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That Time I Defaced My Son's Developmental Questionnaire

A few weeks back I realized that my son never had his 2-year-old well check. Whoops. Somewhere in the chaos of¬†sleep studies¬†and¬†trach removal¬†and clinic appointments, I just plain forgot to schedule it. But since practicing a better-late-than-never parenting philosophy seems to be working out so far, I went ahead and made the appointment (nine months late) to coincide with his little sister’s 1-month checkup.

Two birds. One stone. No problem.

Except for one little thing ‚Äď one¬†teeny¬†problem I’d completely forgotten about: the¬†Ages & Stages Questionnaire (or ‚ÄúASQ‚Ä̬†if you’re short on time).

A photo of the ASQ-3 24 Month Questionnaire

Some of you may remember¬†my last run in with this little monster,¬†but for those of you who don’t, let me enlighten you. The¬†ASQ¬†is given to parents to complete before their little one’s well check. It’s a screening tool designed to identify and pinpoint developmental delays in children. In other words (for you parents of children with special needs) it’s a soulless torture device made up of questions that can only be described as highly presumptuous and borderline absurd.

Pardon my French, but this test is a fart face of the highest caliber.

The questions make it¬†impossible¬†to ignore the things my child¬†can’t¬†do. In fact, it was created to¬†highlight¬†each and every¬†can’t¬†while assuming so many¬†cans¬†that just don’t apply to us. For example, it doesn’t say, ‚ÄúCan your child jump?‚ÄĚ Instead, it says, ‚ÄúWhen¬†your child jumps, does he lift both feet off the ground?‚ÄĚ What a jerk, amiright?

A photo of the author's son in a wheelchair with the thought bubble, "Do wheelies count?"

I’ll admit, the form is extremely helpful for catching delays in typically developing children but, when your child’s delays are¬†already¬†identified, the ASQ is mainly helpful for crushing your spirit and leaving you to perish in a steaming puddle of your own tears. If your positive outlook is like a slug, then the ASQ is like a pound of table salt. It melts away your good feelings until they’re nothing but a sticky mess on the pavement grossing out your mom (at least that’s how it worked when I was a kid).

Which brings me to last week when the friendly receptionist handed me my son’s well check forms. Tucked inside was the dreaded developmental questionnaire, which I shoved to the bottom of the stack and actively ignored. Truth be told, I’m pretty sure I could have left it blank. Our doctor would understand and besides, there wasn’t much it could tell us that we didn’t already know. I could have ignored it completely. I considered doing just that. But then I got to thinking‚Ķ

I thought about all those ridiculous questions. About gross motor and fine motor and jumping and stringing pasta necklaces. I thought about my son and why all this stuff is so important and why sometimes, maybe, it¬†isn’t.¬†I thought about it until I got tickled and then my tickles turned into giggles and my giggles turned into big maniacal chuckles.

What if I didn’t take this thing so seriously?

What if I laughed in the face of all those nevers and can’ts and shoulds?

What if, instead of letting the ASQ control my feelings, I controlled the ASQ?

So, after the little ones were (glory of glories) both asleep for the night, I grabbed a pen, sat down at the table, and got to work.

Suck a lemon, ASQ.¬†I‚Äėm going to make you fun if it kills me.
(And, yes, the following is indeed the copy I turned in at the doctor’s office.)

Looks like these kids need a makeover…

A photo of the Ages & Stages Questionnaire

That’s more like it‚Ķ


Image of a child sitting in a drawn-on wheelchair holding a sign that says "That's how I roll"

Good question…

Note added to ASQ: "We have never seen him walk, run, or climb, so I'm not sure. He has chosen to abstain from these activities as a form of protest against his mother's long-time ban on nose picking."

Note added to ASQ: He uses teleportation (answering the question: "If your child wants something she cannot reach, does she find a chair or box to stand on to reach it (for example, to get a toy on a counter or to 'help' you in the kitchen)?"

And of course, his very own addendum (just like last time). Because the other questions are a grossly inadequate representation of his greatness…

"Addendum for Simeon," a list written on the ASQ

I own you, ASQ. Eat. My. Shorts.

Special needs or not, I think everyone deserves their own specialized questionnaire. So tell me parents, what questions would be on your¬†kid’s addendum? Are they a phenomenal dancer? An expert ice-cream sampler? A wheelie-popping-daredevil? (Or, if you’re not a parent, what questions would be on an addendum made specifically for you?)

This post originally appeared on What Do You Do, Dear?