There is some general advice you receive before bringing your child in for psychoeducational testing. Basically, you want your child to be in their “normal” mood, or as close as you can get to there as possible. Normal bedtime, normal food, normal excitement levels. Ideally. Easier said then done.
I was worried. What if he came down with some freak illness? He was still building immunity to all of the kindergarten illnesses. The psychologist’s office was an hour away, more with traffic. How would a long car ride and an early morning affect him? What if I couldn’t get him to bed on time? What if he didn’t sleep that night? I tried to tell myself that at least the test results would be accurate, he never really sleeps anyway.
I did make sure to tell my son ahead of time that we would be going to a psychologist to get an idea of how his brain works and how best to help him learn all of the things that he loves to learn. He cried. He screamed. His face turned tomato. Apparently, telling a three year old that you want to see how his brain works when they’ve watched Grey’s Anatomy with one eye open while feigning sleep in complete awe of neurosurgery and then practiced on play dough brains… not a great idea. I explained that no, we didn’t need to cut open his brain and no it wouldn’t hurt, and that it was more like playing games, and he was much more excited. Mommy fail doesn’t even begin to explain it.
The testing was split up into two half days with a week in between. My husband was luckily home for the first day. We signed in, filled out some forms, and then my son played with the administrator while we met with the tester. We were asked about my pregnancy and labour, Kaleb’s infanthood and toddlerhood, health, likes and dislikes – all things that are a part of a psychoeducational assessment. I tried to tell myself that he wasn’t judging us. Are we crazy? We’re crazy.
Then came the most difficult part. The waiting. Kaleb happily skipped off with the tester and we were given rough estimates to how long they would be working for. The test was broken up so that Kaleb could get lots of breaks while the tester did some scoring and setting up in between subtests. While we waited we kept our fingers crossed that Kaleb was cooperating. He loves to say “I don’t know.” What if he just sat there and said “I don’t know” until time ran out? What if he purposely gave wrong answers to be silly? What if they found out something was wrong and we’ve been ignoring it for years?
Kaleb skipped back to us after the first subtest with a huge smile on his face and a cookie in his hand. He wolfed it down and bounced up and down, asking when he could go back with the tester. He stared at the door happily, and practically leaped at the tester when it was time to go back again.
His second to last time that he came out that first day, we could tell he was getting tired. I found myself overanalyzing every little thing the tester told us. “He’s doing great.” Well, what else would he say? “Your kid is doing horrible and I can’t believe you wasted your money and my time on this you crazy, asinine, insane people?” No! Even if he wanted to say that, I mean I’m assuming that wouldn’t bode well for his career, even if it was true. I tried to not read too much into it. And I also tried not to get to get too worried. I was pretty certain there was a twinkle in his eye that meant it was going really, really, really well and he kind of couldn’t believe the crazy people were right. But he couldn’t say that either.
The testing centre was down the street from a trampoline park, so we brought Kaleb there to get some exercise afterwards. The following week all he did was talk about his new friend, the tester. Actual thing he said: “I wish I could just see [science tutor] and [tester] every day instead of going to school! I just love them so much!”
The night before the second session, he was so excited he wouldn’t go to sleep. Finally at around 10pm, I picked up my phone and “called” the tester, saying we couldn’t go the next day because he still wasn’t asleep. “Okay,” I said in my horrible bad mom fake sigh, “I guess I’ll give him ten more minutes to fall asleep.” He was out in two.
And to think I was worried that he would hate testing and blame me for the rest of his life for subjecting him to such a thing.
The next day I was on my own. My husband works away, and between Kaleb’s birthday and testing we just couldn’t swing it that he was there for all of the events we had panned. Without him there to distract me, I was painfully aware of the time. It seemed like he was done every subtest way earlier than he should be. Despite the tester’s smiles, which I was now convinced had to be fake, I was certain my son was pleading the 5th (yes, I know you can’t actually plead the 5th in Canada) and refusing to answer any of the questions.
Finally, I say “finally” because I was stressed out to the max even though it was much quicker than I thought it would be, it was time for my meeting with the tester to discuss the results. I was stunned. He had actually cooperated. More than cooperated. I remember staring at the tissue box on the desk behind the tester’s head and willing it closer, but then also thankful that it was too far away because I had to suck it up and not cry or I would be stuck with a streaky mascara-covered face.
I had done enough research that while I was confident my son was gifted, I also hoped he wasn’t profoundly gifted. I mean, chances were, he wasn’t. I knew parenting a child of that calibre would not be easy. I was gifted as a child, and it was difficult enough. But it turns out he was a little more than “just” gifted, despite the chances.
So initially I wanted to cry. Then I wanted to back up and make sure I was understanding this properly. Even while being informed of my son’s abilities I was still convinced that I was snowflaking it. The tester made sure to reiterate over and over that we had a big challenge ahead of us. I am really thankful of that. Because even though I had done all of the reading, it’s another thing to hear it from a professional and know how it applies to you.
A week or two later, we were sent a long report full of subtests and scoring explanations, advice for enrichment and education and anxiety. After I had agonized over it with my husband, I called back and asked for some clarifications now that I was a bit more level headed. I wanted to get more of a feel of my son’s results because a number is a number. It’s useful yes, but there are so many factors that affect it. I wanted to make sure I understood where we stood as best as I could.
You can read about my thoughts immediately following testing here.