Tuesday, May 18, 2010

early intervention...or not

Early this year, I thought we had things sorted out. We'd changed Acorn's EI teacher, gotten speech therapy started (against their normal policy), and things were back on track. The new staff were very upbeat, and very aware that he catches on to things and solves problems like a kid older than he is (even more so considering his adjusted age). They were aware of his need for control, aware that he doesn't perform on cue, aware that there are some sensory issues that we're still sorting out, and aware that he's slow to warm up to people. And I thought we had a working plan.

This week, it's come to a screeching halt again.

I'm so mad I could scream, even days after the first part of this was relayed by our nurse, and more than a day since the official email came from the school.

Acorn wasn't feeling well last week. We all had some sort of respiratory bug. He was barely tolerating his speaking valve.

The speech therapist from school has been to see Acorn maybe 4 times in the last 3 1/2 months. She's away at conferences or has other meetings during their scheduled appointment....her practicum student has seen him more often than she has. Her sessions with him are only half an hour, and she's routinely not on time.

This past week, the ST brought a phoniatrist (a medical doctor who, as far as I can tell, specializes in the throat and also is trained as a speech & language pathologist) to help make suggestions on where to go with his speaking.

Acorn made no sounds at all, the entire time they were there.

Keep in mind, this is a sick kid, being prompted by a stranger and someone he has seen only a handful of times, who is not good with new people and has a stubborn streak a mild wide, and a need to be in control twice that big.

The email I got yesterday includes the phrases "at this point and time it is hard to tell what [his] potential for speech is going to be" and that we need to push him to communicate "in hopes he will be able to shape his sounds into words one day"

Seriously? You don't think that this child will talk, and that he doesn't communicate? There's nothing wrong with his cognitive skills. Nothing wrong with his receptive language skills. His motor skills are coming along nicely, and for a kid who basically didn't eat the first 6 months of his life, he's only a little bit behind there, all things considered.

On the other hand, this is a kid who makes lots of sounds for us, and for the other speech therapist that he sees for an hour twice a week (m, n, k, g, and l, per her notes for me this week) - and she's thrilled with his progress the last 4 months, and pointed out that some verbal skills follow gross motor development, so the more caught up he is there, the better.

Communication wise, this is a kid who not only surprised all of us by signing "Signing Time" to ask to watch videos last week, but who has taken in the last 2 weeks to grabbing someone by the hand and dragging them to what he wants - the front door for outside, his CD player for his favorite music - down to putting your finger on the correct button to play music, or the lid if it's not what he wants, or the doorknob to open it to go out.

Right. I don't know why they can't see that he's communicating, just not in the way they'd like. I can't see why they believe that just because he doesn't often sign, he doesn't know what those things mean (I'm pretty sure he understands about 100 signs). More and more I suspect that when he gets around to actively using speech or sign, we're all in trouble because it'll be complete sentences.

In the meanwhile, I have to figure out what to do about their cluelessness. If they don't think he'll ever talk, what makes them think that their work with him is worthwhile?

And if this is the treatment a fairly typical kid, other than his medical issues, gets from this school district...we may be in trouble long term. And where does that leave kids with larger issues?

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