Monday, November 07, 2005

The Big Day

Well, today's the big day. The day we just might finally get answers. (Actually, we won't get answers today...we'll get questions. But those questions will lead to the answers.)

My six-year-old son has struggled with certain aspects of learning language for years. We noticed it at three. He's since undergone hearing tests, vision tests, auditory tests, academic tests, and probably a few I'm forgetting. All have come back normal. But there's something not right. We know it. His Sunday School teachers know it.

You give him a simple instruction, such as, "Go put these clothes in the white dresser drawer," and he'll take the clothes on put them on the white book case. He also has struggled with just identifying his alphabet letters, despite having no trouble with math. At the same time, he is highly creative and quite intelligent.

So, what's the problem? According to all of the testing so far...nothing. And, in fact, were we not homeschooling him, he would very likely have been diagnosed with ADD, put on medication, and thrown into a special education program that never actually addresses the problem.

He doesn't have ADD, by the way. In fact, after a lot of research, my wife finally tracked down what we believe it is. And, in fact, it is what an experienced educator of 35 years has said, as well as a psychologist has suggested. So, it call comes down to today.

As I type this, my son is undergoing yet another series of tests...but this time, with the person who has the expertise to diagnose him properly. It gives us hope that we'll finally have answers, and then finally have a plan to help him overcome it. Hopefully, in a week or so, I'll be able to tell you all that he has Central Auditory Processing Disorder...a problem that is frequently misdiagnosed as ADD, which results in the completely wrong treatment.

This whole experience just reaffirms how important it is for parents to be advocates for your own child. We've been told over and over that he is fine. But we have known better. If the medical doctors and teachers don't know how to label the problem, it doesn't exist. But had we accepted that, I'm afraid for what would become of my son. Frustrated, perhaps depressed, with a poor self-esteem.

As it is he doesn't like to try new things because he's afraid of failure. He sees the success of his older brother, who by the same age, had no difficulty reading. He struggles with playing games he doesn't know because he doesn't understand how to play them...though, once he learns how, he typically excels.

I'm reminded of a quote that Dr. Phil makes on his show. You can't fix a problem until you're willing to address it. And the only ones who are willing to address my son's problem are my wife and myself.


Kate said...

The doctor who originally started the business that grew into the corporation I work for (one of the most intelligent, most forward-thinking men I know) loved the internet for just this reason: patients and their advocates can do their own research. It's very tough for a doctor to diagnose certain diseases and problems (especially when the brain is involved). There are just too many possibilities, and often something that seemed too inconsequential to the patient to mention is actually something that would be crucial for the doctor to know.
On the other hand, a patient (or parent) researching on their own can find things that match all the symptoms, even the ones they didn't think of at the doctor's office. And never discount the power of just knowing when something "feels" like the right thing. This doctor I worked for loved the empowerment it gave the patients, to be able to come to the doctor with a list of things to be ruled out. I'm not sure all doctors appreciate this (I did say he was forward-thinking!), and I'm sure it was very time consuming for you. I'm cynical enough to say your health care provider probably wouldn't consider it "cost effective" to do all that searching when they would have been happy with the ADD label.
I hope this works out well for your son. It's a blessing you are homeschooling him; you already know his teacher is going to be very understanding of this whole process!

RyanBruner said...

Well, as a follow up...the first half of the testing was completed, and already they know my son as something caused "crossed dominance", which can be quite problematic is learning...but there is treatment for that. There is still another couple hours of testing on Friday before we find out the official word on any processing disorder.

Kate said...

Hours of testing over multiple days sounds really stressful for a six-year-old. I hope he's holding up OK. I suppose the people administering the tests are used to dealing with children and are good at putting them at ease (I hope!). Best wishes for Friday's testing. Tell your son he's in my thoughts.