On Wednesday P had an evaluation to see if he needed occupational therapy. I had been somewhat afraid that I would be told that his problems were nothing, and that we should never have requested a referral. Instead, when I told the OT that P had been assessed for occupational therapy through his school system, she said, "He didn't qualify, did he? Yeah, he'll qualify with me." Which on one hand, was nice because he'll get help, but on the other hand I thought, Jeez, he must really be lacking in skills if she's so confident that he needs this.
Yeah, he was lacking.
His core muscles are weak. His joints are weak and floppy. He can't coordinate moving his limbs together, like doing jumping jacks or using both hands to put pennies in a bowl. He has a primitive neck reflex that keeps him from moving his head without turning his body (I've noticed before that he sometimes gives me a certain look out of the corner of his eye when he asks a question - I thought it was a cute mannerism, but it turns out that he just can't move his head). His vestibular system is jacked up, which is maybe why he gets so carsick. His pencil grip is wrong. He seeks sensory input. The whole time I kept thinking, How did I not notice this? How did I not realize he was so far behind?
The nice thing, though, is that she seems to feel confident about his prognosis. She has a plan of attack and she'll give us things to do at home. I feel like we'll see results.
The other interesting thing was that she either picked up very quickly that he was gifted, or she read his chart. Either way, about ten minutes into the evaluation she started talking about very bright kids and the frustration they can experience when motor delays affect their ability to write or do projects. She talked about how bright he was, asked if we were considering enrolling in the local gifted magnet school, and discussed the more academically-centered high schools. When I mentioned that the school seemed to have some difficulty understanding the difference between his physical difficulty with writing and a lack of cognitive ability to write, she rolled her eyes and said that one absolutely did not equate with the other. At the end of the evaluation she said that it would be fun to work with him, and that he was a "great kid."
One one hand it's great that he has an OT that gets him. On the other hand, the people that think that he's gifted but quirky include the team that evaluated him last spring (a psychologist, a special ed teacher, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a special ed supervisor, and a social worker), two gifted & talented teachers, a psychologist who reviewed P's records when we were considering a 504 earlier this fall, and now a clinical OT. They all see his strengths and weaknesses as pieces of a larger pattern, a profile of gifted asynchrony that includes both skills to work on and talents to nurture. The deficits don't erase the gifts, and the gifts are awesome.
And yet, his teacher just sees a kid who's basically behind but managed to ace an IQ test. His principal just sees an undiagnosed autistic kid with a mom in denial. I don't know how they can be so entrenched in their opinion in the face of so many dissenting opinions.
Maybe after OT beings to help with the deficits they'll see more of his abilities. I doubt it, but one can hope.