I Think I Have Post-Traumatic Evaluation Report Reading Disorder

Amy Corbett Storch
Toddlers & Preschoolers

The absolute hardest thing, my most LEAST-FAVORITE part of parenting a special-needs child, is reading assessments and evaluation reports about my son.

It's gotten easier, for sure: The most recent progress report I received carefully documented a year's worth of solid, undeniable progress. And the stuff still marked as "challenging" or "difficult" for Noah was not nearly so ... terrifyingly basic and essential, as it was when we first started. More quirks and social hiccups and fewer missing vital life skills, if that makes any sense. He may have trouble with auditory processing and discrimination of letter sounds while in a busy, noisy classroom, but at least there's no longer any doubt that he KNOWS most of his letter sounds, or is CAPABLE of learning letter sounds.

But still. Those damned clinical write-ups about every difference and difficulty your child faces. They always start the same way, with a nice, friendly-sounding adjective in the first sentence, something I'm SURE everybody in special education is instructed to include simply for the sake of us worried, panicked parents.

"Noah is an adorable two-year-old boy," our very first one reads. "Noah is a delightful four-year-old boy," the latest one reads. My all-time favorite one, written after a particularly trying assessment session, went with "spirited."

My all-time least favorite one came from a school psychologist who observed Noah in his preschool classroom. It arrived in the mail and I must have checked the envelope and cover letter four or five times to make sure we hadn't gotten Some Other Noah's report, because I didn't even recognize the child she was describing. I knew Noah was really struggling at that point, but I had NO IDEA just how bad it was.

Ever since, I get a spike of anxiety whenever I settle down to read any "official" write-up or report. Even though I know I should know, and that I probably DO know, everything it will contain. I'm involved! I'm communicative! We're all part of Team Noah and his teachers and therapists tell me everything I need to know. But still. What if there's something ELSE. Something NEW. Something I missed or overlooked or assumed wasn't a big deal.

This most recent go-round, there wasn't. And for that I am super-grateful. But I wonder if this is a fear I'll ever be able to let go of -- if I'll ever be able to look at a regular old report card without worrying OH GOD NOW WHAT?


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