“Should we get her tested for autism?” I anxiously asked the occupational therapist. I had been pondering it for months. Does my daughter have autism? Doesn’t she? What explains her behaviors? Or thinking? Or who she is?
KBear’s OT answered like a seasoned therapist. She answered my question with a question. “What would be your goal in getting the assessments done?”
A simple question, but I struggled to answer it. It’s true. There are some behaviors that fit, and some behaviors that don’t. How would it help to know one way or the other? How would it change how we respond and what we’d been doing?
We opted not to have a full on assessment for our KBear at that time, but that thoughtful question has guided our decisions. What’s the goal?
My 13 year old has not been officially tested, and yet, I confidently label him gifted. He fits. Others see it. We see it. I’ve thought about testing him, but then I go back to the question . . . what’s the goal? How would it help? How would it change things? And in truth, with him, it wouldn’t. He’s homeschooled and doesn’t need evaluation to be greenlighted into a GATE program. Within the neurodiversity of his giftedness, he’s pretty typical. There’s a few glitches here and there, but nothing that’s interfering with his functioning too significantly.
KBear, our now 10 year old, has been tested, at her public school, by a neuropsych, and is about to be tested again by a different neuropsych. Why? Why didn’t we do it back when she was 7 and we are doing it now? Because we have a concrete goal. Her behaviors have changed and intensified in certain ways. Medications are now part of the treatment plan. We need to know more details about what, specifically, we’re treating. We’d reached a point that we needed to ascertain if we’d been missing something. Her meltdowns were affecting her more intensely and were interfering more intensely with our whole family’s functioning. We needed to make sure we were on the right track.
And why the re-evaluation only a year later by a different provider? Because the first one didn’t come to the right conclusions. The diagnosis simply didn’t fit. We didn’t get the answers we needed. We weren’t able to improve her treatment plan.
Our 6-year-old. Not tested. Probably won’t be tested. He’s creative and compassionate, emotionally intense, psychomotorly intense, intellectually intense, verbally precocious, and the list goes on. He fits the bill. It isn’t interfering with his functioning. No reason to evaluate. The goal would simply be to satisfy my own curiosity, which, for me, is an insufficient reason to subject my kiddos to day long testing.
If you’re considering testing, start by being able to have a clear and precise answer to the question. What’s the goal? How will it make a difference?
After testing, trust your instincts. You know your kid better than someone who’s met with them for six hours and administered standardized tests. Take the information. Research the diagnoses. Decide whether it fits. If not, determine if the goal of obtaining accurate neuropsych testing continues to exist, and find someone new. Get a second opinion.
The truth is, there isn’t a right or a wrong to the testing question. It isn’t clearcut. So, trust yourself. Listen to your gut. And be able to answer the question.
This post is just one small piece in the midst of phenomenal wisdom from other writers about gifted and 2e issues. Check out more about testing at GHF’s monthly bloghop!