Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Scattered...and Nick's Development

My plan this morning was to blog about Nick's recent developmental evaluation, which I'll get to shortly. But I have to open with a little anecdote from this afternoon.

My drycleaning has been at the cleaners for almost 3 weeks. I forgot about it for about a week, and since then haven't been able to find a good time to go since stopping after picking Nick up at daycare isn't usually the best plan. Today I decided to stop before picking Nick up. I go in and while they are looking for my clothes I realize my credit card is in my purse in the car. I run out to the car to get my purse and proceed to search through looking for the loose card. (The night before Nick and I had attended a going away party for some friends and I left pretty quickly after paying because Nick was heading in a bad direction, thus dropping my card in the purse, not in my wallet). I basically unload my bag in the cleaners and my card isn't there. So, I give her my other card. She runs it through and to my shock and dismay she tells me, "It says its cancelled". I think about this for a minute and remember, oh yeah, when I was on my way to Chicago 2 weeks ago and tried to get cash it was denied. Did I do anything about this 2 weeks ago? No. Totally embarassed, I tell the teenager behind the counter that I'll have to leave the clothes because I have lost my card and the other one is no good. I felt so silly, for many reasons, but mainly because I should have followed up on the issue I had at the airport and also, I really had no idea what I did with the card the night before. This type of thing has been happening to me alot lately. This is just one little example. I have about 5 from my Chicago trip, and many more from recent weeks. I'm just wondering when did I become a scatter brain?

OK, back to the subject at hand which is Nick's recent developmental evaluation.

I worry. And after a very concerning language "screen" (I think the screener spent 10-15 mins with Nick), we decided it was time to have a full evaluation of Nick's development. Prior to the screen I thought he was doing great and making alot of strides, but the screen cast doubt on that.

The evaluation took 2 hours and included observation in the following areas: Cognitive, Expressive Communication, Receptive Communication, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Social/Emotional and Adaptive. There were 3 specialists observing Nick and a student. Basically, Nick played for 2 hours straight with the various toys they provided and he was observed by the professionals. It was slightly nerve wracking for me. I don't think any one is surprised that a two year old will not perform on command. So, of course I worried when Nick wouldn't do the chunky shapes puzzle and when he wouldn't make the sound a cow makes. There are countless other things that he wouldn't do that I knew he could do. It was frustruating. But then he surprised me a few times too. He responded to the 1 - 2 - 3 consequences every time he was on the verge of a conniption and he threaded beads on a shoe string, an activity we have never tried at home.

I had no idea what the outcome would be. My main reason for wanting the evaluation was to make sure that we weren't missing a big red flag and to be sure that he is on track. In order to qualify for services in our county (and I think Virginia) a child has to have a greater than 25% delay in one or more areas, or an atypical development in one of the areas, or is diagnosed with a condition likely to result in a developmental delay.

In the end they "score" the children with the present level of development in terms of age for each area. Relatively, I wasn't surprised by the results of each area vs. the others. Nick had his most positive results in Social/Emotional, Adaptive, Cognitive and Gross Motor, where he was either at or close to 26 months (his current age). The areas where he needs more focus are Expressive Communication where he is at about 22 months and Fine Motor where he has scattered results ranging from 18 - 24 months.

One interesting factoid I picked up from the evaluation team is that it isn't unusual for a child that drools to also be behind in Fine Motor skills. Apparently it has to do with being placed on the back as opposed to the stomach and when a child is on the back they don't develop the strength through the upper body and face that is developed through play and placement on the belly. I hope I haven't butchered the explaination they gave me! Nick's drooling was identified as a potential issue in the original "screen" and it has improved considerably over the past month. But, it is still evident especially when he is really concentrating or if he is stressed out or uncomfortable. They referred to him as having a static face which they explained to me as child that isn't using his facial muscles as much as they would like. We have recently switched to cups with straws which I think are helping his strength. Some other ideas they gave me to improve his facial muscles are to have cotton ball wars on tables (blowing the balls around) and also work with bubbles and pinwheels. We have been working on these things more diligently since the eval.

The result of the day was that Nick does not qualify for services. I was so relieved and really thankful that he is on track. The women who evaluated Nick were so good with him and it was a very positive experience. They also put me at ease by telling me how impressed they were with how well he is doing after such a short time with us. I was actually shocked by this praise but ate it up, of course :-)

Finally, they armed me with many ideas for different activities to stimulate the Fine Motor development and also to increase vocabulary and language. I have to say it was a very well spent 2 hours and I was so proud of how well Nick handled it.

Aside from the developmental news, we are in week 4 of our lives without daddy being home during the week. The best thing we have done to help with the transition is to set up a camera for using Skype for video chats with daddy on most nights. Nick is starting to really enjoy and look forward to talking to daddy on the computer and it is a fun way to feel like we're not so far away from each other.

Have a great 4th of July all!