Monday, January 14, 2013

Sometimes we just need a little therapy...

No I'm not talking about me or the kind where you get to lay down on a couch. I've mentioned before that Parker has some "speech issues". Namely: he doesn't enunciate a lot of words very well, he flips syllables around, and often adds an "s" to the end of words. This will be redundant for many and it will be a long post, but for "journaling" purposes I want it on here while I still remember most of it.

I first talked to Parker's pediatrician about my concerns with his speech delay (at the time) when he turned 2. She wasn't concerned since boys tend to be a bit delayed, Parker understood simple instructions, and could communicate a few words by signing (more, milk, hungry). She told us if he still wasn't talking in a few months to let her know. Well Avery's 6 month appointment was a couple of months later and I brought it up. Again she wasn't overly concerned b/c he had developed a few words by this point, but since I really seemed concerned by it that she would give me a referral. I had talked to a few friends whose sons were in therapy. My friends said it was free so imagine my surprise when I got a HUGE bill for the evaluation Parker had in December of 2012 that basically told us that he was in the lower end of average, but didn't require therapy. Did I mention I had just started staying home with the kids and we only had 1 income? Okaaay, thanks for nothing and now I have this ginormous bill to pay. What gives?!? Why did I have to pay and my friends didn't? Well come to find out they went through the county. Well, geez, why did my doctor give me a referral for an expensive evaluation?!? Anyway, the therapist said to bring him back in if he doesn't improve within the next 4-6 months. My thoughts: I'm not bringing him back here to pay another huge bill for you to say he's fine and bring him back in a few months. So I worked with Parker and within a few weeks of me just staying home and just talking about anything and everything (I'm walking to the kitchen. I'm opening the drawer to get a cup. I'm pouring some milk in the cup.). I felt kinda silly, but when I started to notice the changes I was excited!

Parker's speech continued to progress and he was even talking in 3-5 word sentences, but I noticed he wasn't able to pronounce things very well. I worked with him and over time certain words would get fixed, but others wouldn't. For example, Parker still can't say "Lola" (my mom). He says "Wowa". Usually if we say words slowly and try it a few times he can repeat it, but he will revert back to his old way of saying things.

He also started to switch syllables around. Most notably saying "nask" for "snack". About 6 months ago he used to say "nack" but then switched to saying "nask" no matter what I try. I also found it weird that he could say "Sissy", but couldn't say "Missy" (his aunt) - he'd say "Mee-hee". Probably within the last few months he started adding the "s" sound to the end of words. For example: "Mommy you go (to) works?" "I (have a) coughs."

His speech improved quite a bit when he started preschool in August, but I still felt he was delayed and I was having to do a lot of translating for family and friends. I again talked to his pediatrician at his 3 year appointment and asked for the free option. She advised that since it is through the county, the waiting period might be a while and those who are going to kindergarten may have higher priority than Parker. I understood, but wanted to get the ball rolling. I advised his teacher, Mrs. B., of my plans and also asked her questions such as: "Do you understand him when he talks?", "Do his friends at school understand him?", etc. She advised that she would work a little more closely with him and email me back with her responses. A little over a week later, she advised she understands some of the things he says and when she can't he repeats what he wants and will occasionally get frustrated if she doesn't understand. There weren't any issues regarding his friends. She also advised that it might take a while to start therapy, but she would support me in a whatever decision I made. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Mrs. B?!? I went ahead and filled out the paperwork to have Parker evaluated. After a lot of back and forth paperwork and calls, Parker was finally evaluated on 11/9/12. They said he did exceptionally well in many areas, but they do see that he may need speech therapy. They advised that they would have "the teacher" review everything and they will get back with me.

Side note: in the evaluation, one of the "tests" Parker did, the teacher had a picture of a spoon, a knife, and a fork laid out. Then she put a picture of ice cream down and ask Parker what she would use to eat the ice cream. Parker said "poon" and pointed to the spoon. She also did something with a fork and a knife, which Parker got right. Then came a picture of a slice of bread...she said, if I wanted to put some jelly on the bread, what would I use? Without hesitation, Parker says: "poon" and points the spoon. The therapist looked at me questioningly and I about died laughing. I wasn't given the chance to explain that I use the back of a spoon to spread peanut butter on his sandwiches b/c our dinner knives are sharp and will tear holes into the bread. So he thinks spoons are used to spread things. lol She did explain that you use a knife and she went back to the bread again and used butter instead of jelly and he said knife the second time around.

I finally heard back from them around Thanksgiving and they mailed me the "results" and advised that I would meet with another set of people to review the results and find out whether he qualifies for therapy or not. Grr! Just tell me already! Anyway, his appointment wasn't until 1/9/13!!! Kevin, Mrs. B, and a bunch of other specialists were "invited" to the meeting. I had waved "my right" for all these other people to be there. Mrs. B had other kids she was teaching that day and told her not to worry about going even though she said she would be happy to go. Besides, she had already given her opinion to the assessment team so she didn't really need to go.

