School Evaluation Results

Why does something always have to come around to kick me when I’m down? I just received Javan’s evaluation results from the school. I feel like burning them. They burned me. It’s only fair.

The results seem to indicate repeatedly throughout that Javan’s limitations may be due to, well…me. Throughout the 29 pages, his poor evaluation results are countered with something along the lines of, “It could be a true impairment, or it could be the result of being raised in a cave, by incompetent parents, with no access to the outside world. We will see in time, as the feral wildman has his first opportunities to enter normal society.” A sarcastic paraphrase of course. Here is an actual quote pertaining to language skills.

“It is important to note that Javan has lived several years in a home environment with limited access to structure, same aged peers, and reinforcement of appropriate behaviors. He has not been enrolled in school where he would have had the opportunity to acquire appropriate social skills from his teachers and/or peers. Therefore, it is impossible to determine if his differences in pragmatic abilities root from his lack of exposure in this area or an intrinsic impairment. Until Javan has an opportunity to learn social appropriateness in a structured environment, it cannot be determined that there is true pragmatic impairment.”

Similar statements are made concerning emotional and behavioral findings.

Me raise caveman.

Now that I’ve described my butt hurt, I’ll move on to recapping the actual results for you. As is stated in the document, “Due to the severity of Javan’s behavior, scores should be interpreted with caution.” Basically, he wasn’t very cooperative with testing, so the results may be skewed. Results were compiled using six categories: language, physical, sociological, emotional/ behavioral, cognitive/intellectual, and adaptive behavior. The basic gist is that he’s delayed in all areas. If you’d like to know details of his delays, strengths, and weaknesses, please read through each category below. If you aren’t a details person or are short on time, feel free to skip the bolded categories altogether as I’ll summarize at the end.

Language: Communication is delayed, with an average age equivalent of a five year old (he’s nine). Testing found that Javan showed average receptive and expressive language proficiency. Language, articulation, and voice fluency are all within the normal range. Pragmatic skills like interpreting social cues and expressing emotions appropriately are significantly below the normal range. Conclude with above-mentioned caveman clause, which is the reason they give why he doesn’t qualify for speech and language services.

Physical: Physical skills are delayed, with an average age equivalent of a four year old. Observations were that fine and gross motor skills were within the normal range. The reason the score is so low is because sensory processing is lumped in this category as well, and in that area he demonstrates significant delays. The sensory test included seven categories. In social participation, results state that he needs help to play with peers, but interacts appropriately with adults. In the vision category, it states that he is bothered by bright lighting. For hearing, he is bothered by ordinary sounds and responds negatively to loud noises. In the touch category, it was noted that he enjoys sensations that should be painful (like crashing to the floor or hitting himself), is distressed by certain types of clothing, and avoids touching messy things. In body awareness, it’s noted that he is constantly seeking pushing, pulling, dragging, lifting, and jumping activities and that he frequently asserts too much pressure for tasks such as slamming doors and petting animals roughly. In balance and motion, they noticed that he’s fearful of movement like going up and down stairs and using swings, he fails to catch himself when falling, he shows poor motor coordination, and appears clumsy. In planning and ideas, the report states that he performs inconsistently on daily tasks and tends to play the same activities over and over. For these sensory issues, they recommend occupational therapy consult services for 15 minutes once every two weeks. That means he won’t actually receive any occupational therapy, which surprises and disappoints me. His teachers will get ideas from an occupational therapist on a bi-monthly basis for sensory strategies to use in the classroom. Strategies outlined in the report includes visual schedules and checklists, using fidgets, sensory breaks, social stories, deep pressure activities, movement opportunities, headphones, and pastel paper for writing.

Sociological: No surprises here. He has disruptive behavior and emotional issues. Due to behavior, he hasn’t been exposed to grade level curriculum. He is performing at an academic level well below average.

Emotional/Behavioral: These results are the hardest to summarize because there is just so much information, but I’ll do my best.

The behavior assessment includes three categories (clinical, adaptive, and composite), and each category has several subcategories. His clinical scales results note that Javan has severe difficulties (within the clinical range) in the following areas: atypicality  (odd behaviors), social withdrawal, aggression, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and anxiety. His scores in the following subcategories were not quite as elevated and fell just under the clinical range, but still above average in difficulty: attention problems and somatization (sensitivity to minor physical discomfort). His adaptive scales results showed that the following were severe difficulties within the clinical range: daily living activities, adaptability, and social skills. His scores in the following subcategories were not quite as elevated and fell under the clinical range, but still above average in difficulty: leadership and functional communication. The third behavioral category, composite scores, showed the following categories were highly elevated and within the clinical range: behavioral symptoms, externalizing problems, internalizing problems, and adaptive skills.

