Pre-Screening Evaluation

Today I took Ben to the Chicago Public School’s free developmental screening. The councilor at the school he will be going to, the one Jack currently attends, suggested this. It is the first step in admitting Ben is not developing like a normal kid and he needs extra help or he won’t make it.

I duly drove out to one of the testing sites provided by the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services. I noticed none of them were conveniently located anywhere near our house. I drove about 40 minutes to this one.

On the way over I noticed how just different a mere three highway stops can be in Chicago.

Gone were the boutique shops and brand name luxury shops. I noticed there wasn’t a single woman jogging in her Lululemon pants. In fact, no one was exercising on this beautiful, sunny day. I saw a few cyclists, but none of them were wearing the padded butt pants that are common on my street. Mostly I passed auto repair, fast food, and check cashing places.

When we got to the site every evaluator was taken so we waited our turn. While I was waiting I heard the guy in front of me tell the evaluator that when his daughter was young, their mother used to put them in front of the TV and let them watch all day. He said, “We had a VCR with about 5 different movies, Home Alone, and some others, and they watched them over and over again.”

Two other kids had massive tantrums and I was pleased that Ben, for once, did not. He seemed very eager to do the test and willing to participate.

The woman who signed in after me presented the receptionist with a letter from DCFS.

After seeing the other kids I wondered if in fact I was ‘one of them’. Most days I find Ben a handful, but because I also have three other kids displaying their own weirdness, I just kind of look at him as normal but with a few more hang ups.

Well, that theory gets thrown out of the water when you watch him in a testing situation. Taking Ben to the park daily and giving him an enriched lifestyle with healthy food made me no different than anyone else in here.

Ben failed the block stacking test, he failed to draw almost all the shapes, he could not answer even the questions he KNEW the answers to without extra prompting. He couldn’t balance on one leg. And when he did answer something right, he was so proud he would continue to answer it right even though Ms Patty was asking him the next question.

In the end ALL FOUR of the areas they test for developmental delays were checked off: Cognitive/Academic Skills, Communication Skills, Motor Skills, and Social-Emotional Skills.

What does it mean?

It means that we now have the go ahead to get Ben screened for an IEP. An IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is a special document that may get him anything from an aide to getting extra time on tests. It is completely individual to the student. At the next meeting not only will they test him in more detail, but they will come up with a plan right there and then.

She warned me part of the plan may be to put him in a special school. We don’t have to do this but she put it out there which I’m grateful for. I’d hate for that to be sprung on me.

It’s hard enough admitting to myself he’s not developing like a normal kid.

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