New Blog Post, Now With MORE Evaluations!

Despite knowing that more than half of the adult world are parents, it’s easy to feel alone sometimes. Especially when your kid doesn’t follow that standard growth curve, be it physically, developmentally or socially. You want to talk to other parents about your child, but at the same time, you worry no one will understand. Or worse – they won’t care and instead judge your parenting in its place.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying thank you. Whenever I need advice, encouragement, or just someone to say I hear you, I can always turn to the blogging community for support. My previous post was mostly about me trying to process the news I had been given about Cordy, and all of your comments were very, very welcome. I was feeling a little alone and uncertain about what was the best course of action for her, so crying it out in a blog post seemed like a good way to work through it. It’s a lot of responsibility to make choices that could affect her entire life, and I often worry I’m making the wrong ones.

You’ve given me fresh ways of looking at the situation, new ideas to consider with her team, and a lot more hope that no matter what decision is made, it’ll all work out. This is the heart of blogging for me – the community – and I hope this aspect of blogging never goes away. I no longer feel alone; instead I’m empowered and know that I’m doing the right thing by carefully considering the options and continuing to educate myself more on each option.

At this point, a lot of my worrying is on hold until we find out what schools she’s offered acceptance into next year. Our school district has a lottery for schools, and we can apply for up to three. We’ll have to see what schools are even available to her. Depending on the lottery, she may not even have the choice of a special-needs classroom. Or if we really want to pursue that option, we’ll have to work with school officials to bend the rules to get her where she needs to be.

Instead, I now turn my attention to the question of summer camp. Cordy attended a mainstream summer camp last year with little difficulty (OK, there were a few bumps along the way…), but this year she’s old enough to be in the older kids camp, with a more rigorous schedule. I’m not sure if it would be the best fit or if we should consider a special-needs camp. I’ll be spending the next weeks researching all our options and likely doing more hand-wringing.

And then there’s Mira.

Not content to let her sister get all the attention, she had her own school district evaluation a few weeks ago, and just last week we received the results of that evaluation. A team of experts again convened around a table with me, and one by one they gave me their report on Mira.

(Spoiler: She doesn’t have autism. Not even a chance. At all. Nope, none. Just wanted to get that out there before we begin. Our purpose of the evaluation was to see if she qualified for further speech therapy.)

First, the psychologist explained that Mira scored on the high end of average range for social/emotional skills and adaptive behaviors. She knows how to play the social game, and she has a good grasp of imaginative play and daily living skills. No surprises here.

Then gross and fine motor skills were addressed. She is at the low end of average for both of these, but not behind enough to qualify her for special needs services. Both therapists explained that most of her problems with these areas were in motor planning, and depending on the results of speech would tie in with a diagnosis of speech apraxia.

Then the speech therapist started her presentation. She began with verbal comprehension, and explained that she’s never seen a child of Mira’s age score so high. She was easily working with concepts rated for a five- year-old, and the therapist said she probably could have handled the seven-year-old material but she stopped the test before that point, fearing that Mira would tire out before the other therapists had the chance to evaluate her.

At this point I was resigned to the idea of Mira not qualifying for any additional services. I was hoping she’d be offered some speech therapy through the school district, hoping we could cut back a little on the $100 a week we’re spending on her current speech therapy. But with such good evaluations – even possibly gifted in language! – it seemed unlikely they would want to help her speech issues.

But then the therapist brought up the area of articulation, which in Mira’s case she described as “a mess.” She drops a lot of consonant sounds, substitutes sounds for other consonants, and generally is very hard to understand. In terms of placing her on their scale, she ranked well below the cut off line for average.

Put the articulation and verbal comprehension scores together and she still is average, but in this case the therapist recommended the school district still provide services. They don’t want her to become frustrated at not being understood and then stop trying. We’re lucky that she’s a persistent little thing right now, repeating herself hundreds of times if needed until you understand what she’s trying to say.

