Sunday, May 20, 2012

Early Intervention Part 1 - Evaluations

Daddy will help you along the way
By Joel Brens

Comparisons, in a general sense, can be dangerous. As a parent that is very true when speaking about development of your children. Everyone learns at a different pace. As most of you know my son was born seven weeks early. While we watched him get strong during our 25 day stay in the NICU we were told to expect delays in development. We were told that generally you get an idea of where your child is at once they turn the age of two. While I'm sure all parents worry about a child's progress it's a whole new ballgame when it is considered the norm.

While Jayden was a little bit behind with things like crawling, standing up and walking, it wasn't enough to concern me. We had quarterly meetings with a member of the county health department. She always seemed relatively pleased with his progress. That was always good enough for me. But over the past 6 months our daycare provider was staring to vocalize some concerns that he might need to be re-evaluated. She has worked with kids for over two decades and while I was angry at first, in the back of my mind I knew she could be right. Every day we try to teach Jayden new words. His vocabulary hasn't expanded much past "Ma-ma" "Da-da" "Bye-Bye" and "Baby". He has said other things once or twice but hasn't put it together. After trying some simple changes in his daily routine, as suggested by our daycare provider, not much had changed. Despite already knowing the answer to the question, I asked "Think it's time for an eval?" She nodded yes. She said the worst thing that can happen is to wait too long and look back with regret that something hadn't been done earlier. That evening we set up an evaluation with a developmental therapist and speech therapist.

Last Wednesday night I had a horrible time trying to rest. My mind was absolutely racing. Our first meeting was Thursday morning with the DT. When she arrived I was a nervous wreck . How was Jayden going to react? Was he going to surprise us all? We watched as Jayden played with a simple puzzle with ease. But the second she took it away he started throwing a fit. She tried other toys and asked simple questions to see how he'd react. He would respond but usually it took a painful amount of time to happen. The therapist would ask us questions and my wife and I would interrupt one another trying to paint Jayden in a light perhaps he wasn't. As she was writing her observations down my stomach was in knots. About half way through the eval I had to leave for work. I told my wife to text me when they were done. While going about my business at work I heard my phone buzz. It read "He qualifies. She said that he is in line developmentally with a 12-13 month old. She also said that his left foot is a bit pigeon toed so physical therapy may be needed too... :- ("

Our son will be two in less than three weeks. I had a hard time reading that. It took every ounce of me to keep my emotions in check. I was a mess inside. The county evaluator said he was doing great in November. How the hell did she not see this? I expected to hear he was behind, but the idea of it being close to a year was like a punch in the gut. I cried to myself. A couple of times. I have the good fortune of working with some pretty cool people. They said a bunch of nice things to try to cheer me up, but the reality is that none of them had personal experience with EI. Luckily I was able to leave work a little early and get in touch with people who have been there. Hearing "That fact he qualifies is a GOOD thing, now he can get the help he needs" was what I needed to hear, despite not considering that at first.

Just Monday evening the speech therapist was over to evaluate. While I was still nervous and held my breath, I wasn't surprised or devastated to hear she felt the same way about his progress. We have a long road ahead of us. We meet on May 8th to hear the teams plan moving forward. Rather than consider this an obstacle we will take on this opportunity with open arms. I am proud of my son and he will no doubt do amazing things in his life. But like most things in life, you have to take it one step at a time.   

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