Thursday, April 1, 2010

Psychological Assessment@KKH

Gosh... it has been eons since I updated this blog... so much has happened the past few weeks or so... I had a dialogue session with Rayyan's teachers and therapists at SPD, Rayyan had gone for his psychological assessment at KKH, Rayyan had started his first session at AAS this morning, my very first domestic helper is back with us (thank God) and I am currently teaching her how to handle Rayyan... and so much more...

I guess I will start with his psychological assessment at KKH.. His assessment was last Friday and well, it is now kind of 'official' that Rayyan is indeed in the autism spectrum. I did not expect anything different... Neither did I expect a miracle. I am more than ready to accept the fact that my son is autistic. In fact, I did not leave the place feeling sad or depressed.. But I did leave the place feeling frustrated and ANGRY! I was so angry that I did not even talk to my Hubby one whole day!

A few things contributed to that frustration and anger but first, let me just explain the procedure or rather, process that took place.. The whole assessment was done in 4 hours in a small, clinical room. The psychologist seemed rather rigid to me but well, maybe she has to be like that for the assessment to be carried out more effectively.

Apart from the cupboards and cabinets, there was a small table, two small chairs, a mat and several toys. As usual, I was bombarded with questions and told to fill up a long questionnaire. The psychologist told us that she wanted to observe Rayyan and get him to complete several tasks.

Rayyan played with the toys for several minutes and then got bored of them. He was agitated that he was locked in the small room and kept going to the door. Unfortunately, he was also super hyper that day, running and jumping around.

Rayyan was then shown pictures and asked to point at several items (animals, household items, stationery, etc) and he did that excellently. Then came inferring questions like..
What vehicle goes on water?
What do you use to cut?
Where do you go to bathe?

And as he was not exposed to such questions, he scored poorly. Each time he was given a task, he was timed too to see how fast he answered each question. He was then asked to do puzzles.. two and three-piece puzzles which are actually not a problem for him. In fact, he was really fast but after the fifth or sixth puzzle, he got bored and didn't want to do it anymore. Why do they have to give so many?

By this time, he got more agitated and bored and insisted that we open the door for him. He was then asked to 'copy' the psychologist's actions by stacking blocks. At first, he cooperated but after that, he didn't want to copy and kept bringing down the blocks that the psychologist built! And since the psychologist needed to complete the task, she kept asking him to do it. And Rayyan refused to cooperate..sigh..

The psychologist then moved on to other tasks, like asking him to point at his body parts, jump, kick a ball, etc... And the psychologist also asked us many questions regarding his ablilities.. like body language, requesting for items, etc....

And after a gruelling 4-hr session, she finally concluded the assessment. She concluded that Rayyan is indeed in the spectrum. I asked her if he is at the mild, moderate or severe end of the spectrum but she told me that they wouldn't make that conclusion at this point of time because he is still very young. She said that another assessment will be done when he is 5 to see his progress and determine which kind of school is suitable for him.

She then discussed about Rayyan's cognitive ability and said that at this point, Rayyan scored a low average because he can only label but doesn't know how to infer, he doesn't know how to use body language... basically he doesn't understand language much. She also said that much needed to be done with regards with his behaviour.. He needs to have a structured routine, he needs to learn to request for things, he needs to play meaningfully, he needs to learn to sit down and do a task, he needs to learn to write........

And how was I feeling the whole time? Like I said, not sad but angry and frustrated. I am not trying to be defensive but I didn't like the way the assessment was done right from the beginning. How can a boy be subjected to an assessment in a confined, small room for 4 hours straight? I did ask if we can have a break and let him go out for a while but she said no, the assessment must be completed on time. And when Rayyan was agitated and wouldn't cooperate, she took it that he didn't know or didn't understand. Furthermore, how can you conclude a boy's ability in just one session?

But like I said, I am not trying to be defensive. In fact, the other reason why I was angry was because, I was angry with myself! I already know what needs to be done. I agree with her regarding the fact that Rayyan needs to have a structured routine, he needs to learn how to play, he needs to learn to request for things, he needs to work on his gestures and body language,etc... I know all that but the thing is, I am too busy to teach him and that is why, I was angry!! I felt totally useless and irresponsible towards my own child!

That was why even though I disagreed on several issues, I didn't protest what the psychologist said.. I actually treat the assessment as a wake-up call.. A wake-up call that I must do more, a wake-up call that I can't be lax, a wake-up call that my son is depending on me to help him. I know my son better than anybody else in the world, certainly much better than a psychologist who only spent 4 hours with him.. I know that there is so much potential in my boy.. I just need to try my best to unleash that potential...