Child Behavior Problems & SSI
bb053 at scn.org
Sun Jan 28 03:23:44 PST 1996
One of the ways that SSI rules changed that led to more children
"qualifying" was to automatically accept children born with Down Syndrome.
When my son was born, I was told he did not qualify because there was no
way to predict how "disabled" he would be.
Later, he did too well on a developmental evaluation to qualify. He was
assigned to a psychologist to be tested who had not given the test he used
since he was in school; the appointment was the day after New Year's and
the psychologist was on his way to his skiing vacation. My son had been
tested at his early intervention center a few weeks before, using the same
test, and did things like show the psych that the cup to give the doll a
drink was a tiny one, not the full size cup that was used for something
else entirely (demonstrating the concept of bathing the doll?)
He gave my son 5 tries at tasks that were timed, saying that he was *sure*
my son could do it, he was just so darn slow that his abilities were not
being measured right. This was in a section where the child scored a pass
if he could put a certain number of pegs in holes in a certain amount of time.
The psychologist would read the instructions for each part of the test just
before giving it; so my son had plenty of time to remember what he was
supposed to do and practice it as he would at his early intervention center.
At the end of the session, the psychologist asked if I had a diagnosis for
my son. It old him yes, it was just the garden variety. He looked at me for
a minute without saying anything, so I added, You know, the garden variety
of Down Syndrome. His eyes popped open wide and he whipped around to look
at my son very closely, then turned to me and said he had no idea that kids
with Down Syndrome could do *anything.*
When my son was a bit older, another psychologist tested him for the SSI
requirements, and he was very professional and competent (no, I didn't
spin around and stare at him to say I didn't know psychologists could do
anything...). He told me some very nice things about my son. I told him that
he was doing remarkably well in a mainstream kindergarten class, and that was
surprising everyone in special ed in our district because he scored so low on
their tests they said he would never fit in anywhere in the mainstream. I was
ready to hear that he had again scored too high to qualify for SSI, but this
time I was proud to assign his success to his inclusive experience with a
wonderful mainstream kindergarten teacher and supportive classmates.
He talked to me for a while about the parts of the test he used, and how my
son scored on each one. It was rather confusing to me. I said something like,
So, do you think he could qualify for SSI with all his accomplishments?
This psychologist told me very gently that my son was a wonderful boy and he
enjoyed getting to know him during the test, but that with his IQ, he would
qualify for SSI all his life.
Sooooooo I think this whole thing about parents coaching their kids to fail
is just a political line. Although I can see where some children who
demonstrate their difficulties very effectively in classrooms and at home
might do very well in an examiner's office - I think it would be a very small
number of parents who would want them to do badly. I think for most families it
would be, Well, my child has problems, but he did too well to qualify for SSI,
so there is hope for him after all...
On the other hand, families raising children with developmental or other
disabilities are as diverse a group as any other, so I'm sure that we have
our fair share of people with mental illness. And they are probably
easy to find, if politicians want examples. But the families I've met are
quite honest and responsible. We all just want what is best for our children.
And we need all the help we can get.
Thanks for the support you give.
SE of Seattle
bb053 at scn.org
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