Anna and I are heading this afternoon to hang with our friends at the Place Where They Tell You If Your Child Qualifies For Special Services Or Not.
Anna has some speech delays. I'm pretty cool with this as I know a large group of kids grow out of this. In our situation Anna is not only a delay but also a regression. She is losing sounds she was able to make. Some would say this is a function of having her best friend be a 1 (almost 2 next week!!!!) year old, but truth be told, Em is slowly passing Anna in her own acquisition of speech. The other side is that other people have a hard time understanding her, and the kicker, Anna is so frustrated with communicating, she's starting to stop trying. I won't have that.
Anna has receptive language delays. She can follow directions in one step - if described in the proper manner. No superflous language, no description of what you are looking for. If you need her to pick up the yellow towel on the floor behind her, the conversation must go as follows:
-Please turn around
-Please put your hand on the ground by your feet
-See that thing you are touching
-Pick it up
-Please hand it to me
This has about a 60% chance of working. If there is anything else on the floor near the object, you will add about 3 steps. Do not think of saying "Could you please hand me the yellow towel on the floor behind you?" Just don't. 30 minutes later, tears and hugs followed, you might have the yellow towel. You might not.
It isn't all the time, which lulled me into believing it was stubborn 3 year old behavior. Then I noticed I just stopped asking Anna for anything. It was simply miles easier to ask Emma to get it. I can say, "Hey Em, can you please get the phone from the charger next to the TV" and she'll run out of the room and happily return a minute later, phone in hand.
What made me realize it wasn't stubborn behavior (well, at least not all the time) was the realization that she's trying so hard to do what I ask. She's putting forth the effort, sometimes 10 times as much as anyone else would, and just can't figure it out. It's like you are waiting for that moment of clarity to "click" and it just takes so much longer for that to happen with her. She gets so upset. I know some little kids can't find things when they are right in front of them, Julia would be one of them. Anna tries and tries.
Anna has some fine motor skills delays. She is still struggling with how to maneuver a fork and spoon. She uses her hands whenever no one is looking, and even when we are, she still uses her hands to put her food on the spoon or fork most of the time. Sometimes after watching her try to eat (and boy does this girl love to eat), I'll just look away for a while so she can shovel it in her mouth. I know, I know. But you would too. Once again, when you see how hard she tries.... We've spent the last year doing things to help foster her fine motor skills, having her color and draw more often, having her lace cheerios and/or fun beads, doing the whole pick out the rice thing. It has gotten better, but not much. This became evident when she went on preschool visits.
I know. These things all sound like your normal almost 4 year old. I understand that. It's HER reaction that has us persuing the evaluations. She is just as or way more so frustrated with these things (minus the potty training.... she's pretty non-chalant about that whole affair).
So, today is step 3... we'll see where it goes....
Anna update - It went sooooo well. She did great. So well, that we are not pursuing additional evaluations until after she's in preschool in the Fall - IF she's struggling.
The evaluator worked with me on talking with Anna on how to handle other people not understanding her. DUH. I never thought of that. No really, I didn't. The more excited she got the less she was inteligible but that's normal for kids her age. At this point the three sounds she's dropping are age appropriate. There was one inapppropriate sound, but she only did it occasionally which indicates she might already be working it out. So............. we're all good!