Monday, November 12, 2007

The speech evaluation

I have been avoiding this topic, and doing a damn good job of it I think. Especially because Ryan is going on a two hour nap so we know its almost over and I'll have to stop. There is no excuse other than I have been processing the information, and dealing with it. So I begin with the fact that I know its not that bad, please don't tell me things could be worse. I know that, I promise you I know that. I have a happy, healthy little man. I am thankful ( I promise) that he doesn' t have some terrible disease. Its a speech delay...a bump in the road. But why am I teary eyed as I type this? I think there are a lof of possible reasons, but the hardest has been having a professional tell me my little man isn't perfect. Now, I already knew he wasn't perfect. I spent a year getting up every 2 hrs...that is less than perfection, but there is something about having someone else say he isn't perfect and then having to agree with them. And by perfect I guess I mean "age appropriate."

First, I must say I am grateful to Early Start. This is a free program through the state that does evaluations for all sorts of "disabilities." Oh yes, that is another thing. I got a pamphlet on my disabled child and I wanted to scream. I know its all red tape and he has to have a label to get the free services, but still, it stings. Anyway, Early Start was a better option than going through our insurance--no referrals, no co-pays, no driving 45 minutes to the nearest therapist. When I called in August Ryan was 22 months with 0 words. ZERO. So, I really thought by the time they got here, 2 days before his birthday and him having at least 25 words, we were on the track to "all is fine."

Not so much. Backtrack...they sent three therapists and a case worker to our home which was great. Ryan was in his environment. There was a speech/language therapist, a fine/gross motor skills therapist, a behavior/cognitive therapist, and a case worker. They sat in a circle and did all sort of play things with Ryan while asking me questions. They were all so nice and friendly. I'm not just saying that. I felt at ease. But when it came to the end, Ryan scored a 12-15 month score in his expressive language. He was in the normal range for EVERYTHING else (including receptive language) which was 21-24 months. Now, I have to say that even shocked me because I consider him more "advanced" in his motor skills. He's been walking since he was 10 months and jumps on that trampoline like no one's business. He rarely falls, has good coordination, etc. Ofcourse its fine to be average, I was just surprised.

During the speech portion, the therapist would ask things like "have you noticed------?" My answer was usually no. No, I didn't notice he focuses more on vowels. No, I didn't notice he can use a consanant in the middle of a word, but can't use the same letter at the beginning. No, I didn't notice most of his 25 words are "situational." The guilt was creeping in...what kind of mom am I? How did I miss that? But then, a rational thought came over me. These rational thoughts are getting spooky (like when I didn't freak out that Ethan wrecked the car). I recognized that she has a nice little chart in front of her and she is marking stuff off. This is her job. She is supposed to notice this, I'm not. I'm the mom. I'm the cheerleader. I'm the one jumping up and down when he says a new word that I can understand. I'm not one for the technical.

So, Ryan qualified for therapy once a week, and it should be starting next month here at the house. He will do therapy for 6 months, then get re-evaluated. Another plan will be written if he needs more therapy, and if he is still in the program at age 3 he can go to an Early Start preschool. It really was a lot to take in, right before his birthday. That was also the same day the dogs ate the bread and I thought one of our dogs was going to die...and I lost it that night. I cried. I think I scared Ethan, but handling stress is not one of my better qualities lately.

The extra good news is that they did an autism screen and he was fine. The initial hearing test they performed was fine too. Anyway, we made it through 3 parties in 1 week (2 for Ryan, one for my sister in law the vet tech) and I'm physically and emotionally tired. But I cannot end this sounding so bummed so I'll share Ryan's new favorite word = POP, as in lollipop. He wakes up at 6am asking for a pop, and goes to bed at 7:30 asking for a pop. Its hilarious. And when he actually gets one the smile on his face is fantastic. He also is addicted to "oduce" (orange juice) lately which has made for some nasty diapers...but thats another story. All I can say is my kid loves him some fruit.


Judy, Rich, Molly, and Leo said...

Glad we are in the know now. Early Start sounds fantastic! I had no idea about this program. Oh, and btw, you are definitely not alone. I think it is really really common with boys speaking later. ALTHOUGH-I do know a few little gals who are delayed (or so it seems) as well. I will pass along this info. Thank you for sharing.
I know it must be hard to hear that from strangers. This will all be a memory someday when he reads his acceptance letter to Dartmouth (or wherever). Hang in there. =)

Chelle, Mike, Max, and Maggie said...

I've always been on the other side of this conversation so I can't say I know how you feel but I can say 6 months from now when you thank your therapist because Ryan is average or above she will feel like a million bucks and so will you :o)

Chelle, Mike, Max, and Maggie said...

Oh but I can say the teacher at Max's school said he was having trouble following the rules i.e. circle time, standing in line etc. And I was shocked to hear my baby was less than perfect so I guess it's a little similar. But I was able to find an out in that he'd only been to school 5 times and the other kids had been there 3 months! See, we all see what we want and/or need. That's why moms are great because they love you no matter what and always think you are the best kid ever! So - you are a great mom and, of course, Ryan is " your perfect kid"!

Maria said...

I will totally be your sympathetic shoulder!
We have been going to speech for over a month now and it is just what we needed. We didn't do the in-home eval (wasn't given as an option), we went to the C3 office in Oside. It's also a state program and a partner to Early Start. We got our referral and see Miss Becky once a week. If it were up to me, we would go two or three times a week!
Andy's vocab is increasing daily and more importantly, so is the retention. He's also starting to engage more in "nonpreferred" activities, like circle time and taking turns.
We're still not sure if he doesn't fully understand the function of language or if there is an issue between his brain and his mouth. But regardless, it is hard to know that your child may not be the smartest cookie ever. That, humbly, he may be average or only slightly above. I'm just so glad we started when we did and that there is hope for him to start preschool on time!
Ryan will get there too!