We have just returned from a great trip home to England for Christmas to a little bit of a surprise. Elliot took some Kindergarten readiness tests in December so we headed into school to get the results. We met with Teacher Bonnie Elliots 4 day Preschool teacher at Mulberry to discuss what they found. The tests are designed to determine how well your child is doing and whether they are ready for Kindergarten. Although we are not completely blind to how Elliot has been doing since we arrived in California I think what we are about to find out is still a little bit of a shock. Elliot has always been what we have described as very quite and struggles to integrate with his peers, I guess in England he would probably be described as a very shy little boy. This aside we sit down to discuss the tests with Bonnie, in which many areas of development are assessed. The expectation at Elliot’s age is to be scoring an average of 7 in all of the various areas. Anything above this is determined above average and the child is doing really well. This is where the good news starts and pretty much ends……..Elliot scored well over 7 in lots of areas in some areas 14 and 15 the bad news is that he scored 0 in lots of areas also. So what could this possibly mean Bonnie seems to think there is some sort of learning difference in play here. I’m not so sure and here is why………..
Since Elliot was 18 months old he has always had a very high pitched scream, this obviously doesn’t sound like much but this coupled with some other unusual behaviours such as reluctance to change in routines, his reaction to relatively normal situations, difficulty mixing in any large groups, especially his peers and struggling to express emotions have made me wonder if he is on the Autism Spectrum. From what little I knew about Autism I felt that Elliot was not severely Autistic but he certainly is exhibiting characteristics from the spectrum. With this in mind I decided to ask Bonnie the question I didn’t want the answer to. “Do you think that Elliot is Autistic?”
Bonnie answered with a very firm No but did feel that something else maybe in play and discussed the term “Learning Difference” again. As Elliot is such a bright little boy I struggled to think how this could be the case. Bonnie suggested that the next steps would be to enlist the help of the student support worker Paula Ramos to come into class and observe Elliot. We also needed to start considering our options for next year as the test showed Elliot wasn’t ready for Kindergarten so we would need to make another choice. Simon and I leave the meeting feeling pretty shell shocked no parent wants to here that their child isn’t the next genius in the making let alone has “issues” they need to overcome. We certainly have a lot to think about until our next meeting with Bonnie and Paula. Hopefully Paula will be able to come into class and observe Elliot pretty soon.