Monday, June 27, 2011

A Diagnosis

We met with the specialist last Thursday with M to get the results of her testing.  We were all anxious.  M was especially scared.  She thought she was going to finally be told she was stupid.  A feeling she's had for a very long time.  Instead....

...we found out that M is a very bright girl.  Something we've always thought.  Nobody could have such a quick, funny sense of humor and be of below intelligence.  Turns out, M's above average in all four areas of IQ that were tested.  Strangely, also, they were all relatively even, which the doctor said is pretty rare. 

What we did find out, though, was that M has a pretty pronounced learning disability in math.  From doing homework with her, I was relieved to see that I wasn't crazy in my belief that she really didn't "get math."  She is going to get special accommodations at school and extra help.  Yeah!  The doctor was also really good at explaining it to M so she understood what it meant and that it did not mean she was stupid.

Now for the tricky part.  The doctor was on the fence about the ADHD.  She wanted to talk more with us about what might be going on.  Everybody, including M, marked her in the range for an attention issue.  All the adults, however, also highlighted anxiety, emotional issues.  It's hard to know what is causing the attention issues.  We just don't have the history with M and have only parented traumatized M.  We only have a few anecdotal data points from friends of the family and things I remember.  The TOVA test, a computer-based assessment, definitely had her in the ADHD range.  So after a lengthy discussion with us and M, the doctor decided to give her an ADHD not other specified (NOS) diagnosis.  From her perspective, it doesn't really matter why M is inattentive, the help she'll get at school will be the same.  She also recommended we try medication to help with her attention.

I'm relieved.  M looked absolutely relieved.  She knows she's been struggling.  She's been dealing with this her whole life.  I don't think this is something that resulted from her parents death.  If anything, the accident has just highlighted the issues that would have probably been ignored.  Who knows what would have happened to M?  I can only try to help her now and that means doing what the experts recommend, doing research and going with my gut. 

My sisters S and C did not have the same reaction.  S questioned the diagnosis.  Questioned whether or not our school can handle her issues.  She made statements like, "maybe she just had a really bad math teacher in 2nd grade."  She pronounced on it, because she's a teacher and has a degree in special ed.  It was like she was questioning my ability or judgement to raise M and do what's best for her.  Coming from S, it was annoying, infuriating and downright crappy.  Oh, and she asked what I was going to do about the boys, so they won't "tease her."  My sweet boys, who deal with M and her grades and frustrations everyday (especially my tenderhearted A)  would never tease M.  Now, her sister is another story, but my mommy bristles came up hearing her assume my boys were going to make M feel bad.

C declared, "that is so sad...poor M."  Huh?  Sad?  Yes, M is going to have some more challenges academically, but she's been dealing with this for a long time.  She is finally going to get help.  She was told how bright and smart she is.  She was told she isn't stupid.  Her brain just isn't wired the same as other people.  We can do things to help her.  Medication isn't the end of the world.  C caught herself at one point, but not before she brought up horror stories of kids on medication.  We haven't even been to her pediatrician yet, and our judgement is being questioned.  Frankly, it sucked.

All I know is we are going to do what we think is best for M.  We stood up for her.  My sisters didn't. We are her family and all of us, including the boys, are going to help M.  I didn't think of this as a step backwards, but a step in the right direction.


  1. Hooray! I'm SO happy you all have a clear diagnosis! I taught second grade collaborative SpEd for 7 years and truly believe it is important to get children any and all help they can get. I have NO idea where S is coming from, I really don't. I don't understand how a SpEd teacher could have that reaction. It makes me sad, actually.

    And, C's reaction also makes me sad. How can they not be supportive of this poor child? She is completely relieved to learn she is one smart cookie who just needs a bit of help when it comes to math. That had to feel good, you know?

    May I recommend a book? I had training about 9 (holy smokes! Has it been that long ago?!?) years ago from Dr. Mel Levine. He has a clinic in NC where he helps parents identify their children's needs. The book is "One Mind at a Time". It's old at this point (how is this possible I ask), but I found it wonderful and extremely helpful.

    And, Dr. Mel was such an approachable, sweet man. He only wants the best for children and I can definitely get behind that. :o)

    I'm overjoyed for M, as she will now get the help she needs, and she knows she's not a dummy. How wonderful for her! :o)

  2. That's great that M will get the help she needs! What a relief to have a real course of action to address her issues instead of floundering around and getting more frustrated.