Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A big year for Joe.

The past few weeks leading up to Joe's third birthday were very busy for us because Joe was getting evaluated by the Oakland Unified School District to see if he qualifies for speech therapy services through the school district. The Regional Center, which has been providing Joe with in-home speech therapy for the past year, only provides services to children under three. After that, the school district takes over.

As you might expect from a school district, OUSD's assessment process is a pretty formal and bureaucratic. I'm pretty sure I signed at least a hundred forms, all seeming to say the same thing (yes, you can access and review Joe's files! yes, I understand I have the right to file a grievance! yes! yes! yes! you'll never believe this, but I actually want Joe to get into your program!).

After two meetings and a ton of paperwork, there were two assessments: one at our home, and one at the local school district preschool center. As mentioned in a prior post, Joe did not exactly "perform" at his highest abilities for these assessments. Joe was having none of this testing business. While we have seen Joe's vocabulary and expressive abilities really explode over the past year, and over the past six months in particular, hardly any of that came through at the assessment. Instead, Joe got really shy, totally clammed up, refused to answer questions, and restricted his utterances largely to squeaks and squawks. When he did speak, he would speak in a strange whiny baby talk that he (thankfully, shudder) rarely uses in his everyday life.

Basically, he regressed about six months and totally refused to cooperate. As you can probably imagine, this was not fun for us parents. After listening to Joe point out every single stop sign, fire truck, construction vehicle,  delivery truck, mail truck, BART train, dog, and a good number of flowers and trees on his way to the appointment, it was a teeny tiny bit frustrating that he limited himself to squeaky baby talk once we arrived.

And then, of course, he talked our ears off on the way home from the appointment, too. Sigh.

Luckily, this sort of thing is apparently quite common when assessing three-year-olds (Whew! Thank goodness it's not just my kid!), and the school district speech language pathologist who assessed him was very understanding and willing to work with Joe to get what information she could. And she asked us a lot of questions and consulted with Joe's regular speech therapist to get a better idea of his progress.

Last week, Joe had his last session with Sarah, his speech therapist through the Regional Center, and I attended a meeting at the district to discuss their recommendations and Joe's IEP.

After those difficult assessments, I wasn't sure what to expect! But the district SLP was really positive and upbeat about Joe's progress. According to her evaluation, his receptive (understanding) abilities are almost within the normal range for his age. His expressive abilities are still delayed, but not significantly enough to qualify him for school district services without additional issues. He qualifies for continuing speech therapy primarily because his articulation/pronunciation is uh, a bit garbled.

Now, Joe-speak is pretty awesome and fun, and I highly recommend learning it (note: "toy" means car, "tunnel ga-ga" means fire truck, and "gulk" means milk), but you know, it would be nice to not have to puzzle over half of Joe's utterances, trying to figure out what the poor child is trying to say. Even Steve and I, who have undergone immersion learning in Joe's unique version of English, struggle to understand him quite a bit. Supposedly, a lot of these articulation and phonological issues will begin to correct themselves (with or without speech therapy, but help is awesome) around three years old, so we'll see how that goes.

But basically, he's doing great! He's saying a ton of stuff. Our next goal is to understand more of it.

So Joe has a big year ahead. We have said goodbye to Sarah, Joe's lovely in-home speech therapist, and we are about to start some new adventures: Joe will be receiving speech therapy at our local elementary school twice a week. And later, Joe will be starting at Peter Pan Cooperative Nursery in September.  This place is awesome and I think Joe is going to have a blast (you should see their train table!).

Finally, there is the small matter of a new sibling arriving later this summer ... I have been trying to prepare Joe for the big event by talking to him about his baby sister and reading him books about new siblings, and I think Joe understands some of it. He really likes babies (at least in theory), so that's a start. But really, when it comes down it, he has no idea what is in store, poor kid! (Honestly, Steve and I have only a slightly better grasp of what's in store for us, so you can't blame Joe if he is blissfully enjoying his only-child status for now.) Of course, it will be a wonderful change - for all of us - but I expect there may be some adjustments that will have to be made - for all of us. Ahem.

With that, I'll leave you with some photos of my three year old, enjoying throwing rocks into the San Francisco Bay.




12 comments:

  1. Yay! That's wonderful news about all the progress that he's making! You go, Joe!

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    1. Yeah, he's doing pretty great (even if his testing abilities are pretty abysmal, hehe). Thanks!

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  2. Throwing rocks into the Bay is pretty much the most fun thing ever. Wish I was there. Joe and Inder, you guys rock. Love you all.

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    1. We also flew a kite. You would have enjoyed it!

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  3. So glad for all this good news for Joe (and you). You know, I understand that averages and so forth can be useful tools for assessment but in the end we all have strengths and weaknesses. I can struggle to verbally articulate the most basic things under pressure but I write for a living. The brain is a marvellously strange thing.
    Seeing Joe interact with a sibling will be the most gorgeous thing you have ever seen. Well, 90% of the time, heheh.

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    1. That is very true about strengths and weaknesses! And I sure hope you're right about the sibling thing! You ought to know. :-)

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  4. All great news - I had been wondering on his progress, when you'd mentioned a few things a while back. GREAT news that he got into the lovely preschool that you wanted for him. Are you aware of California Children Services? I'm not sure if that the same people who are providing his therapy through the school district but down here in SoCal, we went from therapy through the Regional Center to CCS. They gave my daughter OT and PT and though she gets little regular therapy these days, they assess her every 6 months to see if her needs have changed as she gets bigger. They have really been superb. Might also be something worth looking at, if you haven't already?

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    1. Interesting. I don't know if the CCS provides services separate from the school district and the county here. Must do more research. But so far, Joe hasn't seemed to need anything other than speech therapy, which is provided through the district. I know other folks get PT and OT, and I'm not sure if that's provided by the district or another entity. You'd think I'd be an expert by now, but I find the whole system very confusing!

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  5. It is ALL very confusing, I know! However, I have always found all the various agencies to be very approachable and I always ask a lot of questions - as I'm sure you do too.

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  6. It's great to hear about Joe's progress. Eli has started speaking more in the past week so we are beginning to enter the territory of not understanding what the poor kid's trying to tell us. Up until now his utterances were accompanied by sign or so context obvious that it hasn't been a problem. Now he's telling us of things he's thinking about and we're left scratching our heads much of the time!

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    1. Yeah, it's so hard when your little guy is excitedly telling you all about something, and you're scratching your head and saying "Huh? Come again?" For a long time, Joe was pointing out what sounded like "Popeyes" whenever we left the house and Steve and I were just baffled. But he was so insistent about it! Later we discovered he was trying to say "Stop Sign" but it was coming out like "Pop 'Ine." Whew. Okay. That took a while! But it didn't dampen Joe's enthusiasm for stop signs one bit, luckily. :-)

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  7. My fave children's book about the arrival of a new sibling is Peter's Chair by Ezra Jack Keats. It's a bit "vintage" in its blue-for-boys, pink-for-girls coding, but still awesome.

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