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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Standing Tall, But With My Head in the Sand

Last week Squirt graduated from physical therapy.  Well, she mostly graduated from physical therapy.  I don't think I've mentioned this before, but Squirt received a developmental assessment from our state's early intervention program back in July.  Every state has some form of early intervention program - in Maryland it's called the Infants and Toddlers Program, or ITP for short - and your child can receive FREE therapy - IN YOUR OWN HOME - if he or she qualifies.

Squirt definitely qualified.

I remember feeling shocked back in 2005 when the Tongginator received a developmental assessment of five- to six-months-old at 13 months of age, except for language development.  Can you imagine how I felt this past July when four professionals assessed a 13-month-old Squirt and deemed her developmentally about three- to five-months-old, except for her ability to sit and army crawl?  I mean, there are orphanage delays, and there are orphanage delays, y'all.

It's been a long haul, but Squirt is a fighter.

She began weekly physical therapy in August.  It's been slow going, mostly because we've missed so many appointments due to Squirt's multiple illnesses.  One week after we started therapy, she ended up in the emergency room and almost admitted to the hospital due to a near-septicemia diagnosis caused from a fast-developing urinary tract infection.  Then there were the myriad of colds and stomach bugs that swept through our house with the start of school.  And of course there was December's hospitalization.

Despite all of these challenges, and with the help of her physical therapist, Squirt learned appropriate transitions rather than the splitzville technique she perfected in China.  She learned to crawl on all fours rather than simply army crawl.  She learned to pull up to stand around Halloween, and started cruising in early November.  Just a few days before Christmas, Squirt finally dared to step solo.

It was a great day.

Less than a month later, she's walking almost as much as she's crawling.

I'm so pleased with her progress, and very happy to reduce our physical therapy sessions down to one a month, but it ain't over yet.  She'll continue to receive more education therapy as well as occupational therapy.  (Y'all didn't realize we have therapy twice a week, in addition to all of those doctor's appointments, did you?  It's because I'm *cough, cough* not one to whine.  Actually, it's just because I've hardly been blogging, otherwise you would have heard about it ad! nauseam! because I'm obnoxious like that.)

Although Squirt has made great strides in her gross motor skills, she continues to lag behind tremendously in her oral-motor and speech development.  This is a huge change for me... the Tongginator hardly skipped a beat when learning to speak.  In fact, she transitioned to English quite rapidly, gaining about five to ten English words each month she was home.  By the time she hit her second birthday, the Tongginator spoke in two to three word sentences, with her most prevalent ones involving some sort of demand.

"Get down now!"

"Mine.  Go way."

"I want eat."

Squirt, on the other hand, is capable of babbling vowels and six consonants, as well as two words, but ninety percent of the times she says "ga" or "da."  Which is infinitely preferable to the short-lived "die!" phase that existed in November, but whatever.  Two weeks ago a pediatric speech therapist assessed Squirt a second time.  I felt shocked and - I'll admit it - devastated to learn that Squirt's oral-motor and speech language skills are only at a five-month-level.  After over six months home.  Now, I know that children tend to focus on learning to walk before they learn to speak, but still... she's developmentally five-months-old in this area.  At almost 19 months of age.  I really thought she was further along than that, but a second opinion proved the therapist right and me a momma with her head in the sand.

We'll be stepping up the occupational and educational therapies in the coming months.  Hopefully we'll continue to see progress, fast or otherwise, especially in the areas of eating and speaking.  I'd love to see my Squirt tackle more food variety and to hear my Squirt say more than "hi!" and the ever-obscure "owl," but I know that patience is more than half the battle.  On the up side, her signing continues to improve.  She now signs: eat, juice, milk, play, bath, toothbrush, sleepy, dog, bird, baby, all done, book and cracker.  Of course, they're all Squirt-style, but I'm not picky.

I'll even take her screaming "die! die!" at strangers passing on the street.

As long as she starts talking.


Cedar said...

That isn't unusual, is it? She has been pretty busy learning so many other things and being ill. My 8 year old was diagnosed at a 6-9 month level of speech at 23 months (which is when we discovered our state's birth to 3 program). They kicked him out at 3. I have no doubt that you will see progress...how can you not with a sister like T and a child like S?

3cmum said...

