Yesterday was Nixon's big appointment for a second opinion by our insurance company. This has been a long time coming and I really pushed to get this appointment. The original diagnosis was only ADHD by our insurance company, which was met with a quick push for medication.
This appointment was a meeting with a board of 6 people who were going to evaluate Nixon's behaviors/speech/motor skills/school reports plus his GARS and other questionnaires I was asked to complete and bring to the appointment.
We arrived 30 minutes later, in spite of leaving more than 90 minutes before our scheduled appointment time. Traffic in our area sucks! There were at least 3 different traffic accidents and backups that led to our late arrival. Thankfully, I called and gave the office a head's up so they were aware and prepared when we arrived. Nixon was pretty good even when he got bored, we did some math questions in the car.
Without going into the long almost 2 hours of the evaluation and results process, the gist is: these medical professionals agreed with the school's findings that Nixon does have ASD/ADHD and SPD. He is highly hyper active and it's making any other disability hard to address. At one point, in a 2 minute period, Nixon got up/fidgeted/changed the subject over 15 times. While being asked questions about emotions, he was asked if he's ever sad. Nixon said "Well, sometimes I'm sad when no one plays with me at center time" (Center time is learning-based play centers in his classroom, he's never told me before that he's sometimes left without a partner or team during center time. That was difficult to hear and kind of put everything in perspective for me.)
With the official medical diagnosis Nixon is now eligible for: OT (occupational therapy), ST (speech therapy) and ABA (applied behavioral analysis), all which will be covered by our insurance company! Plus we have a doctor's recommendation for a choice in schools when we meet with the County Central IEP Board in a couple weeks.
You'd think that would be the end of the "good news" but it's not.
This afternoon, Mac and I had a meeting with the Vice Principal regarding the recess incident from last week. I had requested to view video footage from the playground area, as the entire situation felt odd.
Turns out, my gut feeling wasn't wrong.
Mac asked to see a few minutes before the actual incident, which was cued up and didn't give any possible clue for Nixon's actions. As we watched the grainy, jumpy, tiny figures on the screen, Mac and I started noticing things. The biggest one was Nixon was giving off non-verbal signals to the other child that he wanted to be left alone and the other child didn't respect those signals. Nixon put his arm out, straight at the child and the boy came at him. Nixon then dropped to the ground and basically turtled up (for lack of a better word),the boy then continued to stand over Nixon a few seconds before walking away. There's some discrepancy because to me it looked like Nixon may have been kicked by the boy, but neither Mac nor the Vice Principal could seem to see what I was looking at and said it may have been the boy turning to walk away. Either way, the next frame Nixon got up and went after the boy. The rest is history.
After viewing this a few more times to be sure we all saw the same thing, the Vice Principal asked us to explain the non-verbal body language Mac and I were seeing Nixon displaying. She said she was going to show the other boy's mother (a teacher at the school) the video and explain the body language as we had explained to her, so she knows Nixon did not attack her son unprovoked. It's nice, but Mac's offer to sit down and speak with the other parent as well (prior to learning she was a teacher at the school) was rebuffed as "unnecessary" because this teacher "has worked with disabled children before and I'm sure she'll understand Nixon's particular case when I explain the video as you have", mind you all this took place with 3 adults less than 5 feet away and not one of them was aware of Nixon's nonverbal signals making me wonder how many of his other "major incidents" with other students had situations like this happening.
I'm glad he wasn't suspended, because I'd have been more pissed off than I already was leaving that meeting room today. It seems, and thankfully today Mac was there to actually witness the bias, the school is so quick to paint Nixon as this bad, out-of-control child that no one even thinks to check to see if there was a valid reason for his actions. If I hadn't have followed my gut and asked to view the footage and Mac hadn't have asked to view more than the 15 seconds that was cued up for us, we wouldn't have the answers we have tonight.