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Opening Old Wounds

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There comes a point when you’ve made peace with your child’s diagnosis.  You’ve got supports and therapy in place that work for you and your child.  You’ve had the IEP meetings, and assured that your child is getting the help they need academically.  The routine is in place, and things are moving along fairly well, and you’re feeling…in control.

And then…

Report cards or test results come home from school, as they did here, yesterday.

Last month they administered Cognitive Ability testing to the 2nd graders.  Reading the results, it was like being kicked in the gut.  My throat closed up and I fought back tears.  My mind moved toward an imaginary future, with scenarios of what my son’s life might be like, based on my own fear.  Horrible thoughts of what might become of my son someday, when I’m gone, assaulted me.  It felt like all the hard work we’d done just wasn’t enough.

Luckily, I’ve got a very supportive online group that I can go to when I hit a bump in the road.  They reminded me of some very important things, and I want to be sure to pass on this wisdom to you, should you find yourself in a similar dark place.

photo courtesy of PBS kids

photo courtesy of PBS kids

1.  Your child-MY child, is exactly the same person as they were before you received feedback about their level of functioning.  They have not changed in those few moments.

2.  Our children don’t always test well.  Reading comprehension is often a challenge for our kiddos on the spectrum.  The stress that accompanies taking a test can also inhibit their performance.

3.  Whatever the test or assessment, is does not DEFINE your child.  Our children define themselves, and we are there to support them.

4.  Academic tests are not created for children that learn differently.  They’re created for the “typical” child.  Think of giving an english-speaking child a test written in Spanish.  They’ve been set up to fail because the test isn’t in their language, just like most academic tests are not in our autistic children’s “language.”

5.  If you don’t have a support system, find one.  There are many online communities for special needs parents.  But it’s imperative that you have people you can talk to that understand the situation, and can offer words of support and encouragement.

6.  Remember that you don’t control the future, you can only control what you do right now.  Letting your imagination take you down dark alleys will only lead to anxiety and depression.  And it won’t help your child.

7.  Use assessments and test results to your child’s advantage.  I plan to have the results at our upcoming IEP meeting, so I can specifically ask how they will address his learning style to tackle areas where he struggles.  And we will talk about whether he needs to be in a smaller classroom setting, getting more individualized attention.  Turn test results into tools for gaining more support for your child.

8.  Allow yourself some time to feel down.  It’s normal and it’s okay to have those feelings.  But don’t allow yourself to wallow there, because you’ve got to be ready to pick up and move on, to secure whatever support your child needs.

9.  Accept.  Accept that your child may lag behind, or not excel in certain areas.  Get the support your child needs, but remember not to push too hard, or have unreasonable expectations.

10.  Love them.  No matter what the future holds, no matter how well they’re doing in school, or how poorly, they are still your child.  Don’t be robbed of the precious moments you have right now, by worrying about a future you can’t control.


It’s so easy to let things like this open up old worries, old hurts.  The important thing is that we keep moving past that, and remember that our children are learning and growing every day, no matter what a test or assessment says.  We will be there with them as they continue to grow, and we will hold their hand and meet the future with courage and bravery.


About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

11 responses »

  1. All wonderful advice that even the most seasoned and experienced parent can forget in the moment because we only want the best for our children.

  2. Yep, wonderful advice. Hugs x

  3. Awesome list. I think #5 is probably, for me, the most important one. Without my circle of friends (both in real life and virtual) that I can lean on I would be pretty useless.

  4. ((Hugs)) Flannery.

    I’ve had to remind myself of #4 multiple times. We were told that Little Miss had a below average processing speed, but when it came time to scrutinize the results, we found out that measurement of processing speed is done by having the child *circle* correct answers quickly. Of course she did poorly! My child has the fine motor skills of a 2 1/2 year old! When they re-administered the test (they couldn’t score it officially but wanted to see if it truly was fine motor), Little Miss did awesome.

    Hang in there. Connor has the same bright light shining. It’ll come out in its own time.

  5. You are crazy wise. I needed this. Thanks.

  6. exactly…gulp…I will remember this list…and yes make defeats into tools…and carry on swallowing it all with courage and bravery. Cheers…

  7. Good stuff. Very good reminders for all of us raising special kiddos.

  8. Love this, and I really know what you mean. I see “far below basic” on those stupid state tests every fucking year. Stupid state tests. 😦

  9. Jenny Saul-Avila

    This can also be applied to when you receive a report from your child’s neurologist, specialist, etc. when they’ve done their own evals. I was reading my son’s 2nd ever yearly eval a couple months ago & there was a section in there that I’d missed somehow when it was in the last year’s eval. There were some words I didn’t know, so I googled them – and they sounded just awful! Basically, amounted to saying that my child is possibly brain damaged, possibly had a brain injury. I hadn’t though of his Autism as brain damage or caused by an injury. I suppose in some literal translation it could be, but those words alone just sounded so depressing. So I messaged my husband about it & he brought me away from my dark thoughts & reminded me that those words don’t matter, so much as what we have been doing with our son and all the progress he made, from the time of that first evaluation.

  10. Yes to all of this. Those tests are full of shit. I know the feeling, though, of being kicked or stabbed whenever you get the results… especially when your kid is the one to give them to you, excitedly. THAT sucks. However, #9… that is what I did. It worked.

  11. Great advice. Those test results don’t define our kids.


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