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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Prejudice via diagnosis

Today we went to yet a couple more follow-up doctor's appointments (this is what you do on school breaks when your kid has multiple medical issues).

Anyway, one of the exams was an eye exam where the doctor was trying to see if Ellie could see some squares filled with increasingly thin and close stripes. I wasn't sure if he wanted me to prompt her or what I should do. I could tell that Ellie wasn't sure what he wanted because he was just flashing these things in front of her face trying to see where she was looking. She was looking at him. At one point she laughed because he looked like he was playing peekaboo behind the card as he shifted from side to side to look at her face (Ellie was checking out all the gadgets - because she is a gadget girl and loves all things electronic). He didn't even crack a smile. And when Ellie laughs and you don't it is truly indicative of a limited sense of humor. She has the best laugh.

So when he was switching cards I said, "I think she is unsure of what you want her to do (because you haven't asked her to do anything!). Do you think it would help if we asked her to point to the picture?"

His response was, "She could do that?!"

Me, "Yes, that is how she communicates with us by making choices and spelling everything to us all day."

Dr., "Oh great."

The good news is that after that, Ellie picked out quite a few of the pictures resulting in better vision than the last time. The assumption he was making after reading Ellie's diagnosis, before meeting her, and neglecting to ask me what her skills were, and because she was silent because she is still under the weather, was that she didn't have the cognitive abilities to pick out a picture image on a page or communicate in a way that would be meaningful. That may seem like a leap, but after he saw Ellie respond appropriately to her requests he used her name more, he looked at her more, and overall waited for her responses and ques during the exam. Good for him shifting gears. I wonder if the next time he reads about a kid with brain damage, PVL, CP, acquired Hydrocephalus, etc, etc. he will remember Ellie and not judge them by their medical history. Ellie could use the benefit of the doubt and so can anyone who is different than the norm.

As a parent I realize that I am still Ellie's best advocate (i.e. Warrior Mama!). I had to advocate a lot for her today. The good news is it's not so difficult anymore or as tiring. It's just par for the course.

6 comments:

Bird said...

I've seen these crazy eye exams. I left feeling like I had just left Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory.

I wonder these days about what Charlie's abilities will be in the verbal arena. He's so with-it, but you have to pay attention to see that.

Angela said...

WAY TO GO ELLIE (and momma too). We've been there so many times and you're right, it's just par for the course now...

I know how Jack looks on paper...I had to send in a ton of stuff to the school district before they even met with Jack to determine placement for kindergarten (YIKES) anyway, I included a picture of a smiling Jack Riley and my thought was if they see JACK instead of the black and white that maybe those assumptions wouldn't be made prior to meeting and interacting with him.

Kathryn said...

HI Angela,

That is a great idea. I think I am going to send this doctor a better picture of Ellie. He actually had one but she was half asleep and looked aweful in it. I think I am going to do that with all her doctors! GRRR!

Bird - they are pretty extensive exams. And long and when the doctor wants Ellie to look at a stupid rubber duck for 20 minutes he is mistaken. Rubber ducks have and interest quotiant of about 5 seconds for Ellie, especially when there are multiple computer screens around.

Charlie may surprise everyone! I hope he does!!

Lori said...

Kathryn,
What child wouldn't get bored looking at a rubber duck for more than a few seconds?!? She's a child! All young children have varied attention spans.

You are such a great advocate for Ellie. I know it is out of necessity, but I can tell you really manage to strike that balance of grace and conviction. I hope that doctor learned something very valuable that he won't soon forget.

Laura said...

I've been asked to tag six of my blogger friends so you're one of my targets. I always enjoy reading you and your blog and love watching Ellie grow up. If you have already been tagged or if this is too much for you at the time, don't worry about it.

Here are the basic rules of this

*Link to the person who tagged you.
*Post the rules on your blog .
*Write six random things about yourself.
*Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
*Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment at their blog.
*Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Kathryn said...

Lori - well said! Sometimes I wonder if I ever get my point across...!

Laura - I will think about doing this one....hmmmm