So, I’ve realized that not everyone that reads this blog knows Moose’s story, or has been able to piece together the jumble of posts that my brain puts together. So, I’ll try to summarize what we’ve been through, and how it’s affecting him.
Let me start by saying that he is just the sweetest, most loving little guy. He adores his baby (and she is *his* baby), he’s so happy, he makes us all so happy. He was laid-back and cheerful as a baby, and he’s still (for the most part), very easygoing. His middle name is Isaac, and he lives up to it, laughing all the time, and filling our lives with laughter. He has delays, but they in no way detract from his sweetness, his loving nature.
I first noticed a potential problem with his speech in the summer of 2007. (This is where it becomes evident what a bad mommy I am.) I thought he might be a little behind in talking, but then again, Turkey didn’t really start talking in sentences or using a wide range of words until he was about 22 months old, and Moose was only about 20 months old at that time, so I figured it was just a boy thing and ignored it.
As any parent knows, time just flew by, and before I could blink, it was summer 2008, and his speech had still not caught up to where it should be (I told you I was a bad mommy!). The issue had popped up here and there in that year’s time, but everyone, including his doctor, just chalked it up to the fact that his two older siblings talk constantly, and he either didn’t need or want to say anything. Plus, boys usually do talk later than girls, so I just figured it was no big deal.
But, by this summer, I realized (with some help from Ryan, telling me something that I needed, but didn’t want, to hear) that we seemed to be dealing with something more than a child with siblings who talk too much, so I finally did what I should have done a full year earlier (seriously, horrible mommy alert), and called Early Intervention. A parade of therapists came through our home–developmental, speech, occupational–to evaluate him, and they all seemed to agree that we were looking at Sensory Processing Disorder (or one of the other names it goes by), which was a little overwhelming and distressing, but not terribly frightening. So, he started speech and occupational therapy, and we waited for an appointment with a developmental pediatrician to get an official diagnosis for him.
That’s when things started to go downhill. She diagnosed him with mild autism, and scared the life out of me with the stuff she told me he needed to be doing. This was a very low time for me, and I really struggled with this information. His therapists (along with most people who know him) were surprised by the diagnosis, because he doesn’t really fit the “typical” autism mold. The therapists even assured me that new research is showing a lot of children “grow out” of the diagnosis by age five, which we are still hopeful for.
Anyway, with this new information, we realized that to continue getting the kind of therapy services he needs, we really needed to put him in the public school (Early Intervention runs out at age three, and we can’t afford private therapy to the extent he needs it). He has what can only be described as a severe speech delay–Ladybug is more understandable than he is in pronouncing words, and her vocabulary may overtake his soon, at the rate they’re both developing. But, in school, he can get speech therapy daily, as well as occupational therapy, and have models of other children his age who are talking. And school can help him with his attention span issues and following directions. So even though I’ve never been a fan of putting three year olds in school, and even though I’ve been bitten by the homeschooling bug, I realized that this was something I had to, because it’s best for him, even if it’s killing me.
We started the lengthy process of transitioning from Early Intervention to the school system. I think this involved two or three meetings with school officials in our home, and three meetings at the school. It was, at times, maddening how many meetings they wanted and how much paperwork there was. One of those meetings involved Moose being observed, tested, and evaluated while I filled out more paperwork. And that’s when I hit my lowest point yet. Because, they said that with his lack of ability to communicate, the IQ test they gave him didn’t go so well, and he scored on a level that in less politically correct days would have had him labeled as mentally retarded.
It’s really hard hearing strangers tell you the worst things you could imagine about your child. First the Early Intervention people in my home (four of them!) telling me he was scoring on the same level as his baby sister in most areas, then the doctor and the diagnosis of autism, and now a school psychologist telling me his IQ is so low that he could be considered retarded. She said that she didn’t “think” that score was true, that she could tell that he’s intelligent, but for now, with his communication problems, that’s all they have to start from.
So, Moose is in school, in what is essentially a special ed program for three year olds. It’s cross categorical, so the children in his class have all kinds of different issues–some mental, some physical, and some like him, with what I guess you would call neurological problems. I don’t know if it will be long term that he’ll be in public school. I do know that I’m not qualified to give him therapy services, and by being in school, he is able to receive more therapy minutes each week than if I was just bringing him after school. The student-teacher ratio is really good, so he’s getting a lot of focused attention.
I pray that this is what is best for him. I was afraid that it would be really overwhelming, and he would shut down more. That hasn’t happened, and he does seem to be following directions better at home. His reports from school have all been excellent–they say his behavior is good. I don’t know if he’s had regular meltdowns there, but if he has, they haven’t been bad enough that they’ve felt the need to notify me. He also seems to be jargoning more, and has said some more words here and there, but I’m not sure that his overall speech has changed a whole lot. Then again, I can’t expect everything at once, I know.
So, that’s where we’re at. It’s really hard, because it goes against everything I’ve ever thought about parenting, but Moose is different from my other children, so I guess he just needs different things. It’s still my prayer that he “outgrows” this thing, but if he doesn’t, well, we’ll make it through that, too. Just taking it one day at a time for now.