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Jul
04
2018

I was honestly overwhelmed by all your comments here, on Facebook, via email, through skywriting. Okay, no one hired a plane to skywrite to me. Maybe next time.

But your outpouring of support after I posted about my son Cash was amazing. Your personal stories and journeys with your own children lifted me up and gave me hope. Thank you for sharing them.

Scary Mommy asked to publish my post and I was honored. I want parents to know – no matter what a doctor tells you, there is always hope. Always.

Many people commented that I should sent the post to the child psychologist who assessed Cash. And I was hesitant. I had said all I needed to say right here.  We had already consulted with many other experts who deemed her dim and definitive prognosis unprofessional and not even possible – given he is only five.

So what did I have to gain from sending this doctor my feelings on how she had handled the situation? She basically turned our world upside down in just a few minutes.

But then I talked to Devorah Kaplan. Devorah runs the Downtown Jewish Preschool here in Fort Lauderdale where Cash spent his first year of preschool.

When we first moved to Fort Lauderdale, we were trying to find a preschool for Cash. Rick said to me, “I found one. It’s a Chabad preschool. It’s Orthodox.”

I reminded my husband that I was not exactly Jewish so maybe an Orthodox preschool wasn’t the best fit. He said, talk to Devorah and then decide.

It took one phone call to sign my son up.  Devorah Kaplan is an amazing educator and a person filled with compassion and a true understanding of how children develop and grow. Her energy and passion for her work and life is inspiring.

She called me recently to tell me how much she appreciated the post I wrote about Cash. And then she said something else that sort of began to haunt me.

She said that sometimes when parents are given a grim diagnosis about their child’s cognitive abilities, it freezes them in their tracks. Instead of propelling them immediately to get special services for their child, they feel hopeless. They think nothing will change the diagnosis, so they do nothing.

Then it can almost become a self-fulfilling prophesy because early intervention is so vital when kids have special needs and challenges.

Now this thankfully didn’t happen with us because we immediately sought other opinions. And Cash was already receiving OT, speech and physical therapy. But what about a family who walks into that first child psychologist and given all her credentials and experience, just believes her. And just loses hope about the future of their child.

And this began to really bother me.  So I decided to write the child psychologist who assessed Cash an email. And here is what I said..

_________________________

Hi Dr. ——-,

You recently completed a psychoeducational evaluation for my son Cash. Thank you for the time you took with him. Although Cash certainly faces many challenges, I was stunned by how definitive you were in your predictions about his future – especially since you don’t make it a practice to follow your patients longterm. I don’t question your diagnosis but only your definitive predictions about his long term prospects.

I think it’s important for you to know the impact you are having on families. I’m a writer and I wrote this piece so perhaps you can better understand what it’s like to be the parent sitting on the couch listening to the way you deliver your vision of a child’s future.

I only hope you can open your heart to the possibilities of every child, no matter what challenges they face. Because we all have limitless potential. And it’s important for every family to leave your office knowing that their son or daughter can not only rise to the challenges life presents but thrive in amazing ways.

Good luck to you.

_________________________

I have not yet received a response and I don’t really expect to. But I hope my words will just maybe give her a tiny bit of compassion for the next “Cash” who walks into her office.

I have such respect for doctors. Science and the study of the mind is an incredible thing. But there is something else that is hard to quantify. It’s the magic and resiliency of children. And she should stop doubting it.

We have been so blessed to find amazing speech, occupational and physical therapists to work with Cash. These professionals are so committed and talented. I sat down the other night to play a matching game with Cash that his occupational therapist had sent home.

It’s not easy for Cash. This is not a boy who wants to be bothered with sitting down when he can possibly figure out how to jump from the counter to the couch with his brother.

But for a few minutes, we played.

And then he did something I never saw before. He read the numbers off the pieces of paper. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. I was stunned. Cash has never read anything before and he recognized these numbers.

I made him do it again to make sure it was real.

It was.

My son is making progress. In his own time. Cash does everything his own way. So why would this be any different?

Cash has magic. And resiliency. And so does every kid out there.

We just have to support and believe in them.


11 Responses to The Big Question: Do I Send My Post About Cash to the Child Psychologist Who Assessed Him?

  • Georgia Salaverri says:

    Cash does have magic, resilience and the sweetest personality. He will go far because he is truly blessed to have you and Rick as his parents. He has a big, loving family and many friends who will be his cheerleaders along the way. I will always be eager to know what amazing things your gifted boy achieves!

  • Robyn says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I feel your letter was appropriate and necessary. I always look foward to hearing about Cash.

  • Wendy says:

    Cash is lucky to have so much love and support behind him. One doctor’s opinion will never break that.

  • Susan Kintner says:

    You are an amazing person and an amazing mom. I am so happy you sent your letter to the psychologist–giving her a chance to learn and grow. May she do is and Cash is definitely a miracle worker. Love and hugs, mom

  • Nancy Boyles says:

    The original post was spot-on, and this post is a great follow-up. I am not a psych examiner or even a special ed teacher. However, I have been an educator for decades and hope you will consider these points: Composite scores from tests are misleading at best. To derive the bottom line (composite) score, the sub-tests are lumped together and averaged. This fails to account for “outliers” where a child may have done very well in one area and poorly in another. Psychologists are sometimes satisfied with composite scores because they just want to know the general “ballpark” number. But parents and teachers should never settle for this kind of summary. Instead, look at the individual sub-test results. These can be used diagnostically to inform intervention, because they are specific enough to identify skill areas that need attention. The best assessments are never about the child’s past achievements or performance, but about their future. Also, I’m not sure if Cash was given the S-B5, but that test (and many others) are only marginally valid for preschoolers. (Test publishers are required to disclose this.) Educational testing should be a tool to meet students’ needs, not a weapon to categorize and limit them. (Nancy– Terrell’s sister-in-law)

  • Michelle says:

    We were told that my daughter would never read when she was 3. She is currently working on college applications to Georgetown, NYU, etc. Your response to this evaluator is perfect. Cash is perfect too!

  • Corey says:

    I like to imagine what the world would be like if everyone gave everyone else the chance to be their own person, develop their own gifts, shine in the ways that honor their strengths… I hope your feedback to this child psychologist will encourage her to do that.

  • Steph says:

    So glad you sent the email and that you received overwhelming support from your people. I hope it makes her think twice before predicting the entire arc of a five year old child’s life. Thanks for sharing. I bet Cash will continue to surprise you with his magic.

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