I am sure you know this but do you have rear facing pram (oops showing I'm English) - buggy? Mine wasn't allowed forward facing until 3 1/2. We walked and talked to each other every day as we walked the dog/did the school run etc. Having her face me at these points and seeing my lips move, hearing me etc made a huge difference to the point that she as ahead of her birth peers.

Alyson and Ford said...

To echo 3cmum, I did not use a stroller at all (Okay maybe once or twice). I had AA on my front side, in a front facing babypack so her head was very close to my neck. I talked at her constantly, anywhere we went (she was pretty light, 19 lbs at 2 years old). I did that for a full year. Also, not sure how normal AA was, but she hardly spoke for about the first 15 months and we did use sign language; then once the 15 months was up she started talking with no end. Each child is different, so glad you are getting her help. Best wishes and hoping you can get more sleep soon!

Alyzabeth's Mommy

Stefanie said...

Sweet Squirt has been through so much, I think it sound like she's making huge strides. Keep on keepin' on... you're doing a great job :)

Aus said...

Morning TM - I think you guys are doing fine - really! I don't know all of Squirt's diet needs - but one of the things we did with two of ours that seemed to work was quasi bottle them. OK - maybe not a 'baby bottle' - but maybe one of thost soft toped 'nubi' cups - where they have to 'suck' on it to get anything. It forces them to work all the muscles in the face - AND - you make them kind of lay on your lap facing you, maybe with one arm behind you - and you hold the cup while you read or just talk to them. It works bonding, closeness, and face muscles all at once. And - best of all - you get to sit for a few minutes too! Groovy!!

we also used a baby carrier with one of them - maybe two again - but facing toward us on our front or hip depending on what we were doing - forced bonding as well as made it easy to 'converse' with them!

But mostly - y'all just keep using your own good judgement - you're a BTDT - and it looks to me like you are doing just fine! She'll suddenly catch-up and you'll never have to look back!

hugs - aus and co.

LucisMomma said...

Here's my mommy-opinion, because I'm not a professional or anything: I think she'll catch up. I wonder if she's still in "adjustment" mode? (for instance: our DD is extremely ticklish but we had no idea for quite a few months--she was holding back until she trusted us. She did not "let go".)

We are discovering our DD has a learning delay but it did not show up until she was 5. Hang in there. Squirt will learn. Prediction: She will be one of those "We couldn't wait for her to talk and now she won't shut up" kids.

LucisMomma said...

PS--my own bio brother didn't begin to speak until he was 3!! And now HE won't shut up. :)

Chelsea Gour said...

When we brought Claire home at 30 months......she tested as a 10 month old! She is 6 yrs. 2 months now and fully on track with her peers. Actually, she excels in language development and reads on a 2nd grade level. I know you are doing everything you can and I'm sure she'll catch up! One day, this will be just a blur and you won't believe you once wondered if she'd ever catch up. Hugs!

Jennifer said...

Not sure if you knew this, but Mary was in ST from 9 days old until this past December. She'd still be going if our insurance hadn't changed for this calendar year. We had weekly appointments at an office and it was work for sure.

I'm glad you are doing the SL... communication is essential, speech is a learned skill. It will come eventually.

Claudia said...

This is exhausting, isn't it? My kids were really slow to talk so I know how difficult it can be.

With no offense intended to the previous commenters... the thing that drove me the craziest was people telling me that they would definitely catch up. Ummmm..... HOW DO YOU KNOW? Especially people who had never met my kids!

I'm glad that you've got all the appropriate therapies for squirt - that's great. Seems like your health care providers are doing a great job - as are you, of course, which goes without saying.

TK said...

We used Early Intervention for both our kids. One needed it more than the other. I urger ALL parents to have their child assessed because once they turn 3, it is up to the local school system to evaluate them and it is a long drawn out process. My older child who needed tons of therapy is now 7 and still receiving speech in the public school. I'm keeping her on it just in case she needs extra help in other areas since she still has a significant developmental delay on her IEP. She can keep this diagnosis until age 9 so I'm keeping that IEP active. Even if it is hard for her SLP to find goals to work on...
I'm a sped teacher, so I know, keep the IEP as long as you can. You never know when you might need it!

Kim O

The Gang's Momma! said...