Javan’s self-report that measures depression symptoms in children was also elevated, indicating that he is depressed. They noted that he has a blunt affect and mood and a generally negative, self-centered view.

Surprisingly, his anxiety testing shows that anxiety is no more problematic for him than for other students. If this is true, then the average student deals with far too much anxiety. He was said to display anxiety in academic or social situations, in unfamiliar environments, or when his idea of fact is challenged.

His autism ratings are the most difficult to interpret, as I am given numbers but no range with which to compare them. From what I can find online, scoring a 7 or higher on any given subscale indicates a very high likelihood of autism. He scored 7 or higher on each of the 7 subscales, with cognitive style and emotional responses taking the lead with suoer high scores of 15 and 14. His overall autism index is 1o5. I don’t really know what that means, as I can find nothing to compare it to. The document states that he had a Very Likely Probability of an autism spectrum disorder with a severity level of Level 3. Again, I had to rely on the Internet to determine the meaning of that. Apparently, there are three classifications for autism probability: Very Likely (Javan’s result), Possibly, and Unlikely. According to the Autism Speaks website, there are also three severity levels, with level 1 requiring the least support and level 3 (Javan’s level) requiring the most support. A different autism assessment placed his level of autism-related symptom at moderate.

Social/Emotional: Javan is delayed in this area, with an average age equivalent of a three year old. This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Cognitive/Intellectual: Javan is cognitively delayed, with an average age equivalent of a five year old. The cognitive testing contains ten subtests, but he was only able to complete one due to behavior. He completed the oral vocabulary subtests and scored within the low average range. A separate cognitive test showed that he is superior in verbal, average in performance and general language, and low average in processing speed. This test showed that his general cognitive ability is within the average range. Can we go back to that superior score for a minute? A strength! Javan’s verbal abilities exceed 92% of his peers! I know gloating is unbecoming, but I’m gonna gloat anyway. Gloat, gloat, gloatty gloat gloat!

Put his verbal abilities up against his much lower nonverbal reasoning skills and receptive language skills though, and you get an interesting picture. Add in his low processing speed and low short-term memory and some things start to make better sense. Im short, he speaks like a child much older than nine years, but he listens like a child much younger than his years. This produces frustrations when adults  (myself included) speak to him as he speaks to us and we expect him to understand at this higher level. I need to remind myself that no matter how old he sounds, he hears like a five year old and I must speak as though to a younger child.

Adaptive Behavior: Javan is delayed in this area, with an average age equivalent of a four year old. This means he’s delayed with things like eating, dressing, independent functioning, and utilizing technology.

Finally, on to the summary and conclusions! If you skipped the bolded categories, this is a good place to start up again. Javan scored as a typical 3-5 year old in all aeas of development. The evaluations found that Javan meets the criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. He cannot at this time progress in the general education curriculum or achieve mastery of state objectives. He requires support not available in a general education setting and requires specifically designed instruction only available through the special education program. He does NOT meet the requirements for an Emotional Disturbance, as symptoms of his autism could be the main contributers of his behavior problems. Recommended academic accommodations include oral testing, extra time in assignments, shortened assignments, repeated review, frequent breaks, the use of visual cues, and more. Recommended behavioral accommodations include positively stated directives, use of tangible rewards, peer separation, sensory breaks, and more.

Tomorrow, I plan to outline for you several specific academic and behavioral goals the school team has put together for Javan to work on over the next year. The driver and teacher’s aide will also be visiting our home in the morning just to meet Javan since they can become familiar with each other. I really hope he can show them his sweet side at least a little. I’ve been preparing him for meeting them for over a week, but he’s still pretty freaked out. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Post scriptum: I shared my butt hurt feelings with my best girlfriends tonight on our weekly night out, and while they were uber supportive and could see why I felt judged by certain statements in the report, they felt like that was not actually the case. The case is, the school team doesn’t know whether to attribute Javan’s results to nature or nurture because they haven’t been around to see the nurturing, not because they believe the nurturing to be inadequate. I’m defensive and sensitive and I’m afraid of my own inadequacies as I see them, so I unintentionally and incorrectly read clinical observations and facts as judgments of me as a teacher and parent. I left my original statements at the beginning of this post, instead of deleting them once I realized they were wrong, because I feel like they show my thought processes and inner emotional struggle with more honesty than I’d show by deleting them. And honesty is the whole point.

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