April 16, 2009
Where do I begin?
On the one hand, I'm glad I never got around to writing that entry about all the fabulous leaps and bounds we've made with Noah over the past couple weeks -- at least not the version I had in mind, which was puff full of Confidence! We've Turned a Corner, Everything Is Fine Now! We're Totally Going To Rock This Evaluation Wheeeeeee!
(I just love setting myself up to look like a complete jackass on the Internet. I really do.)
On the other hand, I'm glad I at least mentioned it, because otherwise you'd all probably pelt me with your liquor bottles when I tell you Noah's results:
Motor: Failed. Spectacularly.
Vison: Passed. Non-surprisingly.
Hearing: Abstained. With EXTREME PREJUDICE. (Though his tympanogram looked fine.)
Cognitive/Educational Concepts: Passed, sort of. It's complicated. We'll say: Passed. With EXTREME ASTERISKS.
Ha ha ha ha. Wait. No. Sit down.
Speech: Passed. Spectacularly.
The speech therapist praised his articulation (ha ha ha), his ability to label objects and actions and answer questions, his spontaneous speech (which mostly consisted of elaborate protestations and declarations of woe, misery and the unfairness of life as he knows it) and finally admitted that she didn't understand why any concern was still being raised about his speech. He's FINE.
And I was all, "Yeah...I've been meaning to blog about that."
Noah's speech has EXPLODED over the last couple weeks. We have CONVERSATIONS with him. He tells jokes, he makes up stories, he answers your questions with honest-to-God actual answers instead of context-less scraps of dialogue from TV or books.
Last week, while we were away, he told me he was sad, that he wanted to go home, that he missed Daddy. When we went away a few months ago, he told me he was sad, but when I asked why he said something about 15 missing puppies and left it at that.
I don't know whether the leap coincided simply with inching closer to four years old, with reducing his preschool attendance, or our discovery that hey! You know how he really, really, really likes music? You think it would be nice if we played more music for him? How about I put my iPod in his room with a playlist of his favorite classical music and the Vince Guaraldi Trio for him to fall asleep and wake up to, or to go "chill out" to in lieu of endless "time outs?" Huh, I dunno, does he seem a little more centered and calmer to you, like his teacher maybe mentioned a few months ago, when she started playing background music during the day?
No, no. Hold your applause. We are not parental geniuses, we're just really, really slow on the uptake.
ANYWAY. The speech ruling did not come as a surprise, though it was still a huge, HUGE fucking relief to hear it.
It was our one small relief in an otherwise hellacious morning, however. You know it's bad when OTHER PARENTS in the screening clinic are giving YOU the "I'm glad that's not MY kid" looks.
I knew this situation was not going to be ideal. I knew it was going to trigger a lot of Noah's worst behaviors. I knew he wasn't going to move from station to stations easily or be interested in the assessment tools or willingly allow them to put headphones on him to test his hearing and I knew that was kind of the point.
I wasn't prepared for Noah being the ONLY kid having difficulties. I wasn't prepared to sit and watch three-year-old after three-year-old obediently leave their puzzles to go show the occupational therapist that they could stand on one leg while my kid howled, screamed, kicked and fought. I wasn't prepared to watch him fail so many activities -- can't copy a circle, can't hold scissors, can't shape clay, can't fasten a snap, can't catch a bounced ball, can't stand on one leg -- one right after the other. I wasn't prepared to see how many of his mastered skills fall to pieces in the face of his unease with structure, demands and transitions. I wasn't prepared for my sweet, loving, gentle little man to smack me -- repeatedly -- in front of the child psychologist.
The upshot: those damn sensory issues, man. We were aggressive with speech and it paid off. We allowed ourselves to be rattled and bullied by a terrible occupational therapist and are paying for that now. The OT today was shocked that Early Intervention graduated Noah on the basis of speech alone, when clearly he has significant motor delays. Follow-up recommended, check.
The special education teacher had the MOST success out of everyone when it came to coaxing cooperation from Noah, and even she was unable to fully complete her assessment. Her take: he's smart, very smart, but the level of non-compliance makes it appear that he doesn't know half of what he really knows, and his non-involvement and discomfort at school are causing him to shed skills and resist absorbing new ones. (When he started preschool he could count to 20 and recognize most numbers and letters of the alphabet. Now he can count to 10 and gets numbers and letters mixed up.) Basically, this is a smart kid on track to hating and underperforming in school because *something* else is going unaddressed. Follow-up recommended, check check.
(Whenever I write stuff like this I invariably get comments reminding me that "he's ONLY three!" like I need a refresher course on my kid's age, or like I'm expecting him to be mapping the human genome as opposed to sitting on the stupid blue carpet at preschool. I used to get the same comments when he was "ONLY two!" Does anyone know at what age people stop hassling you for trying to be proactive about your child's developmental and educational issues, or for taking advantage of early childhood programs that EXIST FOR A REASON? When he's ONLY four? Seven? When he's dropped out and knocking over convenience stores at ONLY 16?)
The school psychologist will be observing him at preschool, and we're going back for another (more thorough, less sensory-triggering, hopefully waaaay more enjoyable for Noah) assessment with the OT and special ed teacher at the end of this month. At that point, recommendations for services will be made. Check check, check.
I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry Daddy and I had to take you that place this morning, that place with all the cool toys that they only let you play with for a few minutes before whisking you away time and again to go play with less cool toys. I'm sorry that lady tried to put the beeping thing on your head. I'm sorry that other boy grabbed the elephant out of your hand but we made you share with him because we were too busy filling out forms to realize that he was the one who wasn't sharing. I'm sorry the little things are so hard for you. I'm sorry that I just don't understand sometimes.
I'm so proud of you. I'm so proud of you and your smart, wonderful, mysterious brain. I'm so proud of your good strong eyes that never miss a thing. I'm so proud of how far you've come and how well you talk now. I'm so proud of what a happy, confident boy you are, in spite of everything else.
I love you, Noah. I love hearing everything you have to say. I love your voice, your smile, the way I hear you humming along to the music in your room. I love how you manage to thoroughly charm people, even when you're making their job a little harder. I love how you always give me another chance to be a better Mommy, a more patient, fun and understanding Mommy, and how a rotten morning can still lead to a wonderfully sunny afternoon.
You're too amazing for this world, Noah. And that's our problem, not yours. Don't ever forget that.