I had been down the Early Intervention road with Chaim. As a preemie with clear and obvious delays, he was awarded two Occupational Therapy slots a week. They were very helpful to his development, but scheduling his naps around them were annoying and difficult. At 16 months, Physical Therapy was added twice a week, and now I had to schedule his naps and my shopping around four therapy sessions. Super annoying.
It had been so liberating when Dovi was born to have my schedule, which didn't revolve around therapy sessions. But just too bad; if Dovi needed speech therapy - which he obviously did - I would have to rearrange my schedule for him. I did want his speech issues fixed, didn't I?
I had no idea just how rearranged my life was about to become; so distorted, in fact, that it was not my life anymore.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I must say this: I was blessed that Dovi's diagnosis came right before Early Intervention began slashing services left and right. I was amazed how quickly everything happened; I called the Early Education Center on April 7. By April 8 I had a service coordinator, a wonderful, wonderful woman I still keep in touch with. By April 13 a social worker was in my house, taking down Dovi's social history. By April 15, a special ed evaluator was in my house. She is the educational director of a Special Ed Preschool, and therefore could only came after hours... at 5:30. Dovi had fallen asleep on the floor twice by then, and I had to shake him awake, so he did not give off his best performance.
The evaluator's words, while not unexpected, came as a shock. She was extremely concerned that Dovi did not make eye contact with her or showed any interest in interacting with her at all. He pushed away all non-musical toys and refused to follow any of her directives to put shapes in a form board, nest cups, or look at pictures in a book. She placed him at a 14-month-old level cognitively and in the 1st percentile of something-or-other. She strongly recommended that he get Special Instruction, which is Early Intervention's version of Special Ed, in addition to Speech Therapy. She also recommended a psychological evaluation so Dovi could get an official diagnosis, which would make him eligible for additional services.
My heart sank. Four therapy sessions a week? This was becoming a bit much. My tranquil life was starting to slip away. I could slowly see where this was heading, and I refused to let my mind go there. Enter stage 1 of Mourning: the Denial stage.
On April 21, the Speech Therapist showed up to evaluate Dovi. Her report is absolutely abysmal. It was shocking to see how Dovi did not have a single age-appropriate milestone in receptive or expressive language.
During the informal testing Dovi was unable to initiate a turn taking game, identify pictures or produce labels for objects and pictures shown to him. He was unable to sit for an appropriate amount of time to follow directions. He was unable to listen to simple direction and was unable to focus on one activity at a time. Dovi is unable to use words to label anything and does not make and maintain eye contact.
Positively scary. This is a kid who was doing all of the above just four months before.
Dovi is unable to communicate with his mother. He does not use any words to convey meaning and will only repeat practiced words by rote such as "eight, nine, ten" after mom prompts with "five, six, seven". Dovi does not persist in communicating and he does not comment or use word approximations. He also does not use ritual words such as hi, bye, thank you or please. He does not appear to understand words and does not follow many basic directions.
The evaluator recommended speech therapy, of course, and that I see a neurodevelopmental pediatrician to get a clear diagnosis.
All signs were leading to the same road. No. NO. NO!!!
This was not happening to me. This couldn't be happening to me. This was just a speech/language delay. This was fixable!!! I just had to spend more time with him, play with him more, he would get a little therapy, he would get better really soon. Right? Right?
To be continued