While we love the staff at our preschool, we knew after this year that the program just wasn’t going to work for Bella. A friend of ours from high school urged us to check out the preschool programs offered by our school district. I called and made an appointment for an educational evaluation to determine whether Bella qualified for a program aimed at kids with autism and similar problems.
With autism, there are two evaluations — the medical evaluation, and the educational evaluation. The educational evaluation determines what kind of extra educational needs Bella has, and what the schools need to do in order to help her be successful academically. A team of professionals, including a social worker, child psychologist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist (but definitely not an analrapist or theralyst) meet with you and your child, ask you questions, observe her, and conduct different tests and assessments. Then they compile everything into a report that gives their diagnosis, and what they can offer your child in terms of therapies, classroom assistance, special programs, etc. It’s an intense, serious situation. Responsible, mature parents should easily be able to handle this.
On the day of our appointment, Rob and I took Bella to the school that runs the preschool programs for the district. We sat down with the -ists and began to tell them about our concerns while Bella sat at a little table nearby with a few more -ists and talked with them. I gave the social worker the documents that proved our residency as well as how responsible and mature we were. Bella was busy being charming and delightful, as usual. Everything was going very smoothly, because we were not a crazy cat lady and Bob Ross — we were, in fact, two responsible, mature parents who could handle serious responsibilities like discussing their daughter’s emotional and educational challenges.
It was about then that Bella walked over and puked in the garbage can.
The night before, Bella had woken up twice from a dead sleep to throw up. No fever, no other symptoms at all. Just an inability to keep anything at all down, even water. Despite this, she woke up the following morning, same old Bella, just a little tired from getting a poor night’s sleep. In fact, I actually forgot about the puking episodes until about five minutes before we left the house for the appointment.
“It’s still okay to go to this appointment, right? I mean, she’s been fine all morning.”
“Yeah, dude, this is fine.”
Although maybe crazy cat lady and Bob Ross kind of knew it wasn’t fine, considering they wouldn’t let Bella eat or drink anything but a small sip of water before they left. You know, just in case.
And so there we were, being all mature and shit, and then we were like, “Oh shiiiiiiiiiiiit,” as we watched our poor daughter throw up over a beige metal garbage can in front of all the -ists that were probably mentally filling out the paperwork for a surprise CPS visit. After trying to act surprised and not like I was watching my daughter throw up for the third time in twelve hours, and assuring the -ists that no, this isn’t normal behavior for her to suddenly throw up, and getting her a (small) sip of water in the hallway, Bella was totally fine and continued on with the evaluation. I did have to use every ounce of strength in my body to hold back a laugh when she sat back down at the little table and then, ten seconds later, made the fakest burp/puke sound on Earth, completely freaking out the two women who had just narrowly missed being puked on five minutes earlier. “Bella? Bella? Are you okay?” “Yeah, I’m okay,” with a look on her face that would make any Internet troll proud.
All things considered, it was still a successful experience. Everyone fell head-over-heels in love with Bella, of course, because that’s what she does to people who talk to her for more than five minutes. Rob and I felt great about the people working with her, their feedback about her, and the programs they offered. We made an appointment to bring her back again for a few more evaluations, and we’ll meet with the whole gang again next week to receive a nice, big report with the results and the plan for next school year. So yeah, we’re feeling pretty grown-up about the whole thing.