Although much has improved since my December post, Brooks is still having a tough time in first grade.

As we await the results of his annual psycho-educational evaluation, which includes an IQ test, I find myself caring less and less about the results. This will not make me popular, I know, especially in this Gifted-&-Talented-centric town, but I can’t help myself. I’ve been reading unflattering clinical paperwork about my autistic son for the lion’s share of his lifetime, and although these tests have helped us to clearly identify his challenges and therefore identify interventions to help him, they do not define him. They always threaten to, especially when the ink on the report is fresh, but sooner or later, we come to the realization that Brooks is the same boy he was before the test. And his father and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

For better or worse, we continue to operate with our own personal shortlist of what’s most important about our son’s development, with full awareness that our priorities are well outside the scope of what any standardized test could measure. We want Brooks to grow up to be an independent, responsible, and social adult, and we want to make sure he’s able to contribute his talents to the world. And when we measure him by these standards, the ones that really make sense to us, he scores pretty high.

Last week, I introduced Brooks to The Sound of Music. I told him how when I was a little girl, my mom directed the musical at our local synagogue: I was Marta, my Dad was Captain Von Trapp, and all my sisters and cousins were in it too. Brooks loved hearing this family history and had a lot of questions. As we watched the film, I didn’t stop to worry about whether he was “getting it” on the same level as another first grader—I know he followed the story enough to feel sad when Maria left the children to return to the Abbey, and happy when Maria helped them ride out the frightening thunderstorm. I’m not interested in holding Brooks to any external standards: as always, he is moving at his own pace and we are meeting him where he is.

Over the past year, his athletic ability has skyrocketed. When my husband took him to our local Y mainstream soccer class, Brooks, without any hesitation, started kicking the ball around with the other kids—he even scored a goal! Granted, the Y is familiar to him and he knows the teacher, but he didn’t know the kids, and there’s no question about how far he’s come since the last time we tried a soccer class.

And perhaps most important to us, Brooks has been honing his sense of humor. The other night, he asked his dad to come check on him after bedtime. As I sat in the living room, I heard laughter and my husband called: “Come look at your son.” Turns out Brooks was lying on his back with his eyes closed, wearing a red clown nose. The only part of him that was moving were his shoulders going up and down with uncontrollable guffaws.

My husband and I never cared about IQ—we always wanted an imaginative, funny, affectionate and intelligent child. Which, in spite of the autism, is exactly what we got.


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