Anyway, last Wednesday, my neighbors watched the kids bright and early while I met with the assessment team. I was afraid Parker wouldn't qualify. Kevin reminded me that it is a good thing b/c that means his speech isn't that bad. But I didn't feel the same way. I felt like Parker already wears glasses and an eye patch and could potentially get made fun of for wearing glasses. I don't want kids to make fun of him b/c he has speech problems. I worried myself sick driving there and thinking about how I would get on my hands and knees and beg if they said he didn't qualify. Well after going over the reports with me, they finally told me: "Parker QUALIFIES!!!!". It took all I had in me not to jump up and do a happy dance!

It was a sad morning for me! I was not ready for this day to come so soon!

Here are things I learned in that 30 minute morning:
1. Parker will be going 4 days a week, 3 hours a day (mornings). He is doing the more extensive therapy b/c I had advised that I do have to translate for most people. Apparently he was borderline needing extensive therapy. We are going to start with extensive and scale back if needed.

2. Since his therapy will be in the mornings, I had to pull him out of his current pre-school. I had already told Mrs. B that I was having this meeting, but neither of us was prepared for Parker's last day with her to be the next day! Parker has grown so close to her and it completely melted my heart when he climbed up into her lap at his Christmas program and she cuddled him for a bit (no favorites here, a few other students also climbed up onto her lap after Parker got off).

3. Parker will be going to an ELEMENTARY school that has a Pre-K class. It will be considered an ESE (Exceptional Student Education), but his class is solely for kids who need speech therapy. The school is not the elementary school that we are zoned for (this school is 95% the reason why we bought our house - it's one of the few "A" schools in our county) and he will be going to a Title 1 school. However, a friend who teaches at a Title 1 school told me that this isn't necessarily a bad thing. She said Title 1 schools get a bad rap, but they get a lot of funding b/c of that title and it may actually benefit Parker. I actually called our zoned school b/c I found out they have a Pre-K program and offer speech therapy as well. But the kind that Parker needs isn't what they offer and the lady I spoke with spoke very highly of Ms. Phyllis. I was surprised she knew her by name since I didn't mention her name so that immediately put me at ease.

4. Parker will be getting 1 hour of speech therapy and 2 hours of "preschool" where they will do arts and crafts, play on the playground, etc. But many/most things relate in some way to speech therapy.

5. Parker's "contract" is for 1 year, but he can "graduate" before the year is up if he progresses well. He will continue to have therapy for as long as he needs it - we would just need to "renew" the contract.

new backpack all only had a gallon zip lock bag with a change of clothes and socks

That same day, we went to Parker's new school to pick up his school registration. I told Parker that he was going to a new school. Mrs. B and Ms. Julie and all his buddies from school wouldn't be there, but he would have a fun new teacher and make new friends. He was excited, but I was in a bit of a fog. I couldn't believe I was filling this kind of paperwork out! I wasn't supposed to be doing it for another 1.5 yrs! Ms. P was at the school and they tracked her down and said she wanted to meet us (she didn't have class that morning). She was so nice and talked to Parker for a minute and said he talked pretty well. She advised that she only has 2 other kids in her class - 2 boys: Paxton and Brodie. She said goodbye to the kids (Avery was being her usual self and was saying hi and bye to every stranger that walked by) and told Parker she'd see him on Monday. Throughout the weekend, I asked Parker what his new teacher's name is and he'd laugh and say: "Madagascar" (one of his favorite movies). He did this every time I asked, but he knows and says her name: "Ms. Phee-wis".

Fast forward to today: I got both kids out of the car since I was told that I had to go to the office first and not go through the car line. The "office lady" walked me to where Ms. P the car line. Ms. P had Parker sit on the bench with the other pre-schoolers. He met Brodie and Paxton and a few of the other kids. Paxton was checking Parker out and Brodie seemed pretty quiet. Ms. P asked if I wanted stay and see the classroom or I could come pick him up early. I said I'd do it then since Avery seemed to be in a good mood and she's usually cranky when we pick Parker up from school b/c she's hungry/tired. We waited for about 10 min for all the pre-k kids to get there and walked together. There was another teacher/aide there helping gather the other kids.

it doesn't look it, but he was excited...just may have taken one too many pics. lol

While we walked, Paxton must have asked why Parker was there. Ms. P reminded him that she explained last week that Parker would be joining them and now he has a new friend. Ms. P advised that Paxton had only been there for 2 weeks. Paxton doesn't seem so sure of Parker - he kind of watches him a bit wearily. Brodie and Paxton showed Parker how to "check in" (move his velcroed name tag from the chart w/ a pic of a house to the chart with a pic of a school), he put his backpack (had to buy him a big one since he needs it to put a big binder in) got his cubby (his "symbol" is a tractor...would have been perfect if it was a black train, but no luck), then they wash their hands and pick out a toy from only one side of the shelf and sit at the table...too bad all the "good" stuff was on the other side of the shelf and P kept inching  over to the other side.

