• My little graduate!

    Date: 2011.11.13 | Category: parenting | Tags:

    When Katie was 11 months old we took her in to the doctor for the croup.  While at the office she was weighed and we discovered that since her 6 month exam she had completely fallen off the growth charts.  The urgent care doctor was actually far more concerned about her weight than about her croup and started throwing around terms like “failure to thrive”; she urged us to see our pediatrician ASAP.  Our pediatrician was much more reassuring, and with her advice (and that of the dietician she referred us to) we started a regimen designed to put some weight on our girl.  And we did have some success.  Kate put on enough weight that she crept onto the growth charts and has stayed there (even if just barely!).  Unfortunately, Kate spent so much of her awake time in the high chair that we started to see her lag behind in some of her developmental milestones.  One of the key things that I noticed was that Kate wouldn’t usually respond to her own name.  She also was not pointing to familiar objects in books, following even the simplest of commands, making any animal sounds, etc.  She was still very babyish in her behavior.  At 16 months we were referred to our local Child Find / Developmental Pathways for a comprehensive evaluation of Kate.  They determined that she did not have global delays (delays across every area of development) as I feared, but she did have significant delays in receptive language (she tested at 9-12 months in this area) and slight delays in gross motor skills (she was only a few months behind, but should have been walking on her own).

    Fortunately we live in an area where were are eligible for services through the county at no cost to us.  They offered us 3 sessions of speech therapy a month and we decided to give Kate another month or so to see if she would catch up on her gross motor skills and then re-evaluate her need for services with a physical therapist.  When it came to her gross motor skills, Kate took care of that problem on her own.  At 17 months Katie decided that she was ready to walk and she just took off.  When that girl finally took her first steps she literally walked from one end of the house to the other!  By the time we saw the physical therapist for her re-evaluation she had caught up to her peers and showed no sign of slowing down.

    Her speech problems were not solved quite as easily, and thus started a new Tuesday morning routine.  Each week we met with a therapist who taught us tricks to engage Kate’s attention and teach her joint attention.  Things like clapping while calling her name and then tapping her near the eye to get her to look at us, physically helping her point to the objects in the books we were reading, playing lots of games like Patty Cake and Ring Around the Rosie.  We worked to make sure that we would stop and catch her attention while giving a command and then give her a chance to respond appropriately or physically help her to complete the task.  We started forcing Kate to use her words or sign language to request what she wanted rather than responding to her cues.  We started narrating her every move to increase her familiarity with the words that go with her actions.

    Right around 20 months I felt like Katie’s “lightbulb” went on.  All of a sudden she doubled and then tripled her vocabulary.  She started responding to commands and to the events going on around her appropriately.  She started requesting books by name and pointing to the pictures in them.  I would hear her singing the alphabet tune or Jesus Loves Me.  She started identifying people by name and interacting with us conversationally.  I mentioned the changes I was noticing to our therapist and she agreed that Kate had all of a sudden jumped into the land of “age appropriate behavior”.  I asked for her opinion regarding continuing therapy and we decided to run Kate through the battery of tests to evaluate her again.  (I say this jokingly- most of the questions were directed at me or were answered by the therapist herself through observation.)  We decided that it seemed Kate’s language skills had reached or surpassed expected levels.  Our therapist then brought in a specialist who interacted with Kate and did a formal re-evaluation and she discovered that Kate was testing at 24 months for her expressive and receptive language skills-an increase of more than 12 months in her development in only 5 months!  Way to go Katie Mae!

    This prompted a meeting with our regular therapist and our service coordinator to officially “graduate” Kate from her services.  And here is where I realized just how blessed (fortunate, favored, etc) we really are.  Both ladies told me that in all of their combined years of experience this was the first time that either of them had graduated a child from speech therapy after only five months.  Ever.  They both said that most children end up in therapy for several years at least, requiring intervention from multiple specialists and often continuing to receive help well into their school years.  Both women were amazed at Kate’s rapid progress and delightful response to early intervention.

    So here is where I thank God for our sweet Kate.  I praise Him for our little girl and for getting us just the right help at just the right time to give Kate the kick start she needed.  I consider it nothing short of a miracle.

    Kate Talking 11-12-11

    (click on the link for a video of Kate showing off her stuff)

    Thanks for walking through this short, but challenging journey with us.  I am so thankful to have you with me along the way!