Trusting your momma gut and Early Intervention...
As you all know - we are pretty much an open book when it comes to our life. When we were diagnosed with infertility I started this blog and started sharing my thoughts and feelings and our experiences and I haven't stopped. I've been open and honest about all of the phases of our lives since then, post partum depression, mom struggles, weight struggles, and everything in between. That being said it is never easy to admit that there might be an issue with your child. Whether it be that they have trouble following instructions, that they just don't know how to behave, that they are sick or developmentally behind - whatever it may be we all know as mommas that in our eyes they are absolutely, 100%, unequivocally perfect. These rose colored glasses we wear for our littles make it hard to see when there are actually underlying issues. I want to share our experience and our journey through early intervention thus far.
For the longest time, I've been nervous about Ceej's speech. He doesn't really have any unprompted words. He can say momma, dada, uh-oh (which is technically classified as an expression/exclamation and not a word), and no. No is basically the only word that he can say unprompted and in the right context. Everything else he will occasionally repeat after us but doesn't use those words unprompted. Ceej being able to transition to life as a big brother got the best of me and I decided to explore early intervention for him. My biggest goal in bringing home the twins is to try to keep Ceej's life as "normal" to him as possible. While I know that's not going to go perfectly and will be a challenge for sure - it's something we are hoping to attempt.
I had heard stories of the early intervention process and that it could take a while for them to even get the ball rolling, that there was a lot of red tape, etc. and I'm happy to report I found the exact opposite. I called mid/late December. Our coordinator called back with in a day, she was here before the end of the year, we had our speech and developmental evaluations within about 2 weeks, determined he qualified and within 2 weeks we had started therapy. Everyone was so helpful and so nice and I could not be more impressed with the entire program thus far.
So what is early intervention? For us here in Illinois it's run by the Illinois Department of Human Services and according to their website their mission is…
Illinois' Early Intervention program's mission is to assure that families who have infants and toddlers, birth to three, with diagnosed disabilities, developmental delays or substantial risk of significant delays receive resources and supports that assist them in maximizing their child's development, while respecting the diversity of families and communities.
The early intervention program here is birth through 3 and the therapy sessions if children qualify are conducted in home. If there is a need for therapy past age 3, the kiddos will then go the local schools for their sessions. You can have your children evaluated for delays related to movement, learning, speech, behavioral, etc.. In Ceej's case we had both speech and developmental evaluations. There has also been talk of possibly getting an occupational therapist involved but we are going to see where he is at the 6 month mark to see if that's deemed necessary.
So where did Ceej fall on the scale? In order to qualify for EI services the kiddos have to be a certain percentage delayed. I believe here the cutoff is 30%. For Ceej he has minor delays in adaptive and cognitive development so not major concerns there - but his Expressive and Receptive communication delays were very hard to see - at a 52% and 38% delay respectively. This puts him at a 10 month level for expressive communication (meaning what he can say/express to us) and a 38% delay in his receptive communication or his ability to understand what is said. As a parent it's very very hard to see those sorts of numbers on paper. Because let's be honest - to us he's pretty damn perfect.
So what does that mean for us? It means that we have an hour of developmental therapy and an hour of speech therapy each week. Between that and all the classes and fun play dates and play groups we do it's certainly a lot to keep us busy! But I am so so happy to report that after just 4 total sessions (2 of each) - we have seen major improvements. His therapists are working on him using signs to begin to communicate basic wants and needs with us and he has "more" down pat. We are working diligently on please, help, and me/mine also. We've also noted that he's working to imitate us a lot more. He recently started telling us what sound a cat and cow makes and I have to say if you hear he little "meow" (which comes out at mew) or his moo (which comes out at muoooooo) your heart will instantly melt. No doubt. We also have noticed a lot more imitation of sounds like whoa, and wee, and even e-i-e-i-o as we sing to him. It's amazing to see the progress in such a short time.
Developmentally we've also seen huge strides already in his attention and focus and in simple things that most kiddos his age are capable of such as simple puzzles, building blocks, etc. I love sitting back and watching him work with his therapists. Most of the therapy if observed so far has just looked like play time. We build towers with blocks, play with bubbles, build towers for balls to fall through, do puzzles and sing songs. It's amazing to sit back and watch him work with his therapists and be so focused and determined and ultimately proud of himself when he does well. I was amazed this week at developmental therapy when my little nugget who usually has a 3.5 second attention span sat with Miss Ilana, built a tower taller than he is, and proceeded to pause in between each piece to sign "more" to her when he needed another block. I seriously felt like crying with pride and joy over watching him develop in front of my eyes.
So if you've made it this far good for you - I know it's long winded but since I shared some information on our trek through EI I've gotten lots of questions about the process, therapy itself, what caused me to go down this path - all of it. So if this post even helps a few people it will serve it's purpose! And as always with anything I post - please feel free and don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions - like I mentioned open book over here!
Hope everyone has a great valentine's day tomorrow! I know I can't wait to make it special for my boys!