For a few months now, we've had some concerns about Jilly's development. Her speech didn't grow like it should have between 2 and 3 years old. We didn't notice it until after Jason was born, because she is very good at mimicking and repeating phrases and words, as well as non-verbal communication. But she doesn't initiate conversations on her own, or out right ask for something, unless we say it first. For example, if she's thirsty she won't ask for juice, she'll grab our hands, drag us into the kitchen, turn and push our bodies to the fridge, then we'll say "Do you want juice?" and she'll say "Juice!" The situation doesn't seem to be getting worse and the older she gets, the bigger the gap between her and other kids her age. Especially now that she is in Sunbeams, we felt we had to figure it out. So I got in touch with the school district a couple months ago about getting her evaluated. This all started right at the time Steve was laid off, so you can imagine how that didn't add to my stress at all. -_-
I filled out some paperwork that was then reviewed by a team at one of the elementary schools (school psychologist, special ed teacher, speech therapist, and motor therapist). They decided what areas they wanted to evaluate Jilly in. Today was our first appointment. We met with the school psychologist Debbie who explained the process to us. Based on the information I provided Jilly falls into the "Delayed" or "At-Risk" categories for a few different areas. The questionnaire asks some things that are a bit weird, so it's not the most accurate tool but it gave them an idea of where she is at. She will be evaluated in Cognition, Communication (and Social Skills), and Motor Skills. After the evaluations (each is a separate appointment), we will all meet together to discuss the results. If she does qualify for Special Ed, then there will be another meeting where we'll make plans for her treatment. If she is only delayed on speech and it's not severe, she'll probably just do speech therapy once a week at the school. If it is severe and/or there are other delays, she'll most likely got to the developmental preschool, 4 days a week (half-days). She'd even get to ride the bus there and back. All of this has to take place within 35 school days (about 7 weeks), by state law. They usually try to get it done faster, it just depends on how many kids they are dealing with at a time (there are many right now).
After the explanation, she gave me some more questionnaires to fill out and started playing with Jilly. She would put different toys in front of her and observe how she played with them. There were pretty much two reactions. Either she started playing with the toy immediately and appropriately (this happened most of the time) or she'd right away ignore it and try to climb out her chair to get to another toy. There was very little gray area. It was interesting watching her with puzzles, because she would put all the pieces out and then put them back in. She was really good at them and would figure them all out, even some of the harder ones. She can clearly match colors, but we're not sure if she just recognizes that the colors match or if she knows both things are 'blue'.
Debbie played with her with lots of different toys and things, shapes, colors, blocks to stack, balls, etc. She would put out three objects (cup, doll shoe, and ball) and ask Jilly questions like, "Which one do you drink out of?" Even though Jilly was not super into the task and wanted to play with them, once she got her attention, Jilly would grab the appropriate object. Debbie also showed her a tiny figurine of a baby, then would hide it under a cup. She'd put another cup next to it and have Jilly find the baby. They did this a few times, sometimes moving around the cups. As long as Jilly was focused on the task, she'd get it right. It was just hard to keep her attention.
In the end, Debbie told us things we already assumed. Jilly is way behind on where her speech should be at 3 years old. Cognitively, she has good problem solving skills but it's hard to know just how much she understands, because she doesn't respond verbally. Debbie said she wasn't sure if she would qualify her or not, because of that. She wanted to wait and talk to the speech therapist first. She was leaning toward not qualifying at this point. Debbie thinks that it's probably just the lack of language holding Jilly back right now, and once that starts improving there probably won't be any cause for concern cognitively. If it turns out that she truly is behind cognitively, then we can go back and get her that support.
Now we are waiting to hear from the speech therapist to set up the next evaluation. That should happen in the next couple weeks. So the ball is rolling!!! We are making strides toward getting Jilly the help that she needs. It is going to take some time to get it all sorted out, but it is happening. We both feel much more relieved now that things are going and we're figuring it out. I have confidence in those that are evaluating her and I know that we will get this worked out. By the end of February we should have a plan in place for getting her treatment. Hooray!