What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Fringe Dwellers we are

He's a tricky customer, that Beaver boy. We recently took him for a psychometric assessment a couple of weeks ago. You know, kind of an IQ test. We're not so much interested in his IQ as trying to find out how the boy thinks and learns. He're really been struggling the last few months ( he's very dissapointed in his own slow learning, and his teacher is trying to find new ways to help him learn).

I have to say, these test are hard for the parents! Of course, Beaver did not want me to leave the room, so I sat through the whole thing. Beaver loved every minute of it – it's his dream come true. Doing work with an adult giving him on eon one attention! He did well, got though the whole thing without getting fed up, and kept his cheerful self up throughout. Of course he got tired towards the end, and of course he did not too well on the test scores. We're still in the "borderline to mild" intellectual disability side of the graph. But compared to the last test he did he seems to have jumped up a couple of IQ points.

The biggest surprise was that for some tests he was actually pretty bang on normal. Where he seems to struggle most is to integrate the different parts of his knowledge and thinking. He knows things but cannot easily connect two related things from different knowledge areas, especially with regards to more abstract thinking. Like, he can tell you about birds – and for example, the difference between native birds and introduced pest - and butterflies, but when asked where birds and butterflies are alike, he can't deduct that both fly. The testing psychologist felt this was more a neurological issue than a straight IQ issue s – he kept talking in terms of finding what "switches" Beavers' brain connections on and then the rest will click into place.

The psychologist compared Beaver to someone who's having a vision test and can not roll his eyeballs or shoulders, or turn his head or neck. It's found the patient has perfect eyesight (Beaver's "vertical" logical thinking is fine) but no peripheral vision (the "horizontal" thinking that compares and integrates facts). It might be a difficulty in using both sides of his brain and pulling information across from the right side to the left side, which is why he suggested we might try some kinesiology.

One thing that has come up again and again is that Beaver has retained almost all of his primitive reflexes. There is some chiropractic work that can be done on this and we have started on that track. I have also booked an appointment with a kinesiologist who works on learning difficulties and other neurological things and has done some work with primitive reflexes. It is very interesting to note that Beaver's Moro reflex has got markedly smaller since our chiropractor worked on it, and at the same time, Beaver's reading has taken another jump…

But basically the psychologist said Beaver does not fit in any clear label or tick box. And there is some suggestion that his learning difficulties may have nothing to do with his physical disability but might be just plain bad luck. There may well be something out there that helps him, but he's not a clear case, and according to the psychologist, it may well be that traditional therapies don't help Beaver much. He told us we might have to go and look in strange and unusual places, check out 'the fringe' as he called it and try out some things.

Isn't' it lucky that we feel quite comfortable in the fringe?


Dianne said...

Big nods and waves from fellow fringe dwellers.

As difficult as it is getting these tests done, I think it's great that the pyschologist you saw was open to alternative avenues.

We have dabbled in kinesiology with limited success but it's something I've always thought we'll go back to have another look at when BC gets a little older. A lot of it makes a lot of sense.

We are also total advocates of chiropractic care. My boys go once every few months and I have total confidence in the benefits. Osteopathy is another path we follow. And our next plan is to travel down the feldenkrais path.

I know not everything's an answer, but it's good to know that there are lots of different paths to explore on the fringe.

Katie said...

I've always got weird results on IQ test.

When measured in isolation, my verbal and linguistic abilities disappear of the high end of the scale, which is nothing but luck.

My spatial and perceptual abilities are beyond dire. When I was a teenager I was given a shape-drawing test and was reduced to tears, they stopped after an hour because it was going nowhere and I was so distressed; I don't get distressed easily. I later learnt an eight year old would take fifteen minutes to complete the task.

Spatial / perceptual problems are common in CPers, the current theory is it's to do with brain damage in a very specific deep area of the brain. I met a neurologist by chance through work - in my day job, I'm a journalist - and this turned out to be a specialism of his so we discussed it at length after the interview!

Everyone's current favourite theory about me is that I am more severely disabled than I appear but I can compensate for elements of my impairment because I am otherwise very clever, so you have to know what you're looking for before you notice the deficiences I have.

It was sort of useful to know while I was at school because it explained why I was unexpectedly hopeless at some areas of maths and science, though it didn't stop that being frustrating. As soon as I got old enough to pick the subjects I wanted to study it stopped mattering because I just dropped everything I couldn't do, which was bliss.

Since then I've avoided having any further assessments done because - although I'm sure it's fascinating for the neuros! - I've got more important things to do with my life!