To be honest, I was dreading Sunshine’s speech therapy evaluation on Thursday. After her less-than-enthusiastic approach to physical therapy, I was pretty well convinced that speech would be the same. The 7 months of PT was just not a likable experience despite our amazing and thoughtful therapist. Sunshine doesn’t take well to new people … she hasn’t since we brought her home. And I’m 100% ok with that, even though it makes many situations uncomfortable. But she’s 3 months palate repair post-op now and I knew that at this point, I was simply dragging my feet on scheduling it. It was definitely time for it. So the evaluation was scheduled. During nap time, naturally.
Although timid and not willing to “perform” at first, I was happily shocked to see that Sunshine began opening up and interacting with the therapists. She had a speech therapist and a special needs educator here to evaluate her and both brought lots of fun toys to keep her interest. Before we knew it, Sunshine was very interested in what cool tricks the therapists had up their sleeves. She easily answered their questions and passed many of their tests with flying colors, despite her non-verbal communication. She was even able to demonstrate mastery of a few 3-year-old level skills! They said multiple times, “Oh, she’s very smart.” Of course we know that already, but it’s nice to hear that reinforcement. They also commented that she had a large attention span (read: she is very determined and doesn’t stop until she “gets it”), based on how long she stuck with one task. She’s still hasn’t mastered several other “younger” skills though, so she qualified as over 25% delayed in several categories. She also automatically qualified for services because of her cleft.
After 90 minutes of “playing” and questions, here is the breakdown of her assessment at 28 months old:
Cognitive (playing, thinking, and exploring): 26 months
Communication (understanding others and expressing herself): 20 months
Social or Emotional (emotions, feelings, interacting with others): 22 months
Adaptive (eating, drinking, toileting, and doing for herself): 19 months
Fine Motor (using my hands for play, feeding or other activity): 22 months
Gross Motor (moving her body to change position or location): 22 months
They assessed her at 20 months for communication (which was much older than I thought she’d score) because of how good her receptive language is (what she understands) in combination with her expressive communication through sign. They said that without these 2 factors, her assessment would have been much lower. They also said that her receptive language and ASL knowledge were so significant, that they just couldn’t ignore it for the assessment. (Yay for ASL!) Some of their reasoning for other parts of the assessment I question a little, simply because I know that all children learn and master new skills at their own pace … so I have a difficult time with boxing Sunshine into certain categories. But either way, extra help is always a good thing!
So we worked up a bunch of goals and someone will be in touch with me to start scheduling therapy! We’ll most likely have speech therapy once a week and then meet with a special needs educator about once a month to help with the non-verbal stuff. I also want to share another suggestion they gave me:
Because she can successfully use the consonant “m” (seriously, ask anyone who is around her for more than 5 minutes … mama, mama, MAAMAAA, maaaa, MA!!!!), they suggested working with her to use the “m” sound to make more words … any kind of words. “Mooo” for cow, “more,” “me” … anything with a “m” that makes a sound. They said that repetition is absolutely key here. So that’s what we’ve been working on for the last few days, and we’ve had some very positive results! She has a difficult time putting the “m” sound and the next sound together to make one fluid word, but she is creating the sounds separately. I’ll take that progress for now! Right now, I am focusing on “me” and “more” … she is responding positively, so I’ll continue on that track.
This speech therapy thing is all new territory for me, so if any other BTDT mamas have any advice, I am all ears! I would love any suggestions you could offer.