School · Self-Reflection

I Can See The Finish Line! Reflection on Spring 2021 Semester

Unlike my other school reflection posts, this will only include one class. That is because I only took one class during the Spring 2021 semester. With the exception of Software Engineering 1 and Advanced Web Developments, classes I have taken that are not a core class are not offered every semester. The other lecture class I am required to take is only offered in the fall and I will be taking my final lecture class in Fall 2021.

Software Testing and Maintenance: I kind of liked this class. I was a test engineer in a previous job and I loved the repetitiveness and explicitness of what to do. However, I feel like this class did a little more theory work than I expected. Yes, Computer Science focuses on theory. Yes, this class was one of the more hands-on classes I took. Did I want more hands-on work? Of course! This class helped me to fully understand the concept of creating unit tests. Even the job training bootcamp I did for a low-paying programmer job years ago didn’t teach this. The only thing I truly didn’t like about the class was having a project suddenly sprung up on us. If you read my posts about my neurodivergence, I like being prepared ahead of time. Usually, professors I had will tell you in the syllabus about a project so you’re not caught off guard. The sudden project was stressful for me because I was also working on my graduate project proposal and a homework assignment for this class.

Final Grade: A-

Overall GPA: 3.365

Okay, let me say a couple of things. One, I expected a B or a B+ in that class so I’m very surprised with the A-. My grades from this school year (2 A-s and a B) are definitely big improvements over my 2019-2020 school year (3 Bs and a C). I had the goal to keep my grades up and I ended up improving my GPA! For grad school, you need at least a 3.0 GPA to graduate. I’m going to definitely do my best my final semester because I am considering getting a Doctorate at the same university after taking a break and though the program does not have a minimum GPA requirement, I want to make sure I don’t jeopardize things.

Fall 2021 will be my final semester in the Master’s program. I’m so happy to be almost done because I am tired of people at my church asking me when I’m done. I know it took me much longer than two years to get to the end, but do I have to be judged for it? I will need to apply for my December graduation by August 15th. However, I will be changing my last name some time in July so I am unsure whether to apply for graduation now or wait until I change my name and have my new name documented at my university.


The Path to a Neuropsychological Evaluation: Part 3 (Evaluation)

Please find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Part 1 mainly talks about the timeline of noticing different neurodivergent aspects of myself and part 2 mainly talks about my (virtual) intake session with my evaluator.

I apologize for this post appearing long after the beginning of May. I had two days of evaluations plus other later days for more questionnaires. Before we get started with talking about my evaluation, there are some things I need to point out.

  1. This neuropsych evaluation was to evaluate me for autism or possibly Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder. An evaluation for another neuropsych condition will not look the same.
  2. This was my autism evaluation. Your experience may be different, especially since I was evaluated at a center that customizes the tests based on what was discussed at intake.
  3. I will not tell you in detail what goes on in each test I had to do. If I do, it may influence you to take your test a specific way in order to get the diagnosis you want. I don’t know if other evaluation centers say this specifically, but the evaluators where I went are explicitly trained to stop tests and discard all scores if it becomes obvious that someone studied ahead of time, especially if this is testing to get into a special program or school for gifted children.

My evaluation occurred over two days (plus additional later days). Sometimes it can be done in one day, but I took so long with the IQ test that we didn’t exactly have enough time to do everything in one day.

The first test I did was an IQ test. The IQ test comprised of many different parts. For someone with an IQ in the average range, it will take you about 90 minutes. However, it took me about (or maybe more than) 2.5 hours. This is because I consistently was making it all the way to the end of each section where the hardest stuff occurs. I don’t know my actual IQ yet as some parts of the test were done on paper, but it was in this IQ test that I learned I fall within the range of being intellectually gifted. Most of my IQ test was done using an iPad app that is connected to my evaluator’s iPad. Many years ago, IQ tests were solely done using paper and a pencil. If your child is taking an IQ test, reassure them that they should do the best they can and not worry about getting every question right.

After a snack break (and stretching my legs because of how long I was sitting), there was the interview portion. My parents were brought in and we talked about things relating to my childhood. My evaluator used the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R) to gather my history. On the second day of evaluation, my evaluator asked me more questions that were a part of the ADI-R.

Next, the evaluator asked me about the meaning of figurative phrases. My brain wasn’t in the best state as there were a lot of things that had gone wrong on my ride to my second day of evaluation, so that made things not as fun. Some of the phrases were phrases even my evaluator never heard of! Just do the best you can to figure out the meaning of phrases you have never heard of.

After that was some executive functioning testing. It involved paper and pencil as well as doing something on an iPad. Again, I will not tell you what things I did for that test as you will probably try to prep ahead of time. You may recognize one portion of the test from other online sites, though. I know I have seen it many many years ago.

Anything after this may not be in the correct order, but that’s okay. We did some memory testing where I had to recall things I heard and I surprisingly did better than I thought! You see, my memory regarding recalling what I read is not that great, but I apparently do better when recalling things I hear. That’s odd because it often doesn’t feel that way at work. That’s why my primary care doctor thought I may have ADHD. After doing some more unrelated tests, I had to do memory recall again to test how much I remember. This is to test how much you can recall despite a time lapse and doing other activities.

At some point (not sure when), there was an activity with 20 pictures and I would have to guess what picture my evaluator was thinking of in as little questions as possible. Sounds like Guess Who, right?

Once that was done, my evaluator pulled out a lot of pictures and I had to tell what was happening, describe how people were feeling, and what I predict will happen. This part was honestly the most mentally exhausting part of the evaluation as I didn’t know how many pictures out of that big stack I was going to have to talk about. We did not do all of the pictures, thank goodness. I think this and the ADI-R were done in place of the commonly-used Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). This is good because I discovered Purple Ella through their adult autism assessment video and they fully describe what they did in the ADOS.

Next, I had to do a questionnaire regarding social things. Depending on your age, the questionnaire about yourself may be different. As I am an adult, I got an adult self questionnaire. Meanwhile, my mom was in the lobby working on the adult questionnaire that a parent or relative does. Now will all parents of adult neuropsychology clients need to do a questionnaire and interview? Probably not always, but I wasn’t driving myself so it was probably something for them to do. As my parents missed so many things, I worry about whether that will affect my diagnosis.

I also did an emotional questionnaire, which I feel is important due to my emotional regulation issues. Some people get misdiagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder due to emotional regulation issues, though emotional dysregulation can be found in people with ADHD and autism as well. I was not in the office when I did this questionnaire, but I did it online with my evaluator as some of the questions are known to be confusing to people. It was so many questions too!

The final thing I have to do is an anxiety questionnaire. Like the emotional questionnaire, I did this online. However, I will this on my own instead of with my evaluator. I don’t think this is typical in a neuropsychological evaluation, but I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder so my evaluator wants to get a clear picture of my anxiety.

Now that everything’s over, what is my final diagnosis? Is it Autism Spectrum Disorder like I thought, Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder like my evaluator suspects, or something else? See you in the final part of this blog series The Path to a Neuropsychological Evaluation.