As I mentioned in an earlier part of our story, Bearhug & Cuddlebug were 3 years old when they were diagnosed, so they were too old to be eligible for early intervention. Instead, we were referred to the school district for special needs services.
The school evaluations take about 3 hours, so we scheduled them for different days. As before, Cuddlebug went first. I think it was about 2 weeks after that when we had his eligibility meeting. His estimated level of play was 24-26 months. He was 3 yrs, 7 mos old (43 months) at the time, so that was about a year and a half behind. His cognitive, language, personal-social, adaptive, and fine motor skills all tested in the 25-32 month range, all significantly delayed relative to where he should have been. They noted that his low cognitive score might well be due to his language delays and not actually an indication of cognitive disability (now we know he has no cognitive issues). With regard to his speech, his intelligibility was estimated at about 70% overall, but they noted that with totally spontaneous speech, without any context clues, he was often impossible to understand (partly due to poor pronunciation combined with a “mushy-mouth” sound, and partly due to unusual word choice).
They found him eligible for special needs preschool and recommended the 2x/week class. He was also eligible for speech through the school, which would be coordinated with his teacher and given during the school day. The school staff guided us through the process of developing his IEP. We set up his private speech and OT for the days he was not in school.
Bearhug’s evaluation was soon after. His test results indicated mild delays, with the most significant area of delay being his language skills. His estimated level of play was 28-30 months, well over a year behind but that was felt to be a reflective of his language delays. Overall, they determined that his delays were not significant enough to be eligible for special needs preschool. He was eligible for speech therapy through the school though, so we set up an IEP for that, in addition to his private speech and OT. We expressed some concerns about whether his performance in a one-on-one evaluation was really indicative of how he would do in a larger classroom setting given his sensory issues, but there was no way they could actually evaluate that until he was in a classroom setting.
During the time that Cuddlebug was in school, we enrolled Bearhug in a gymnastics class and a t-ball/soccer class. He really liked the gymnastics. I think it helped that there were only two students, him and one other little boy the same age. They got along great, and they both got plenty of individual attention with the teacher. He didn’t like the t-ball/soccer class so much. It was a bigger group, about 8 or 9 kids, and there was a fair amount of time just standing around.
We saw significant progress from both boys once we got them started in therapy, especially with Cuddlebug since he had the benefit of his preschool experience supporting his developmental goals.
That fall, we enrolled both boys in Pre-K, which was at the same school as the special needs classes. Cuddlebug would continue to attend his special needs class twice a week, and would attend a regular pre-K class the rest of the week. Bearhug would be in a regular pre-K class all week, with pull out twice a week for speech.
We tried to give his teacher a heads up about our concerns, but she kind of blew us off. I’m sure she meets a lot of nervous parents at the beginning of the school year. “He’ll be fine,” she assured us. Not so much...
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