We are home from our road trip! Lots and lots of visiting family, hours in the car, and information loaded into ten days.
We spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with my grandparents in West Virginia. My older sister came down with us and my mom flew in as well, so we were surrounded by family. We were able to leave Jamie with my mom and sister at my grandparents while we took Clare to Louisville, Kentucky (and, of course, Simon) to meet Dr. Mervis. There is so much to tell, it would take an exceedingly long post and no one wants to read that. So I will try to keep it brief!
After two days of various tests and assessments, Dr. Mervis concluded that Clare is doing very well cognitively. Dr. Mervis stated that Clare's receptive language skills are "exceptional" - one of the best she has ever seen in a child with Williams syndrome of Clare's age. In fact, Clare tested "average" as compared to typical children her age. Her verbal skills are "very good" compared to children with Williams syndrome, and she tested "low average" as compared to typical children. All news we were thrilled to hear. I had prepared myself for a scolding that Clare was not receiving any formal speech therapy. On the contrary, Dr. Mervis was very impressed with Clare's language skills and told us to keep up whatever we are doing. She encouraged lots of labeling, reading stories, and continuing to build Clare's vocabulary.
Dr. Mervis' assistant noted that Clare is a "good indicator." At first, I had no idea what she meant then realized that it was because Clare points out objects, shows you stuff, knows what she wants. I liked The Indicator as Clare's superhero name. I wonder what her special power would be.
Dr. Mervis did note that Clare is delayed in her non-verbal reasoning skills and mastery motivation. She is easily frustrated, does not always like to finish a task to completion, and gives up easily. Dr. Mervis feels that much of Clare's temper tantrums are due to her lack of non-verbal reasoning skills. Instead of being able to make a choice in her head, Clare simply throws a fit. She recommended lots of positive attention and praise for just trying, even if not succeeding. Activities such as puzzles and matching games will help Clare build up those skills. Hopefully by helping Clare learn to make choices, consider options, not giving up, and express herself verbally, we can lessen her tantrums. We're already using the phrase "use your words, Clare" over and over (one of those annoying "parent phrases" you hear, but then find yourself uttering!). And Clare is responding. She now says "help, please" or "help, Mama" if she needs assistance instead of issuing a high-pitched noise of frustration.
Dr. Mervis was satisfied with the quantity of Clare's therapies right now. She recommended that once Clare is in school, she should have OT, PT, and speech in school with an additional hour of OT per week in an outpatient setting. I admit that I was partially dreading this trip to see Dr. Mervis because I was afraid of what she would have to say about Clare. To hear her say that Clare As she put it, "Clare will not get dumber." Intellectually, she is more than capable of holding a job, live independently of her parents, and maintain relationships. It's now up to us to encourage, support, and give Clare those self-help skills to live in this big, big world. And in the immediate future, goals such as preschool, potty-training, and transitioning out of her crib are in the forefront.
On the way home, we stopped at my younger sister's in New Jersey for a couple days. It was neat seeing her apartment with her new husband. (It's still slightly weird to think of my sister as grown-up and married, even though she is only two years younger than me.) The whole family was excited to finally arrive home late Sunday night. We were exhausted by the end of the trip, as I am sure my family was as well! Ten days with three little ones when you are not used to it (or are used to it!) is a whole new experience. But I am glad we made the trip, and we are very satisfied with the feedback we received from Dr. Mervis.