If It’s Tuesday, It Must be the ADOS

So today, when I headed off to work, the kids went with the wife to head down the hill to Kennedy Krieger for yet another research study.

I don’t know, myself, just how many times now that they’ve each taken the ADOS (the “Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule” for those of you not in the know) – I think that the baby’s had it once, perhaps, since he’s minimally verbal as one might expect from a fifteen month old, but the Monster’s easily had it five times now.

Since he first started taking the ADOS, he’s slowly migrated up to the next module as his language has come in a bit more.  It’s not really that much progress, but I suppose that any forward progress is good progress.

In theory, these studies that he’s in are to track a couple of things regarding Autism – evaluations of his progress, trying out different methods of teaching, evaluating what a child with Autism picks up in a given ‘game’ compared with an NT child… and at times, I think he’s really thrown the researchers for a loop.  But my largest concern is actually how frequently he’s exposed to the ADOS as a whole.

See, the Monster’s very intelligent, even if he’s really not as verbal as he ought to be.  He can pull back things he’s heard months and years before – songs, scripts, etc – and he clearly can remember being places or how to maneuver around an environment even when he’s not been to a given place in a very long time.  So to me, exposing him to a test means that he’s increasingly likely to recall what’s ‘expected’ of the game involved when it’s given again at some future date, and that heightens my concern that he’s going to game the system and look “better” than he really is.

(And he really does understand the concept of rules and games, and remembers them.  If he can figure out that yelling “time for potty!” gets him out of time-out, or that there’s a playground off to one specific side of the club house at his grandfather’s housing complex, he can remember the birthday-party-game and various patterns of blocks.)

I don’t know if anyone else has run into this situation, since I’ve actually never talked to other parents of children with Autism to find out if they’re in the same studies, but… I don’t think it’s just something in my head…

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