Early Intervention


Today is the day.  Little Man’s second developmental intervention session and the first full week of therapy. DI is Tuesdays/Thursdays and speech therapy will be on Fridays, but this week it’s Wednesday because he’s finally having his hearing test this Friday. (Of course he has ANOTHER ear infection… but this time it will be 6 days on antibiotics by then.) His initial session last Tuesday went well, I think. I hope his therapist is able to catch him up. And I’m very much looking forward to the speech sessions starting. Little Man is aching to talk, but he just can’t get the words out. I think the shove will propel him and he’ll be a chatterbox (like his mama) in no time.

Life is going full throttle as well.  As I wrote briefly yesterday, Little Man is now TWO!  It’s actually the only number he knows.  (When he counts, he goes “two… two…”) He finally needs a haircut.  And it’s funny, it’s not like he has a full head of hair.  Thus far, his hair is actually fine and somewhat sparse. But what hair he DOES have is long and crazy curly. So it’s time. I’ll miss his baby curls when they’re snipped. But he needs that cut. And maybe it will help his hair to grow? I keep hearing that. Any hairdressers read my blog? Please feel free to pipe in.

Since I just linked my blog to Facebook, it’s possible some of my friends will start reading this. I guess I tend to overshare and I’m working to make my thoughts more general and not specific. My husband is my opposite–extremely private–and I don’t want to betray confidences. But at the same point, I don’t think Little Man’s speech and developmental delays are anything to hide. Nor do I think my fears should be hidden. There is nothing shameful about a child needing help or possibly having a problem.

Now I still think and hope that Little Man’s tantrums and behavior issues are mostly due to his delays. And there are times when he is EXTREMELY good and well behaved for a 2-year-old.  And there are times when his behavior is just typical for a toddler. They have fits. They scream if they don’t get their way. I also know that most 2-year-olds at this time are saying more than he is and are more advanced socially. But my son mostly has a smile on his face and he is so affectionate. I have a strong belief that by his 3rd birthday, he’ll be typical and even more fun to be around.

I love my son so much. I’d do basically anything for  him. I realize that I’ve done TOO much FOR him–instead of pushing him to do things–and I’m working to correct that. I don’t want my only to be a spoiled brat. I want him to share (whenever toddlers figure that one out) and play with other children. I want him to make friends and NOT be a “lonely only” and I want him to be happy. Childhood is so brief and I want him to enjoy it, without any obstacles. So catching things “early” is a good thing.

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Last Thursday I was supposed to drop Little Man off at his school in the morning and then come back home to have my IFSP meeting with Early Intervention.  But when he woke up, he felt quite hot to the touch and I took his fever with an ear thermometer and it was 100.7 and he seemed somewhat clingy, so I kept him home.   I still had the meeting (in the kitchen, while Little Man watched classic Disney cartoons on the DVD player in the family room) and the plan is set for him to have speech therapy once a week and work with a developmental interventionist (generally a special ed teacher) twice a week–that’s 3 hours total per week.  We set simple goals (6 month) of speaking in 2 word purposeful sentences, saying his own name, responding to his name and following adult-led play for 10 minutes. I also want him to be less “dependent” on his Donald Duck toy. I guess more on this once the therapies start, by the end of August.

When the EI team left, I planned to give Little Man lunch and put him down for his nap. He just seemed not hungry, though he ate a little, and felt MUCH warmer. So I took his temperature and it was 101.7! This might not seem like a lot to those moms whose little ones have had fevers.  But this, honestly, was his first one over 101.  I managed to get some children’s Tylenol in him (Dude had picked some up, since we wanted to have it handy) and he napped, badly, for short periods of time. Maybe two 20 minute stretches. When he woke he was VERY clingy and we just watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the DVR.  I managed to take him out with me, for a short trip, to Rite Aid to get him Children’s Ibuprofen. Since his fever was still 101.5, I gave him Tylenol at 4 pm and then Motrin before bedtime.

The next day, Friday July 29th, he woke up feeling cool to the touch. But I took his temp again, in the ear, and he fought me like crazy. (Should have been a hint.) He was normal, but he was acting strangely. He kept crying and screaming and saying “Boo boo! Boo boo!” By 9:30 am he was spent, and I put him down for an early nap. I planned to sleep, too, as I’d had little sleep the night before, listening to Little Man crying in HIS sleep. But I called the pediatrician before I conked out and scheduled an appointment for 12:15, as his behavior was quite odd and I knew something was off.  We both napped and when he woke I gave him an early lunch (not that he ate much, but I managed to get some yogurt and blueberries into him) and we headed to the doctor.

Of course at the doctor’s office, he was running around like crazy and giggling. It was like nothing was wrong. So I thought I’d taken him there for nothing. And after a HUGE fit when the nurse tried to get his oxygen levels (first on his finger, then on his foot) and a broken baby scale (we used the “big” one and he was 31.8 lb), we were finally seen by our favorite pediatrician in the group. He checked Little Man out, listened to his chest, looked in his throat (no 2 year molars yet), left ear… right ear… YEP.  He had an ear infection!  That happened to be MY first illness (at age 3). So he’s copying his mama and earlier. Makes sense that he gets sick once he starts daycare/preschool, right?

