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Ed Psych (AS? just senstitive?)- would really appreciate input from those with experience

(3 Posts)
BrightenMyNorthernSky Mon 08-Oct-12 21:19:58

My 4 year old DS recently started school. At a meeting with his teacher last week, she suggested that she would like an educational psychologist to observe him. This is based on her observations, and those of the pre-school which he attended (tied to the school) for a term before the summer.

I completely agree that there are issues, and am very happy with her suggestion. He is absolutely not a run-of-the-mill little boy. In fact, I posted on here about 18 months ago (under a different user name) with suspicions that he might be at the very high functioning end of the autistic spectrum (and got some great advice). I had, on the whole, concluded that he was probably NT but just quirky, however the new environment of school has thrown up some issues.

He is extremely bright. Maths is at about the level of an 8/9 year old. He is reasonably good at literacy too - very comfortable with phonics, loves stories and can read basic, phonetic words. Although she hasn't exactly said as much, I think it is the mismatch between his intellectual and social skills that has prompted the teacher to go down this road, rather than just treating him as "unco-operative" (which can only be a good thing).

In a nutshell, the issues identified by school are: immature style of play / not sure how to join in with other children / tries to control role play; prefers his own company; perfectionist about his work (one major meltdown when an art project went 'wrong', in his eyes); hangs back from group activities until he is sure of what is going on. The teacher has hinted at possible ASD, but has been clear that it is not her - or the ed psych's - place to say. He is not happy at school at all; he comes home every day saying that nobody would play with him and he didn't like it (and it is heartbreaking to have to keep sending him there day after day).

We see a slightly different picture at home: he plays very well with his friends - there are a couple of children who he has grown up with who he is very close to, and they play collaboratively (imaginary play, lego) with no problems. However he has never had to make new friends, and I can see that this is a challenge. He is extremely sociable once he gets to know people, but is definitely quite immature in terms of his social skills (although they are not awful, and I'm not sure what is normal for a just turned 4 year old boy! Lots of his attempts to interact with people are just based on running around and being silly). He is unphased by changes in routine, but will push to do things he wants to do, and on the whole prefers construction / numeracy / literacy / jigsaw etc type play to role play (although does both). He is empathetic and affectionate, constantly giving cuddles and telling us that he loves us, and is very caring towards his little brother. He is just lovely, well I think so anyway, but quite 'adult' in his interests - his ideal day out, e.g., would be a trip with me to a museum or art gallery (which is great for me!). He is really not interested in things like theme parks, or other more obvious "kid" things.

I know a very little amount about AS/ ASD having worked (in a non-professional capacity) with children with this condition, but appreciate that I am far from an expert. I have, however, run through the CAST test and, even being un-generous to him and going on what the teacher has observed re his play rather than what I have, he only scores 8 (the cut-off for ASD being 15). He is also easily able to 'pass' basic theory of mind tests such as Sally and Anne. I am kind of tending to the opinion that he is just very sensitive, rather than on the spectrum. He worries hugely about things like him dying, me dying, news stories he has heard etc.

So. I am rambling (I could go on forever about his many attributes!). My question is, how do I best handle the situation with the school / ed psch to make sure that we get the absolute most from it? Do I need to do anything to reconcile the mismatch between what the teacher sees and what I do? Or do I just leave it to them to observe him in a school setting, because that's what it's about, really? I suppose I am just a little nervous about how much of an open mind they will go into it with - not that I'm seeking to avoid a label if one would be beneficial - and unsure as to what the outcome of an ed psych assessment could be?

cansu Mon 08-Oct-12 21:38:38

I would let the process take its course. If the ed psych has concerns or even if she doesn't you can always ask your GP for a referral to a developmental pead to discuss whether your ds is on the spectrum. He may not score highly enough to get an ASD diagnosis but could still display some autistic behaviours. It may well be that even without the label, using some of the strategies that children on the spectrum find helpful will also help your ds. It will also be helpful for your ds teacher to adapt her thinking about your ds based on the idea that he may have some special needs such as aspergers. It may also be that your ds difficulties are more apparent in the school setting than at home. My dd who is very definitely autistic always seems much more autistic in the school setting because the pressures are more intense outside home. Even though I know she is very autistic i am always struck by how her anxiety is more obvious at school or in the playground.

BrightenMyNorthernSky Tue 09-Oct-12 07:50:19

Thank you, and yes, I can see how difficulties would be much more obvious at school. Over the last 4 years I've earned what works for him so that things can run smoothly at home, but I suspect that a traditional school approach will be a shock for him and will not get the best out of him. Think I need to clarify with the school what they see the process / timetable as being - still feel a bit in the dark about that.

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