It’s been interesting and stressful to watch my 4.5 year old be put through a pretty intense testing process for her evaluation for selective mutism.
We had the initial consultation a month ago to find out if further testing was necessary. Then 5 testing sessions later, she is done with the hard part. From what I understand, it’s a little out of the ordinary for me to be in the room while the testing is going on, but I think because of her anxiety levels and her age, they allowed me to be in the room.
She performed really well for the non-verbal parts (well, some of them, she wouldn’t do the hand imitations – things like “thumbs up” and the “okay” sign), frequently hitting the ceiling for the tests and testing above her age level. But for the verbal parts, she normally stumbled. She had three different testers, and each one got the silent treatment for a long while (at least 45 minutes if not the entire session), and if she was able to have that breakthrough moment (usually if they got her laughing, she couldn’t help but start speaking and that seemed to do the trick), she would do fine speaking. It’s as if my daughter accepted the person “into the fold” so to speak of people she could talk to.
But this last time, we didn’t get a chance to have that breakthrough moment. And it showed. She wouldn’t respond to the verbal portions of the test (a NEPSY test). I was a little upset that the tester didn’t even try to get her to open up, and I said as much. But she did say that she didn’t want to have to do special tricks here, because it really was better that the test reflected that she was unable to test rather than her getting a zero on those parts of the test. This way, if she fails to perform in other settings, there was consistency with their report as well. She said though the areas she didn’t test in wouldn’t be counted in the overall score. That each subtest can stand alone, and valuable information can be gotten from those tests, but the overall score would be less if those other were included as zeros.
So I’m glad I spoke up even if I was misunderstanding things at first. I asked her if she could write down somewhere that she’s not responding because she’s anxious, and not because she doesn’t want to. Fortunately, this Dr. has worked with a selectively mute child before, so she knows this. But, it was still good to talk about it and understand before I left what it meant that not only was it okay that my daughter didn’t participate on those verbal tests, but that it was better that it came out rather than to coax it out of her.
Basically, I had to relax and realize that this testing wasn’t going to show my daughter was mentally deficient, and actually the parts she did participate in actually shows she has a really advanced mind (something we already knew anyway, but it’s great to get firm “proof” of it).
We go for the final review next week. I know they have lots of good things to say about my daughter, and hopefully they will have some good recommendations for how to help her.
Fortunately, we have a year and a few months to figure out a game plan before she ever steps foot in Kindergarten, and hopefully by then we won’t have to worry about IEPs or 504 plans or anything. But, it may come down to that, and I have to prepare myself for the possibility that could happen. I only hope that the schools will be willing to work with me and that I don’t have to battle the system, like I hear so many other families of children with learning disabilities have had to at one point or another.
I’m just so glad that it’s over, and my daughter participated at all. I was worried she wouldn’t do anything at all.