Clare had her six-month evaluation with Easter Seals today. Her OT, PT, and a speech therapist (along with a student shadowing our PT) came to our house and spent the afternoon with us. I had the joy of 1) observing Clare's evaluation while pretending to not observe so Clare would not be distracted while 2) making sure Jamie stayed out of everyone's way while at the same time making him feel involved and useful and not missing out on the fun while 3) entertaining, breastfeeding, rocking, swinging, bouncing Simon while 4) answering loads of questions about Clare's current activities while lastly 5) overseeing the furniture repairman who was repairing a gouge in our new bunk bed set. It was a challenging afternoon for all involved!
Clare continues to lag behind when it comes to gross motor skills. She is currently at a 12-14 month level, which is up from her pre-walking 10-month level at her June evaluation, but still very low. I know Clare’s hurdles are that she does not climb. She cannot run or jump, has trouble on uneven surfaces, does not do stairs, and cannot even manage stepping up and down on curbs. She even panics when faced with a low threshold that she has never encountered. She has the three floors of our house down pat, but wants to hold hands when at someone else’s house and needs to step from a carpet to wood floor (which has an almost nonexistent difference in height). We are working on the stairs and encouraging her to step up and down alone, but she prefers to be carried.
All evaluators noted Clare's difficulty with visual perception and focus. We will be exploring in the near future having her seen by the special developmental opthamologist and researching vision therapy. There are pages I could write about everything they noted in that area. Bottom line is that Clare is having trouble, and we are going to try to fix it!!
Clare’s speech and fine motor skills are more at a 24-month level. Her vocabulary has exploded, and she chats all the time (about 50% is understandable). The cats and baby dolls get lots of scoldings these days (apparently there is a lot of biting going on in the house because I hear many “no bites” and see frequent finger-shakings at animals and dolls – I do feel bad for them because the time-out spot of choice is in the play kitchen oven). Clare has started telling knock knock jokes. Okay, she has a repertoire of one, but I am pretty impressed with it, especially since she came up with it all by herself:
Clare: Knock knock
The speech therapist noted that although Clare can manage almost all the consonant sounds, she has a lot of soft sounds (such as soft “b” and “p”). She foresees that Clare will definitely have speech therapy added to her schedule once she starts school.
On the positive side, Clare is at age-appropriate levels in her receptive language skills and self-help skills. We were very pleased to hear this (even though we knew she was doing well in those areas). Following Dr. Mervis’ advice in not coddling Clare, we are encouraging her to be more independent and do things for herself. She sleeps in a bottom bunk bed now, helps with dressing and undressing, brushes her teeth, washes in the bathtub, and has recently started potty-training (very recent, many M&M bribes, and Elmo is learning, too). Clare is slightly afraid of our small potty, so we are taking it slow. But it is gratifying to hear that our hard work is paying off in that Clare is where she should be in that area. These are the skills that Dr. Mervis said will make a difference in Clare’s adult life. We are even experimenting with no more coddling when it comes to food. Clare is served what the rest of the family eats and we go from there. I have seen her eat things I thought she would not be able to eat, and now we are wondering how much of Clare’s eating frustrations are due to her oral motor skills and how much are due to her wanting her own way.
The next step is for the school district to review Clare’s evaluation and set up their own. We were told they will most likely want at least an evaluation by an educator, since there was no educator present at today’s evaluation. Whether the school department wants OT, PT, and speech evals is up in the air. We should be notified about 6 weeks before Clare’s third birthday when her evaluation with the school’s team will be. Then there will be classroom placement, IEP writing, and more. We are at 10 weeks and counting until Clare starts preschool. A date that seemed so far in the future is now looming closer and closer.