When we pulled into the school parking lot, Parker asked where Mrs. B and Miss Julie were. I reminded him they were at his old school and he is going to his new school. I was really afraid he would have major anxiety about going to a new school and not having Mrs. B or his friends there. But he did really well, I was saying hi and waving to a bunch of older kids when I pulled him out of his car seat. He even told me: "They said hi to me!". Not sure if they did or not - I didn't hear anything, but maybe they waved. 

Ms. P and I talked for a bit. She advised that the kids get a free breakfast...nice since it's such a battle to get P to eat at home...or at least eat it fast enough so that we aren't running late. I mentioned that Parker only gets half juice/half water and she advised these are pre-packaged juices so no luck for me and they get to make their own choices as far as what they want to eat: I think they have to pick a fruit (no problem there, he loves fruit) and what kind of milk (at my wide eyes, she smiled and said one of the other kids always chooses chocolate, I laughed and said Parker will likely choose chocolate if he sees another kid drinking it!). I sound controlling when it comes to food and I am a bit lot. I really prefer my kids to not drink juice - why drink it when it's better to eat fresh fruit. If they're thirsty, they drink milk during meal times and water any other time. I don't cook with a lot of salt (if at all), I don't put butter on steamed veggies, I don't offer ranch for dipping veggies, or ketchup for chicken nuggets - it's not necessary. I want my kids to learn to like the natural taste of food. They don't need chocolate or sweets. That's not to say I don't give my kids sweets or juice. I do, but just not frequently. Anyway, I went off on a tangent there!

I've never been called into the Principal's office, but I kinda felt like I was in trouble as we sat and waited for the "front office" lady to take us to Pre-K.

I was still there when the teacher/aide (I'm thinking aide b/c she can't just pop in/out if she is a teacher) who was helping out at the car line came in the class room. When she saw me, she commented something along the lines of: "Momma, you're still here? You need to learn to let go." I was a bit taken aback by this b/c 1. I wasn't still there b/c I chose it - Ms. P was talking to me and explaining stuff - I wasn't asking a bunch of questions. 2. How does she know that my kid didn't previously go to another school and I have issues with letting go? 3. WHO SAYS THAT?!? I think Ms. P was taken aback also b/c she looked at her and said: "She's fine, we're just talking.". Then the aide was all nice and saying how cute my kids are. Lady, you may be super nice, but right now the hair on the back of my neck is raised b/c I'm annoyed!

sitting on the bench outside of the Pre-K building

She left soon after that episode and I watched Ms. P and the kids do circle time. There are laminated pieces of paper on the floor and Parker found his "red tractor" and sat on it. They sang a cute little song where the kids stand, spin in a circle, wave and say "hi". Parker watched Paxton and Brodie before it was his turn to stand up, only he got a bit distracted by the toys that he had wanted to play with earlier - he was now on the same side as the previously (and still) forbidden toys. The kids each get to pick their jobs (Parker went last and picked the "stop and think" job - not sure what it entails, but I'm hoping it helps Parker "stop and think" before acting b/c he tends to act rashly and gets a bit crazy. Then they dressed this little figure according to the weather outside. One thing I noticed is that Ms. P speaks slower and enunciates when she talks to the kids. When she talked to Paxton, she told him what to do with his tongue/mouth when he wasn't able to say something correctly. Ok, I'm liking this teacher!

I picked Parker up from school and Brodie's Mom was ahead of me. It was only the 2 of us there so she talked to Ms. P for a bit about something before I grabbed Parker. I overheard little snippets and apparently her daughter goes to the school that we are zoned for so she lives somewhat near us. We said hello and asked how old P was b/c he's tall. Meanwhile, P was asking about "dee a bill" and kept asking for a few minutes. I couldn't understand him and asked if he wanted to go to Jacksonville. Ms. P overheard and said he has been asking about that for the last 30 min of class, but wouldn't take her to what it was he needed/wanted. He asked again and I figured out the last part after I asked him if he wanted a bear and he nodded. Ms. P said she had dolls, but no bears. I also found out that he wanted to "dress a bear". I was confused - we didn't have any bears or dolls that we dress up. I asked if he did this at Aunt Missy's yesterday and he said no. But while buckling him in it dawned on me what he was talking about and I told Ms. P that he was talking about the bear/figure they dressed this morning during weather time. Ding! Ding! Ding! Score for Mommy! Ms. P advised they would do that tomorrow too. Anyway, she said he had a great morning and did very well.

Side note: Parker keeps asking to "dress the bear". He popped up from his nap (I woke him up) and said he wanted to dress the bear.

report on his first day...had a great day!

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