Jack, my son with autism, has been evaluated many, many times. Pediatricians, speech therapists, school officials, psychologists, developmental specialists, occupational therapists—you name it, he’s been evaluated by it.
As different as each of these specialists and evaluations have been, they all have something in common: I’ve had to fill out pages and pages of detailed forms for each of them. I loathe these forms. I’ve filled out dozens of pages of developmental questionnaires about Jack, and honestly, I’ve probably answered the same question differently each time.
It’s really hard to remember many of the specifics the forms ask about. When did your child consistently put two words together? At what age did your child say his first sentence? At what age was he able to use a fork and spoon without spilling? When were you first concerned about your child’s development?
It doesn’t help that many of these milestones occurred when Jack was two and my youngest son was an infant. Between sleep deprivation, trying to take care of three very young children and attempting to keep up my various responsibilities, there is a whole year of my life that I have little to no recollection of. Unfortunately, it was during that year that Jack learned the alphabet. But what month? I can’t remember!
Some of these things are in Jack’s baby books or his medical records. Jack first smiled when he was one and a half months old. It says in his baby book that Jack’s first word was “mama” at just under a year and that he said both “uh-oh” and “hello” at 16 months. I know I was concerned about Jack’s development at age two, because he was evaluated—and found to not qualify for services—by the county early intervention program when he was two and a half. (I filled out forms for them too.)
Yet even with my decent record keeping, there are huge gaps in my memory. When I fill out these forms, the details seem so crucial and important. I hope the specialists looking at them know that many of the answers are guesswork. I can’t imagine that I’m the only mom who extrapolates when her child first zipped his coat by remembering that it had to have happened in the winter, but we still had the old car, so it must have been November 2005.
Jack is going in for another evaluation next month. Tonight, I plan to sit down with a stack of forms, Jack’s baby book, and folders full of prior evaluations. I will write down what age I think Jack first rode a tricycle, when he was potty trained, and how he played with toys when he was a baby. Hopefully, at least some of the information will be accurate.