Tuesday, March 29, 2016

When Bad News Isn't So Bad

Little things.  Quirks.  Mannerisms.  Like walking around with his head tilted to the side.

And then some bigger things too.  Not answering to his name, avoiding eye contact, not saying a single word.

When Paul was 18-months old and not talking, I passed it off as being the third child with verbose older siblings.  Gavin was a late talker, so it wasn't that big a deal.  But at 21 months I started to feel like I was in denial about... something...? that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  And by 22 months, when Paul stopped saying the one word he ever did have (Thank you), and wasn't even babbling anymore, I called the pediatrician.

Did you know that every single state has an early intervention program?  I did not realize, at all, that our child could qualify for state services for aid until my pediatrician told me to call Maryland's Infants and Toddlers program.  Picking up the phone to make that call - admitting out loud to the world that something was wrong - was the hardest part of beginning Paul's care.

I&T answered the phone with kindness and support, and that is a theme that has continued throughout my experience.  Fearing an Autism diagnosis, but hoping to hear my kid was just a late talker, I requested a speech evaluation to see if Paul would qualify for services, and they immediately suggested a hearing test.

A hearing test?  But Paul dances ALL THE TIME.  How could there be any issues with his hearing?  A week after scheduling the hearing test, Paul failed it.  He failed it hard. And I knew within 30 seconds of beginning the test that he would fail it.  By the time he turned his head to see where the hissing noise was coming from, I was ready to cover my own ears from the noise.  And when he did turn to look, he turned in the wrong direction.

But when the audiologist ended the test, I was almost laughing from relief.  Yes, relief!  Paul couldn't hear, and that's why he wasn't talking!!  Beyond that, the audiologist suggested that his problem seemed likely to be caused by fluid in his ears.  Even though he had never had an ear infection.  Fluid in his ears.  And that would explain the tipped head, as Paul was compensating for his balance.

A trip to the ENT later, Paul was scheduled for bilateral tubes and an adenoidectomy.  He had that surgery last week.  And while I was hoping for an overnight cure and a full vocabulary, I knew that was unlikely.  Even so, Paul is responding to his name.  He has completely stopped tipping his head to walk.  He is more involved.

Paul finally had his speech evaluation through I&T yesterday.  I was not surprised that he does qualify for speech therapy.  His language was rated as a 13-month old, which means he's only just experimenting with making consonant sounds.  He has a long road ahead.  BUT, and this is huge, of all the delays he has, they were entirely language based.  He didn't exhibit a single behavioral marker for anything like Autism, Asperger's, or any of those scary problems.  I still need to bring Paul back to the audiologist for a follow-up hearing test to make sure he doesn't have nerve damage in his ears.  But at the very worst, we have a child with mild hearing loss.  He's getting the care he needs, and he'll find the words he wants soon.

I am so thankful for Infants and Toddlers.  I do feel a little guilty that I didn't ask for an evaluation sooner, but I know he's a happy, loving, intelligent child.  I know Paul will do great things in this world.  And I am so happy for such wonderful bad news.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Seemingly Overnight

Five minutes drag by and suddenly a day has passed.  It's the same with children. I watch everyday to see how they grow. More often it's behavior: new words, better pronunciation, attempting to tell jokes, actions. But sometimes I can actually see them grow.  Seemingly overnight.  Poof! They're bigger.

It's the most amazing thing about motherhood so far. A shoe doesn't fit - overnight! A button pops, a dress just isn't quite long enough although it was last week, ankles show beneath too-short pant legs.  And still these are secondary reminders of the constant growth. We see the charts from one check up to the next, measured in percentiles from one year to the next.  50th percentile for height, 20th for weight, following her own growth curve... But what does that mean in real life?  What is the difference between x feet tall and x feet one inch?  

Sometimes, the difference of one inch is the difference between toddling safely under the kitchen table, and bonking a forehead on the edge as he tries to steal a snack.  Or fitting nicely under the tall kitchen counter, and smacking a temple into the corner as she runs past.

Every so often, we can see our children grow while the clock slowly ticks on.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Life lately

Life lately has been too good to blog.  Why blog when I'm surrounded by so much awesome?  Yet at the same time life has been too good not to blog.  I want to remember this stuff!  I want to chronicle my wonderful family.  It's selfish, really, as I can just pull up a blog post on a bad day and instantly remember the good times that have happened and have yet to happen that make it all worthwhile.  I don't do that here.  So this post won't be a recap of fun weekends or silly kid stories.  I have other places for that.  Places that are far more meaningful to me.  This is my place to whine.  Which is probably why I'm not some wildly successful blogger.  I'm just another woman complaining into the ether.  And lately, I just haven't had much to complain about.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On Pre-K Homework and Perfectionism

Laura started Pre-K at her daycare the last week of August.  She was so excited.  So very excited.  Not to finally be in the 4's class, even though she's been four for 3/4 of a year now.  But because of homework.

"I can't wait to move up to the 4's class so I can get homework!  Grandma calls it homefun!  It's going to be perfect!"

"Perfect."  But that's precisely the problem I have with this homework.  Perfectionism.

Laura comes home every night with her intimidating black composition book with assignments glued in.  Practice these letters.  Color in this picture.  Draw these shapes to match.  It's not the actual assignments - it's the expectation Laura has for herself to be perfect.

Practice these letters: She's lefty, which means that our right-handed system of letter writing is not intuitive for her.  Many of her letters come out perfectly written... completely backwards.  And as soon as Laura compares her letter to the example, she bursts into tears.  "It's not perfect!  It needs to be perfect!  My teacher will be upset!"

Woah.  WAIT A MINUTE.  You are four years old.  You still fit on my lap, and snuggle blankies to sleep, and need me to cut up your food at dinner.  You are still so little and young and innocent.  Please, PLEASE don't worry about what a teacher thinks of you.

I am frustrated, and maybe I need to speak with her teacher about this, but I am frustrated because it feels like Laura is feeling pressured  to learn and do things a certain way.  Maybe the pressure she is feeling is all internal.  But if there is a teacher - or even a classmate - making her feel this way, she needs it to stop.  She'll learn to write her letters.  I'm quite sure of that.  I just don't need her feeling intimidated into learning.

As Laura said just last night, "Mom, this homework really isn't fun.  I thought it was supposed to be fun."  So I wrote as much in a little note in her composition book last night:
Laura did not finish writing her P's because she was getting too upset when they weren't "perfect" and I asked her to stop. -C