Crunchy Thoughts

The thoughts are crunchier here.

summer of sam

As far as summers go, Sam has had a decently eventful one, albeit in fits and spurts. Now that we are slowly lumbering into fall (it’s October yet it’s a balmy 84 degrees outside, what gives?) perhaps I can sum everything up to my satisfaction.

Last July Sam went through a series of evaluations at the Civitan Sparks Clinic in downtown Birmingham, an organization that evaluates developmental and learning disorders. We had been on the waiting list for a good year; I had almost forgotten about it. Steven and I have never really worried that Sam has some sort of earth-shattering major delay, he just kinda seems . . . Aspergerish. By the time we heard back from the clinic with a testing date, we debated canceling the whole thing. Sam is fine. He talks. He’s happy. Why worry? In the end we went through with it since, hey, year-long waiting list, dude, and we were at the top.

The evaluations were spread across two separate days, one in July and the other in August. There were meetings with every kind of specialist under the sun. At the end of both days Sam crashed in the car on the way home — he was worn out! For some of the meetings I got to watch Sam through a mirror while he wiggled around and charmed everyone. During the hearing evaluation he sat in a sound-proof room while the specialist talked to him through a set of headphones. Every time she would ask him to do something he would reply, “Okay, Mommy!”

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The hardest evaluation for Sam was the occupational therapy meeting. He became very frustrated with himself while trying to draw shapes and cut with scissors. The other test he struggled with was the hearing evaluation. Two hearing tests on both days showed some hearing loss with low tones and some pressure in his middle ears.

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The hearing test results had us back at the ENT to be re-evaluated. Unfortunately, Sam’s ENT that installed his tubes in 2011 had left the practice, so we were stuck with Lydia’s ENT, who is a good doctor but has a very clipped manner. As with Lydia’s time at the ENT, poor Sam and I ended up being stuck in a 9 x 9 waiting room with a little television that played episodes of Jessie from the Disney Channel nonstop, with no remote to be found.

For two and a half hours.

By the time the ENT came in — “Hi, I’m Dr. Hill; he definitely needs tubes; any questions?” — I had resigned to let Sam play with the up and down buttons in the examination chair, mentally daring any nurse to come in and tell us to stop.

So suddenly — tubes! And adenoids! Surgery! This was taken care of a mere week later. Since we had already done the whole tubes thing twice before, the third time didn’t feel so taxing or seem to take as long. The hardest part was trying to keep a very hungry Sam distracted and amused while we waited. A hungry four year old is much tougher to handle than a hungry one year old. By mid-morning, tubes were installed and adenoids removed so we headed home, where Sam vegged on the couch.


After the ENT sidetrack, we were back at the Sparks Clinic a few weeks ago for all the results. All in all, Sam did very well. There’s only a few things that were of concern, and all of the ENT business took care of one of them. The next step for Sam is occupational therapy — he did not do well on that evaluation, especially with grasping and visual motor skills. We have already located a pediatric occupational therapist close by and our first visit was this Monday.

The step after that is getting evaluated with Citivan Sparks’ autism clinic, which is apparently a completely separate thing from all of this stuff we went through. The wait for that might be a year or more. Until then, we will work with the occupational therapist and just keep on keeping on. Judging by that first appointment, Sam is going to love occupational therapy. Even Lydia was a bit jealous she couldn’t jump on the trampoline and swing with Sam.

At the end of the day, none of this changes who Sam is as a person, or what we think about him. Hopefully, some of this knowledge will help us relate to him and help guide him through the rough patches. He’s still Sam — my orange-loving, wall-bouncing, girl-charming, dirt-digging, water-playing, self-contained amusement park of a boy.

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