Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Evaluation Update

At Grace's three year old physical, I discussed with her pediatrician where she was in comparison to the three-year old milestones. Grace was fairly close and we had trouble determining if the things that Grace did not do well were a lack of ability or interest. I discussed this with her day care teachers at the time as well. I guess the general feeling was that she might be starting to lag behind a bit so we should have her evaluated at the Intermediate Unit (the kindergarten/school readiness program for children ages 3 to 5). I submitted the paperwork and learned that the first step in the process is a screening. Depending on the results from the screening, she would or would not be referred for an evaluation. Then if there was a full evaluation, the result of that would determine if she required therapies or services or not.

We did Grace's initial screening in April 2009. At that time, Grace's raw score fell below where it should be but the woman conducting the screening felt that the score did not truely reflect where Grace was at. The school phychologist was called in to give her opinion. Grace's evaluation was scheduled just a few weeks after she was in the hospital in spetic shock so there was some concern that her recent illness was negatively influencing her score. Coupled with the fact that Grace did not do as instructed but gave her own version of the response which was scored as incorrect. For example, there was an exercies to see how she did making all of the sounds, she was given sentences to repeat so they could check how she did making specific sounds. Grace repeated the sentences paraphrasing and leaving out the sounds/words they were testing for but essentially repeating the meaning of what she was asked to repeat. We all agreed that maybe it was best to give her 6 more months and do another screening at that time.

Well, I didn't call to reschedule her until November instead of October and then when she was finally scheduled to go back in, she was in the hospital. When I called to reschedule, they decided that they would skip the screening (since she basically already failed it!) and just go for the evaluation. I finally got that scheduled for February 1, 2010.

The evaluation process was very well organized and amazing to watch. Grace just 'played' with all of the folks evaluating her and never once seemed ill at ease. The team were obviously quite skilled. She had a school phsycologist, a speech therapist, and occupational therapist and a physical therapist participate in the evaluation process. When I rescheduled the screening, I listed concerns in cognative abilities and speech. However, when I first submitted it, I had listed her motor skills as a concern - both fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Since they were still going off the first screening, they evaluated her for all of it.

It took a lot longer than I expected to get the results back from the evaluation. Basically, when I called to find out when to expect to hear back, I was scheduled for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). I made the comment that I guessed that meant she was recommended for some services. The scheduler only confirmed that and said it would all be reviewed with us.

Her speech which was of a concern to us, was slightly behind where it should be but not enough to warrent speech therapies. However, they did give us strategies to help her with some little things. Her cognative abilites are behind where they should be and she was recommended for services for that. Her fine and gross motor skills were very much behind. Her adaptive skills (dressing herself and feeding herself) were on target. And her social skills were well above average. I guess I was right on when I speculated that she is covering up for her gaps by being cute and charming! Anyhow, she will receive three therapy sessions a week - one for cognative skills, physical therapy and occupational therapy for her motor skills.

The best part of her therapies is that she recieves them right at her day care. She is in an environment where she is safe and comfortable and surrounded by all things familiar. The IU has a classroom in the daycare to work with the kids requiring therapies. So Grace gets to go from one classroom to the other and they therapists send us notes home and show her regular day care teachers what they can do to help her work on her needed skills. This is just one more reason why we love our day care :-)

I was somewhat upset by the results. Not that she needs services (that she is getting them I am glad) but more that the seizures have taken so much from her. When Grace was 18 months old, she was one of the best talkers in her group. She was tiny but she kept up with all of the kids. I liked being naive about the damage the seizures were doing to her. Now my eyes are opened. We have to fight for control of these seizures and be as vigilant as we can possibly be. We also need to keep working with her to try to help her catch up to where she should be. Afterall, she is scheduled to start kindergarten in September 2011!

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