In February, Sophie’s “team” at her pre-school broke the news that they weren’t so sure she was mentally retarded.
They sent me home with a copy of my parental rights and a pink paper heart that Sophie had cut herself, with minimal assistance. This was huge. She might be relatively smart, but no one can deny this is a kid with challenges.
She didn’t walk til she was 3. Her vocabulary is good, but the low muscle tone associated with Down syndrome makes it almost impossible to understand her. And they aren’t sure she’ll ever be able to write her name.
So cutting out a paper heart is huge.
I left the meeting, got in the car, and immediately e-mailed Trish. Trish is the most maternal person I know, and one of my oldest and dearest friends. She sat up all night with us, the night I had Annabelle. (She didn’t watch the C-section; we’re not THAT close.) When the results of the blood test came back, I called her second, after my mom. You know, I might have actually called her first; I don’t remember.
Her kids Zach and Abbie, now teenagers, are funny and wise, and all my other friends meet them and say, “That’s what I want my kids to be like.”
“Hey, get this,” I pecked on the iphone, that day in the car. “I had a meeting at Sophie’s school today. They do not think she is retarded.”
I knew what Trish would say, and I needed to hear it before I heard Ray’s response, or the babysitter’s. (Several times now, when she’s busted them for using the word retarded, the admonition being, “I thought we weren’t going to use that word because of Sophie,” both of Trish’s kids have told her, “But Mo-om, Sophie’s not retarded.”)
The reply was quick:
“Okay, no duh. The school confirms what Zach and Abie have been saying for years. I am also convinced that when Sophie looks into my eyes, she is looking into my soul (and she doesn’t always like what she sees).”
That is why I love Trish. Also for the panicked phone call I got several days later. “Oh shit,” she said. “I keep thinking about how that response I sent you wasn’t the response you needed to hear. This whole retarded thing is probably full of problems, it probably means she’ll lose her services, right?”
Yes. Well, maybe. The jury’s still out. In the ensuing months, Sophie’s been tested by the school, deemed below average but not retarded, then ultimately labeled mildly mentally retarded when the school officials realized that perhaps she’d lose services because of the lack of the label. (They made me make the call on that one. Fun.)
The school said her IQ is 83; the cut off for MR is 70.
So we’d have all the tools we might need, we had Sophie privately tested this summer. That’s where we went yesterday, to get the results.
I braced myself. I’ve known all along that the “not MR” thing won’t last forever. Soon enough, Sophie will fall behind, as school and life get harder. And I knew that the testing the school did was far from comprehensive, that my little party could end right there on the psychologist’s couch — at my behest, no less. Sort of, at least.
The report was more than 12 pages long, with all sorts of conclusions about behavior and social skills and possible ADHD, but when it came to IQ, the psychologist smiled wryly and said, “I can’t label her mentally retarded.”
Sophie’s IQ, this woman says, is 86.
Three points higher than what they said at school. We all had to laugh, a little.
I know, I know, IQ doesn’t mean anything. But hey, that was better than a kick in the head. I know I still have challenges. And I know I have a smart little girl.
I just wish I could keep up with her.
When we got home, Sophie announced she had to pee. “Well, go to the bathroom,” I said, although I usually accompany her. Maybe I’m holding her back, I thought. She’s smart. I should let her do her own thing. She’ll surprise me.
Sophie made it to the bathoom, climbed the stool onto the toilet and positioned herself on the Blues Clues seat designed to keep her from falling in.
Then she called to me, because she’d forgotten to take off her panties and shorts when she sat down.
“Don’t worry, sweetie,” I said, as I cleaned her up and got her dry clothes, feeling like I set her up, saying the only thing I could think of.
“Happens to me all the time.”