So the final verdict was she has all of the signs of speech apraxia, which can be remedied by plenty of speech therapy. I’ll admit, I probably seemed far cooler about this news than they expected. But c’mon – a little speech delay? Pssh – that’s nothing. I can handle that! Did you meet my older daughter three years ago when she scared the school nurse with her violent meltdown? (Side note: the special ed teacher in the room DID meet my shrieking child three years prior, and still clearly remembers that day. She was the one who carried Mira into the building for me that day, and she’s ecstatic to hear of Cordy’s improvements.)

Our choices at this point for Mira are special-needs preschool or just speech therapy. They’re concerned she’ll be bored with her classmates in special-needs preschool, but the benefit is they can also offer her OT and PT to help those minor problems in gross and fine motor skills. Since it’s a half-day program, they recommended placing her in a typical half-day preschool for the other half of the day.

I’m leaning towards that option, only because they also promised me her teacher would be Cordy’s first preschool teacher, Miss Wally. (*Not her real name.) I may not have written much about her, but know that I’d walk through fire for that woman. She worked miracles with Cordy, and I remember last year we both cried – teacher and parent – on Cordy’s last day with her. She told me if Mira ever needed anything, I was to make sure they sent Mira to her. And now they plan to.

So it would appear I now have two children who are considered to be “not typical.” But I don’t mind. They are both awesome little girls, as different as the sun and the moon, and I’m glad I get to be their mother.

As a former quirky, nerdy girl who didn’t fit in, and possibly still doesn’t, these two girls couldn’t be more mine. Aaron would argue that he fits that quirky description, too. Which means we’re the perfect parents for them.

They may debate that statement when they’re teenagers.
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  1. Amelia Sprout says:

    I just thought you would like to know how awesome of a mom I think you are. Not every parent would fight so hard for their kids. Trust me, I’ve seen it.

    We have M’s three yearold screening coming up as soon as I can schedule it, and while I don’t expect anything, I’m terrified. I hope I can be as strong as you have been.

  2. Condo Blues says:

    I honestly don’t think I could do half of what you do for your girls. You are awesome! And quirky 🙂 In our house, quirky is good and not an insult – we use it as high praise!

  3. Oh, man. I was in speech therapy through SIXTH GRADE. I’m positive the school would have continued to keep me in therapy for forever, because the therapy only stopped when I put my foot down and said I was not ever going to attend another session again. They took me out of class for my sessions, so I missed a TON of school and had additional stigmas placed on me by my ‘peers.’ Don’t get me wrong, if I hadn’t gone through speech therapy I would be nearly unintelligible, and I should also mention that I didn’t start speech therapy until I was in kindergarten. Perhaps if I started speech therapy at a much younger age and in such a way that I didn’t have to miss school time it would have been a much better experience, but in retrospect it was hell. I hope Mira has a far, FAR better experience! 🙂 Best of luck and good fortune, fortified with your indomitable will!

  4. My gosh they are beautiful – what are you going to do with them when they get older?! AACK can we both just freeze time?!

    You are doing a wonderful job and both girls are so very lucky that you are IN TUNE with their needs!

  5. You are so awesome and your girls are so lucky that you are their mother. You work tirelessly for them and it shows.

    they are pleasant and happy and a joy to be around. Well once Mira gets her walruses she is.


  6. I’ve been researching summer camps too for my ASD daughter. I want her to have some significant social opportunities this summer, but I don’t think she needs a therapeutic camp experience this year.

    Luckily, I found a place (that we go to year-round for swimming and tumbling) that gladly takes children with autism, and will provide an extra counselor even should she need it. I would have never known that had I not just asked the question.

    I’m sure you’ll find the right experience for Cordy. I decided to put Charlotte in camp with the younger kids so she can be with her sister. She’s right at the cut-off – this camp she’ll be the oldest kid, at the bigger kid camp she’d be the youngest.

    Good luck!