Thursday, 15 December 2011

More Evaluations

Another day, another therapist appointment. Thankfully, this one both started and ended without any traumatic events. The speech therapist was supposed to come earlier this week to do Nic's evaluation, but she came down with stomach flu and had to cancel. I am very grateful for this, as Nic seems to catch everything he is exposed to and then passes it on to me, and I certainly don't feel like getting the flu right now. Today was our make-up appointment, and it went very well. She believes that he is less delayed than the developmental therapist implied (which I agree with) and that his receptive language is actually not too far behind age level. His expressive language is delayed - she ranks his expressive delay at 38%, so we will be receiving "extra help and support" aka almost free speech therapy. I am so excited that he qualified.

Perhaps that sounds crazy...when I first started thinking about going through this process again (since we did the round of evaluations for Tommy), I was thinking that I did not want the stress of cleaning up my apartment to have therapists over every week. It is so small, and the kids have so few places to play, that I feel like we have two carpets: the regular one and the extra coating of toys and books. Then I considered how much more stressed I would be if he was assigned a very large delay but missed qualifying for services (just like what happened with Tommy). This made me reconsider my position. I know that I simply don't have the same quality time with Nic that I had with Tommy. Although I make an effort to spend time with Nic one-on-one, and often we get some good play time in while Tommy plays by himself, it just isn't the same as when you have only one child and they get all your attention. On top of that, I'm more tired than I used to be (either because I'm pregnant, older, or a lovely combination of the two), and I know that that isn't going away anytime soon.

Thus I was practically holding my breath waiting to see what the therapist would say at the end of our appointment. Of course she started with the "good news" and when she said that Nic's receptive language delay was so small I was actually a little worried. Then she started talking about his expressive language delay, and I think she was trying to break the news of his delay to me gently, not realizing that this actually made me more nervous because I was afraid she would tell me he was 29% delayed like Tommy's speech evaluator did (30% is the threshold to qualify for services). Little did she know that I wasn't about to protest or say I didn't need help.

Her theory on his delays was fairly simple: time spent in orphanage + possible fluid in ears + adoption occurring at a key linguistic stage = delay. I was particularly interested in that last part, because in adoption you usually assume that getting a child home earlier is better (and really it is). We were discussing Tommy's language development, which was faster considering he joined our family at fourteen months, and she explained that a child who has a solid language system developed (even in another language) might adapt much better to a new language than a child who was switched languages in the middle of constructing a linguistic system. An interesting theory. My personal theory which is based on nothing measurable or scientific but on my mother's instinct is that regardless of where he was in his linguistic systems, being adopted was more traumatic for Nic than it was for Tommy. After seeing Nic become more and more who he is over the past few months I can say with full confidence that the child we met and brought home was just a shadow of himself. Tommy loves going new places. He loves new people. In general he adjusts to things well. That aspect of his personality was beneficial in his transition into our family and then to the United States. Nicolas is not a transition loving guy. When we adopted him he withdrew into himself and it took him longer to adjust to being in our family. I'm not saying that his first months with us were miserable, or that he never enjoyed himself, just that it took him quite a while to let his guard down and learn to express himself and I think that affected his communication with us.

The next step is a meeting to discuss the course of action for Nic's "support." I don't know how often he will receive "support" (which I sort of wish they would just call speech therapy because that seems more accurate to me), but I assume it will probably be the minimum since his delay is not that great and the therapist said she doesn't think it stems from a deeper problem (in case you are wondering, this one didn't bring up autism or FAS). She also said she thinks he will graduate from "support" before he ages out of the system, which occurs at age three.

On a somewhat side note, in my crazy googling after the last meeting I came across an article on FAS and adoption that featured some study where adopting parents rated the attractiveness of children, and found that FAS correlated with low scores for attractiveness. The conclusion was that people think children with FAS are not good looking, and since my ADORABLE son had just been suspected as having FAS I felt very indignant about this. That last therapist must not appreciate African beauty.


Tom said...

he is a good looking baby - and I am totally impartial.

AHH said...

He is extremely good-looking, and I too am impartial. I've seen kids with FAS and I don't see it here.

Also, don't worry about cleaning up when the speech therapist comes!I'm sure s/he's seen it all before. Just kick a path to the sofa.