I posted recently on my frustration with the “formal” assessments therapists and educators have tried to use on my daughter over the years. (The long winded post, Death by IEP / Assessments and Access, has great quotes from experts in the field about the problems with assessments geared toward children with typical vision and hearing.)
I learned early on in Eliza’s life to politely tell evaluators where they could put the assessments which would inevitably result in a grim column of zeroes or checkmarked boxes of “no”. Right back in their briefcases, of course. Ahem.
(I call dibs on “Grim column of zeroes” for a band name. “Checkmarked boxes of no” sounds like the world’s worst cereal. Nothing like the flavor of failure to start the day.)
The grim column of zeroes represents the failure of formal assessments to accurately gauge the abilities of children with sensory loss. It does not reflect their capacity to learn. It literally means nothing.
This has been a topic of conversation for CVI moms on Facebook recently. Probably because it is IEP season and we are all hunting resources for appropriate IEP goals for our kids. I am personally working on IEP goals that have higher expectations for my non-verbal kid who will wrap you around her finger with her cuteness, a method of sailing through life that has served her well so far.
Image: A girl smiling broadly swings at the park.
By asking around about the problem of assessments, it was suggested to me that I look into the work of Dr. Jan van Dijk. I thought I would pass along what I found.
From Perkins eLearning: In the early 1960s, Dr. Jan van Dijk of the Netherlands was asked to assess children with sensory impairments and multiple disabilities.
He found that existing assessment tools were not useful because they assumed that the children had been exposed to typical experiences; and he felt that children with sensory impairments and multiple disabilities, due to the very nature of their impairments, had not had the opportunity to experience the world in a typical manner.
Dr. van Dijk dedicated his 50-year career to helping children who have multiple disabilities in addition to deafblindness. His child-guided strategies are recognized and used throughout the world.
What is child-guided assessment?
Child-guided assessment is a procedure to bring the best of the child to the surface.
Children with multiple disabilities live in a fragmented world, often full of stress and anxiety.
The assessor wants to meet the child within this very peculiar world, to discover how learning in its broadest sense takes place. He tries to resonate with the child’s behavior by following the child’s lead.
When the child feels that he is controlling the situation, it is likely that he will open up and will follow the assessor’s suggestions for finding undiscovered paths for learning and emotional stability.
I watched one of Dr. van Dijk’s webcasts yesterday.
In my humble opinion, this is 29 minutes CVI moms need to watch to better understand why formal assessments don’t work and how to explain this to IEP teams. Dr. Jan van Dijk (who died last year) was an expert on working with children with multiple disabilities. And, as one CVI mom said to me recently, “CVI doesn’t stand alone.”
I felt as though I understood my complicated kid better after watching it. It’s important information and gives a glimpse into the way to reach our children.
Also, it’s fun to listen to Dr. van Dijk’s accent. (I am easily amused. Or, just weird after seeing one too many grim column of zeroes.)
If you get a chance to check it out, let me know what you think. I’d love to know if you found this information helpful and if it helps you make progress with your child’s team.