disabilities and Disorders. Which is sad.

 First off, they started by reminding us of what a sweet boy he is (we know!) and how friendly and caring he is, and what a fun gentle spirit he has. (we agree!) The Psychologist talked the most, but she, and the Speech Pathologist and Occupational Therapist gave the most info. But really they were all so helpful. The diagnosis they were able to give us were "verbal learning disability" (he has never been good with verbal and has a poor memory, and learns better visually) and "communication/language disorder." So no surprise there. They did not say that we needed to get him therapy somewhere (although, if it worked for our family, they'd suggest ST) but they were going to "Strongly Recommend school support" to our principal. That was an answer I was really looking for! I don't know what exactly that will mean, or what the school can/will provide for us, but I am hopeful.

They mentioned how this is a life-long disability, and how he'll have a hard time in school due to it (academically speaking he'll struggle with concepts, especially since most are verbal, like math and reading) but he has other gifts (he is good with fine motor and loves to draw) and they gave us some tips. His "executive functioning" was below average. That made me sad.

 The Developmental Pediatrician said that we will probably never know why he is the way he is, but it looks like we have had every test or procedure done and we have done a good job. The Social Worker (who turned out to be not as helpful as we were hoping or expecting) said that it is probably something passed down in our families (we both had fathers with speech delayment as young boys); she may be correct. They did rule out it being from the True Knot in his cord discovered after his birth, since he doesn't have severe developmental issues. (it was good to put that at rest in my mind) But despite those comments, we have not cancelled our appointments with Genetics!

These titles should be able to get him the help in school that he needs. This means that we'll get to join the many who have an IEP for their child --something that I hadn't thought of before. I'm not too sure when that'll happen or what it really means, but I am apprehensive as I've heard so many discouraging stories of parents being in tears or frustrated at the IEP meetings since their child's needs aren't really being met. I'm nervous about that. But I'm trying not to think too far ahead.

Another title mentioned was Complex Developmental Behavioral Condition (CDBC), which is baffling me. There is very little information about it online. A lot of clinical pages, or ones on getting referred to have it diagnosed, but I'd like personal stuff, like blogs and pages on people it really effects. (which is one of the main reasons why I blog about Rhys'  issues... I know that he isn't the only one out there, and maybe someone else will read this and find comfort and support. Hang in there, Stranger! *fist bump*)  The other confusing part is how it was presented to us. They mentioned it briefly during the conference, so I was hoping more would be said in the full report. Instead it was added as an extra, saying that the school "may wish to identify R as having CDBC according to the Ministry of Education.....and recommend additional support in the classroom under this diagnosis."

What does that mean???

I'm not too sure what to do with this information. Does he have CDBC or not? Is it a diagnosis or isn't it? Don't the Specialists need to diagnose it not the school? Maybe it will help the school in receiving funding for his care and support, but what does it mean for Rhys? Isn't this name a bit more important than all of his learning disabilities? After all, that is an actual name...something that makes sense. It sounds impressive. It says something's going on. It has a label that I can explain to others.  Yet it also doesn't explain much at all.

After waiting for a good two years for this assessment, I'm finding it not as bomb-shell-useful as I'd hoped. I wanted answers, ...and I got some. But I also got more questions! This isn't really the end, but more of a beginning.

I think I'm going to have to meet with our own pediatrician for more answers. But for now this is a start. A partial diagnosis.  I'm happy that along with the really long full report, the specialists at least gave some recommendations for us, which appear to be very helpful. (They also included an extra report for us to give to the school.)

I remember being told by many friends that doing an assessment or having a label or diagnosis won't change Rhys. They seemed to say it to deter us from searching for something that may not matter. And they were right.

These names don't change him. But they help him. And that's a good thing.


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