Putting Diagnosis to the Test
I hate diagnostic testing. The first time I submitted Cameron to a battery of diagnostic testing, he was 4 years old. I remember looking at the vast differences between the “average” scores of an “average” child and the very “below average” results Cameron scored. With every round of subsequent testing, I would desperately look for signs of Cameron gaining on the “average” child. Those gains on the average were seldom found. I remember feeling like Cameron’s test results were a reflection of my parenting skills. If Cameron wasn’t making gains towards becoming average, surely it must be the result of something I didn’t do. There must be some intervention I didn’t insist upon. Maybe I didn’t pay close enough attention to the implementation of those teaching recommendations at the back of the report.
Somewhere along the way, I lost interest in the testing reports all together. The school system did the necessary testing at the required intervals to verify eligibility for services. As long as the school system had what they needed, and Cameron received the services he needed, I was happy. In 2010, the testing report was particularly bracing. This was the first report in which the word “autism” was used in the diagnosis section of the report. Also bracing was the fact that Cameron’s full scale IQ was reported as being 68. This was a new low compared to all previous testing. But I knew that Cameron was capable of more than his standardized scores might suggest. I also knew that the report wasn’t of the highest quality. Let’s just say, the language of the report led me to believe that the diagnostician was not terribly experienced.
Now that Cameron is applying to postsecondary programs, getting updated testing was required. And finally, finally, I am seeing the gains I had given up hopes of seeing years ago. In the testing Cameron completed this past December, his full scale IQ was reported to be 100. That’s within “average” range! But what’s even more uplifting is that the narrative of the report seemed to accurately reflect Cameron’s nature. I’ve never read a report that seemed to be about my son. All the previous reports I read with a certain level of detachment because they just didn’t seem to reflect the little person that shared my life. It took the better part of two decades for me to see my son in a report about him. While it felt good to read a professional narrative that reflected what I already knew about my son, it didn’t change a thing about Cameron. And yet, when I received the 15-page report, I found myself hungrily flipping the pages to get to the test results, so I could see how Cameron compared to average. (I also wanted to see if the dismal results from 2010 were an accurate reflection of Cameron’s capabilities.) I still hate diagnostic testing. But I must admit, it does feel good to finally like what I read.