Thursday, September 14, 2006

Low End Of Normal

Today was Lauren's speech evaluation through the county ESD. I was told to expect a 3 hour evaluation because for kids under 3 yrs old they must do a "whole child" assessment. Meaning, they would be looking at her gross motor and fine motor skills, her problem-solving, her hearing, her communication, etc. I had my mom watch Nicholas so he wouldn't be a factor during the evaluation.

We got there and the waiting room was full of enticing toys for the under-3 set. Lauren immediately got to work on a maze cube thingy, chatting me up as she went. Quite a few other kids and their parents filtered in while we waited. When it was time for our appointment 2 lovely older ladies came to get us and introduced themselves to me as the assessors for Lauren. We were shown into a large room with kid-sized tables and shelves of toys, which Lauren beelined for, but this time with a button-lip. The ladies explained everything to me and showed me where Lauren fell on the development scale based on the assessement I filled out and sent back several weeks ago. She's topping the charts development-wise. Far, far, far from even touching the shaded area where one begins to get concerned. So that was good. They told me that based on that alone, she would be disqualified from even getting an evaluation, except they were made aware of my concerns regarding articulation and felt it worthwhile that a trained speech pathologist put an ear on her and evaluate Lauren for that area primarily. Um, ok. Whatever you think.

Except Lauren hardly said a word. The whole time. And isn't that just so typical?? The kid never shuts up at home, but put in a room and told to talk it up, she's dumbstruck.

The nice older lady tried engaging her with toys, and Lauren willingly played, but
kept her trap mostly shut. She gave one word, mumbled answers to stuff. Great. Just great. So then they said that based on their quick observation of her it was clear that my assessment was spot-on: she's chart-topping in all aspects except articulation. So they told me they were going to re-evaluate the evaluation and go in another direction. They let the one lady go since she wasn't needed anymore. The remaining lady, the speech pathologist, said that they weren't going to do the full evaluation on Lauren but that it meant we'd have to likely wait for services. Excuse me? Wait? But we're here NOW. I was told that there are a different set of criteria when a child is under 3 yrs old and by law they would need to do a full assessment of all areas of development if a child is under 3, and clearly that would be a waste of everyone's time. But once a child turns 3, then you can focus on just the area clearly in need of evaluation. In our case, her articulation of speech. So what they wanted to do instead was build up some data on her articulation now and then re-visit it, if necessary, once she turns 3.

Which is just 8 weeks away. 8 lousy weeks.

So they did a quickie evaluation of her ariculation, which consisted of the speech pathologist asking Lauren to repeat about 30 different words and then noting which one's she got correct. Only they weren't even listening for whether she could correctly say each word in it's entirety, just whether she was able to say a certain sound within the word. For example, she was asked to say 'rabbit', and it sounded like 'rabb-eh' when Lauren repeated the word back. She tends to leave off the final sounds of many words. But she passed that word because all they wanted to know is whether she could say the 'r' sound at the beginning of the word or not. She could, so it counted.

Lauren got 11 words counted as correct. The baseline for her age says that the low range for typical kids is 10. She got 11. Borderline acceptable. The good news is she's functioning within the pathetically tolerant range of normal for her age, but the bad news is that she officially doesn't qualify for services. Yet.

You see, if she was just 8 weeks older (8 weeks!) then she'd fall under the bare minimum and definitely qualify for services. The bar goes noticibly up once you turn 3. They expect a 3 year old to be 80% clear/intelligible. I would put Lauren at under 40% clear/intelligible today (of course, I can understand nearly everything she says because I've developed a built-in translator filter and know contextually what she's trying to say. But you? You would have a very hard time understanding her.)

So where does that leave us? The lady told me that they're booking up pretty far out for evaluations and services (I know this - we had to wait nearly 2 months for this wasted evaluation). And, apparently you can't make an appointment until the child is within 45 days of their birthday. We're practically there now, but still, I must wait. I must jump through their endless hoops. The lady was nice, though, and is adding us to her tickler file and says she'll call me at the end of Oct. to check in and see if we're noticing big improvements in Lauren of if we want to re-refer and be looked at with the 3 yr old criterion vs. early-intervention (under 3 yrs). She did tell me that she hears my concerns in Lauren. Sure, Lauren just barely passed the single articulation screen, but again, that's just listening for certain sounds, not entire words. When you just listen to her, you hear how garbled she is. And the speech pathologist acknowledged this. She said she agrees that Lauren is delayed some in speech and will most likely qualify for help in 8 weeks time under different criteria. I'm not sure if this makes me happy or not. Happy that she's within normal range now, but bad enough for help come November. It sort of justifies my concerns, I guess. I'm NOT crazy or over-zealous in my belief that she's behind in speaking clearly. She IS behind. The speech pathologist said so. Just not enough behind to do anything about it today.

And to top the whole experience off, Lauren had a rare accident during the evaluation and peed her pants. Nice! And wouldn't you know it? We just cleaned out the car and I unpacked all the extra supplies I had carried around for months, just in case. She never needed them before so I mistakenly thought I wouldn't need them now (shakes head in disbelief of my own cockiness, tempting fate this way) So she had to ride back to Grandma's in wet pants. In which she then pooped. After making her try to use the bathroom before even getting in the car.

What a day. Low end of normal indeed.

I am starting to think I need Austin's speech evaluated.
Now you understand why I named my blog that. That's where Littles stood after her gross motor skills eval.
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