Friday, 6 December 2013

Silent Night

A while back we had Jack assessed for speech and language development and it was determined that he was a normal child who was a little slow to speak.  We were happy and we started to employ some of the tips and tricks we had learned to help encourage language and saw some slow but steady progress.  A couple of months passed and things started to falter: days went by without new words, he began to replace words he had already known with syllable sounds in place of the actual word.  He was getting frustrated and so were we.  Molly and other kids at daycare were belting out full sentences and we were lucky to get two words in a row out of Jack.  We never want to compare Jack to his sister or to other children, but he was falling behind, quickly and it was growing more apparent by the day.

We connected with our childcare providers, who have access to language and development assessment services that are covered by the city and one of the many benefits of licensed care within Toronto.  An independent assessor would come into the daycare and observe Jack "in his natural habitat"* several times, during different times of the day over several weeks, provide us transcripts of each observation and then eventually a recommendation report on suggested follow-up testing and/or learning plans.   

Part way through the assessment period our worker recommended that we record words that Jack says spontaneously and ones he repeats back after hearing.  So we did, when we remembered, in the evenings and weekends over a one week period.  Below is a sample of a three day period we observed on evenings.

Jack Spontaneous Words:
Box, Ping-Pong, Monkey, Bear, Pink Bear, Blue Bear, Temper, Open, Stuck, Beep Beep, Diaper, Powder, Balls, Coin, Bye, Time-out, Backpack, Coat, Shoes, Hat, Light, Necklace, Glasses, Fish, Cup, Cat, Coke, Pop, Thanks, Uh-oh, Bye, Banana, Apples, Tasty, in the box, Closed, Help, Molly, Jack, Bath, Delicious, Phone, Car, Truck, Mom, Dad, Nana, Poppa, Drew, No, Yes, Drums, This, Knock Knock, Milk, Cracker
Sings Ba Ba Black Sheep (disjointed), Sings Ring around the Rosie (disjointed)

Jack Repeated Words:
Hungry, Cookie, Bar (granola), bottle, pull, candle, juice, mushroom, elephant, soup, pasta, contacts, chicken, meat, brushes, broccoli, Katie, Erika, fork, doggy, treasure, potty

We noticed, happily, that in just a three day period Jack shared over 60 words (many more if you count the random lyrics of the songs he sings).  We also noted that over 57% of his repeated words were related to food!

On Wednesday I went in to get the results of Jack's assessment.  Once again they reported that he is a normal, sweet and social child who is slow to speak. He also participates in all aspects of his program at daycare well.  This sounded familiar, but there was more: he isn't picking up lower tones or sounds which could be as simple as cleaning his ears at the doctor, or could involve more testing.  He has trouble hearing in a room with a lot of noise and conflicting messaging, this could be a hearing issue or could be a focus issue on filtering messaging.  But what does this mean for us and Jack?

It means that next week his ears are getting checked (and likely flushed) by his doctor and then we'll see if we notice improvements.  It means more one on one sessions with Jack at daycare and home to help him get words and labels for things in his life.  It also means a referral to the waiting list for TPSLS so we can supplement the help from daycare if/when we need it.   It's going to be a lot of work and learning for all of us, but it is getting better and it's going to be worth it.  Chris and I can't wait to have a conversation with our little boy! 

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*I know I make it sound like Jane Goodall and the monkeys, but they really didn't describe it like that when they explained the assessment to Chris and I.  It's just if you spend enough time with toddlers you really can appreciate the jungle reference.  

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