I'm feeling chagrined. I JUST YESTERDAY told The Boss that I can.NOT.TAKE.ONE.MORE.DAY. of the CONTSANTBARRAGEOFWORDS that come out of Li'l E's mouth ATEVERYTURN. Always prefaced with "Mommy can I....." Always.

It makes me feel like shuffling off to a quiet corner to rock myself to oblivion.

Enough about me....

I do agree with the other commenters - she's come so far in the physical stuff that the language is bound to come along too. But Claudia is right too - it made me nuts (still does?!) when folks tell me that Li'l E's anxieties will work themselves out in all good time. So, I'll just nod my head and sympathize from here. Quietly. In a corner. Where Li'l E can't find me. For just a few minutes.

Anonymous said...

Here's my thoughts. She's had so much to deal with, and she's WALKING already and doing great and sorting through all sorts of health issues, and there's only so much she can do. I think (non professional opinion) it will come in its own time. I don't say this lightly or complacently, as I know about mom-worry and have dealt with developmental delays on my own.
Also, I have a feeling she will be the complete opposite of T in most ways, which is how siblings usually are :) I love hearing about your family.

Briana's Mom said...

It sounds like she is coming along amazingly well. Briana said very little at 2 years of age. She didn't really start talking in full sentences until she was around 3. She learned to do everything quickly - except talk. I think with the therapies, Squirt will start talking in no time. :)

Sharie said...

As many people as I told about early intervention it's one thing I always regret...my little one was in good shape, but there were underlying issues that didn't come out and now at 7 finding time to work through them and diagnose them is much more challenging. So I say way to go Mom...way to get her the early help she needs and way to follow through. I'm sure it's exhausting but she's lucky to have landed in a home with a stay-at-home parent willing to dedicate the time to addressing her needs - early. Just as you are lucky to get to see the amazing Squirt go through so many of her firsts:)

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

I am happy to hear that Squirt graduated from Physical Therapy...Way to go!! She made up for lost time rather quickly, even with all the health obstacles you have had to overcome. I have no doubt she will speedily catch up with her oral/motor skills too. I was amazed by how quickly Reagan's speech developed once we started. She has graduated and now she is really talking our ears off. Some if it is still a little hard to understand, but she is talking:)

Hope you are all doing well otherwise.



anymommy said...

So many worries with little ones, especially when they faced unusual challenges in the beginning. It sounds like she is really developing fast though and I bet she tackles talking now that she can get where she wants to go?!

lmgnyc said...

Well, I'm sure you've got some things just lurking around the edge of your brain just bugging you about why maybe she isn't quite where she should be and all of us giving you cute little anecdotes about how our daughters were here or there but now are lil' Einsteins just aren't so reassuring to you so I'm just going to shut up and say, wow, I am really sorry she test where she did and holy cow this is one long sentence but I am sooooo soooo sure that this child landed in the family who will love her as much as any family who ever could or would no matter how much she talks or doesn't. And if any one could make her talk it's you TM just by the sheer force of will. So you go girl. Love her and make that speech just come on out. Next post I swear will be how she just won't shut up. I know it.

And if it's not that will be ok too. For real.

Carissa said...

Our speech therapist gave up after the twins went further into twin talk and stopped learning new signs almost as an affront to her. She said it was all there and they would talk in their own time. Three years later, yes years, as we moved Johanna sat down at the kitchen table one day and in true Johanna fashion, told a whole story for five minutes. Prior to that VERY little, ever tried to potty train when your kid will not talk to you or how about send her to preschool, it was hard for me. I get your pain, I have been there! It was our last thing and as with everything else she waited until it was "perfect" in her head and did it, and her brother who had pretty much said if she does not have to then neither do I followed suit. I have to say though I a loving knowing what is going on in their little heads finally and they are so funny! Good luck with Squirt I hope she "graduates" faster than Johanna!

CC said...

Hugs! I know it's hard when you think your child is further along then the testing shows :( :( But hopefully things WILL progress rapidly and she WILL make lots and lots of progress. And, there are people like me near you to help her and you along that path. :)

Along the "die die!" I have a (verbal) student at school that expresses he is unhappy with a teacher by repeating telling her/him "You're fired!"

Cavatica said...

Possibly related... Even adults relearning to walk and talk don't do well with both at the same time, in my experience. When progressing in one area, the other lags behind. Then they switch. It's something the physical and speech therapists where I work have noticed.