We head home to get the prescribed Amoxicillin (pedi called it in) with a brief stop at my office (was there too long, but I had no choice) and I managed to “force-feed” him the bubblegum pink medication close to 4 pm. I thought he’d take a late nap, but nope. I think the flavors in the antibiotics are all sugar because he was so hyper after that first dose and I felt like a limp noodle. The second dose was easier but not by much. And Dude’s train was VERY late so he was in a pissy mood and got home late. He didn’t even want to see Little Man, which made me upset, since he wanted his daddy. But I put him to bed (around 8:15 or so) by myself and he slept mostly OK.

Now to add insult to injury, *I* came down with Bronchitis this week! So both of us are on antibiotics. Me, a Z-pack, since we’re 90% sure I’m allergic to Penicillin.  And with a switch in our health insurance, I had to pay out of pocket and am canceling other appointments this week. But that’s for another vent.

In less than 10 days now, Little Man will turn 2.  Time goes so fast. I’m grateful it took 23 months for him to get sick the first time.  And he’s doing pretty well now (day 8 of antibiotics) and did much better in school this week. I, however, am EXHAUSTED.

This has been weighing on me for some weeks and is a big part of why I haven’t been blogging again, like I said I would. What is a “typical toddler?” Does your almost-2-year old listen at all? Do they participate in circle time at The Little Gym, Gymboree or your local library program or Y? When you call their name, do they turn their head to look at you? Can they speak in sentences, even if only two words. Do they say something to get your attention or do they point and grunt?

My toddler doesn’t usually turn to look at me when I call his name. Though I’m pretty sure he can hear (and am having a hearing test on Friday to confirm that). My toddler says many individual words in response to something–like if Dora says “Who do you ask when you need to know where to go?” and he’ll say “Map!”  Or he’ll point out the hippo as the mouseketool in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cartoon. But he won’t TALK to me.

And the tantrums. He’ll flip out if he A) Can’t do something he wants to do, B) Doesn’t want to do something, C) Is unable to do something (like put a square peg in a round hole) and D) if overtired or hungry. D doesn’t worry me so much. But A-C do. And the lack of speech. And the NOT participating at ALL (or barely) in his Little Gym class. So on June 21, 2011, I called New Jersey Early Intervention.  They took a lot of information over the phone and an intake coordinator called me and after our phone conversation, scheduled a free evaluation.  That was on July 13th. Little Man qualified.

The two evaluators, a speech therapist and an occupational therapist, found that Little Man has delays in 1) Communication, Speech & Language (which I expected), 2) Social/Emotional Development and 3) Cognitive ability. I had my first meeting with EI last week to go over the plan in general and my cost participation, as it has not been free in over 7 years and there is a copay based on annual salary. My next meeting is to set up my IFSP (individualized family service plan) and set up what type of therapies Little Man will receive. Once I’ve signed off on the plan, services begin within 30 days. So by the end of August.

So since then a lot of thoughts have been going through my head.  Are there JUST developmental delays going on or is something else wrong? Little Man has, in my opinion, some red flags for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Though it could be typical toddler behavior. Maybe? I’m no longer sure of “typical.”  I’ve bolded the ones I’m worried about.

  • The child does not respond to his/her name.
  • The child cannot explain what he/she wants.
  • Language skills or speech are delayed.
  • The child doesn’t follow directions.
  • At times, the child seems to be deaf.
  • The child seems to hear sometimes, but not others.
  • The child doesn’t point or wave bye-bye.
  • The child used to say a few words or babble, but now he/she doesn’t.
  • The child throws intense or violent tantrums.
  • The child has odd movement patterns.
  • The child is hyperactive, uncooperative, or oppositional.
  • The child doesn’t know how to play with toys.
  • The child doesn’t smile when smiled at.
  • The child has poor eye contact.
  • The child gets “stuck” on things over and over and can’t move on to other things.
  • The child seems to prefer to play alone.
  • The child gets things for him/herself only.
  • The child is very independent for his/her age.
  • The child does things “early” compared to other children.
  • The child seems to be in his/her “own world.”
  • The child seems to tune people out.
  • The child is not interested in other children.
  • The child walks on his/her toes.
  • The child shows unusual attachments to toys, objects, or schedules (i.e., always holding a string or having to put socks on before pants.)
  • Child spends a lot of time lining things up or putting things in a certain order.

Little Man does line things up, but I wouldn’t say a LOT of time. But there are a few things that worry me.  I’m on a wait list with a developmental pediatrician to evaluate him fully–not just for ASD but for his development in general. Though I’m hopeful that some of the behaviors are just toddler quirks or due to his delays.

Honestly, I am becoming bitter about how “typical” (because I won’t say normal) others’ toddlers are. I have lots of mom friends from the internet and I love their cyber friendship and counsel. But when I see how well they are doing. Talking. Interacting well with others. Even singing songs. I feel like I’ve failed. I feel so worried that my son will not go ahead in life. And he’s not even 2!

Little Man is still SO affectionate–even though he won’t give kisses. He likes to snuggle. He likes to play with me and his father. He loves seeing his cousins. He mostly always has a smile on his face. But he’s not adjusting well to new situations (ie. daycare, that I started him in 3 times a week for a few hours) and the tantrums are getting worse, probably due to that.

I know I need to get over myself. There are children with REAL special needs and this could be NOTHING but a minor glitch. But I seem to obsess over things (always have) and it’s hard to get past this.

Little Man is my only child and I want the best for him.  And I want him to be typical. Once he’s there, then I’ll look towards exceptional.