The evaluation room, with its bare white walls and covered window, reminded me of interrogation rooms in cop shows. Except, in this room, there was a kid table surrounded by four or five primary-colored kid chairs.
I sat in one corner feeding Elizabeth a bottle of milk. The evaluator, who was the school psychologist, explained that the DAYC (Developmental Assessment of Young Children) screening tool will be used for evaluating cognition, social-emotional development and adaptive behavior (self-help skills).
A black briefcase sat on one of the chairs next to the evaluator. The briefcase was filled with toys, not detective case files. Unlike the classic criminal interrogator bully in cop shows, the evaluator was approachable, pleasant and kind. She was just the kind of person Matthew would ham up to. He flashed his dimpled, sweet smile at her whenever they made eye contact.
The evaluation began with colored 1-inch blocks. His task was to put them in another container. He did. Very easily.
Then they went on to stacking. The evaluator didn't know that she was in the presence of a master stacker. He could easily stack 5 or more of these 1-inch blocks. He clapped and said "yay" and looked at her for praise. She smiled and said, "Good job!"
She showed him a key and a paper with a picture of a key and other objects. Where's the key? He scanned the pictures and pointed to the picture of a key. Yay!
When asked to give her one block, however, he had grabbed two in one hand and so ended up giving her both blocks. He clapped and flashed his dimpled smile at her again. Hmmm, nice distraction strategy.
She gave him a doll and pretend food. He promptly fed the doll saying "nom, nom, nom." Then she laid a small blanket on the table to see if he would put the doll on it for a nap. He didn't. I chimed in, "He usually tries to burp the doll we have at home and gives it a kiss." Elizabeth, who had just finished her bottle of milk, smiled at the evaluator. Hmm, was she in on the charm-and-distract strategy?
The evaluator laid a square, circle and triangle on the table. Then as an example, she put another square on the square. Apparently, it was part of protocol guidelines, when evaluating a child, not to provide verbal prompting that he was expected to match shapes. Interesting. She gave him a circle. He put it on the circle on the table. She gave him another triangle. He matched that too. He did another round of shape matching without flinching. She said, "Wow! Good job! Some kids don't know what to do with that."
She gave him a hairbrush and asked him what he would do with it. It was a brush so he pretended to brush his teeth. "He uses a comb at home," I said.
Next, she laid a red circle and a yellow circle on the table. As an example, she put another red circle on the red circle. Again, no verbal prompts about matching colors. She gave him a yellow circle. He put matched it with the yellow circle on the table. He matched the next few red and yellow circles too. His smile almost reads 'Is that all you've got, lady?' I informed her that he also knows blue, green and purple. And maybe even orange. The evaluator was impressed.
She laid a big yellow circle and a little yellow circle on the table. As an example, she put another big yellow circle on the big yellow circle. She gave Matthew a little yellow circle. He smiled and put it on the big yellow circle. I informed her that we were still working on "big" and "little".
Throughout the evaluation process, Matthew got out of his chair a few times to inspect the briefcase of toys. But he always sat back in his chair when directed to.
We were in the room for about an hour. She had Matthew's full attention for about 30 minutes. Not bad at all.
The rest of the time I answered questions for things that couldn't be tested. Does he like to be around other kids? Can he undress/ dress himself? Does he throw temper tantrums? Does he ask for help or bring me toys that he wants to play with? And so on and so forth.
Elizabeth was starting to fuss and yawn. I answered the last few questions swaying with my tired 3-month old baby. Matthew was playing with cars.
The next evaluation for speech and language was scheduled for the following week. The evaluator was smiling, obviously very impressed. Her comment, "Matthew is doing amazingly well" didn't surprise me. I smiled and thanked her. It was so reinforcing to hear that from someone who has never worked with Matthew before.
Way to go Matthew! He has, yet again, made a lasting good impression with his wits and skills. His charming, dimpled smile was just the icing on the cake. He would've made any criminal investigator smile.