We ended my last post with Monkey Boy still not talking. He turned two in May of 2006 and by September still wasn’t saying much, nor was he putting any words together. I followed the pediatrician’s advice and called to inquire about an evaluation for speech therapy, and he was found eligible.
At this point, other than speech, he appeared to be a fairly typical two-year-old, and I figured therapy would get him talking and that would be that. I even went ahead and registered him for a local preschool. I’d love to be that optimistic again. And I would strongly urge any parent who currently has concerns about their child’s speech to seek help sooner rather than later.
So, in November of that year, we started speech therapy. Unfortunately, he hid on my lap, threw tantrums and would only interact with the therapist on a limited basis. It was hard to believe that this was the same child who would smile and go to anyone as a baby just a year earlier.
By March, he had only made very limited progress. The therapist suggested discontinuing speech therapy, and instead she would serve as a service coordinator. One thing that had become obvious during this time was that he definitely had some sensory processing difficulties as well as language delays. It has taken me eight more years to have some better insight into these problems. To this day, he still craves deep pressure, yet can’t tolerate a weighted blanket. He also developed a strong aversion to clothes and loud noises (his reaction to being startled was to hit me).
At that time, he was said to have an immature vestibular system and hypotonia. Put simply, he had balance issues and low muscle tone. I really wish I had paid more attention to this back then because I’ve just found out recently how much it can affect learning. I will get to this in more detail in future posts, but Monkey Boy was recently found to have Retained Primitive Reflexes, which can help explain many developmental delays. This is something else parents might want to explore. Back then, there was a lot I still didn’t know.
In the spring of 2007, I tried Monkey Boy in Toddlin’ Time. My older two kids had loved it, and I was excited to go back. At first, it wasn’t too bad. He was hesitant at first, but then would play, until the fourth session, when reasons still unbeknownst to me sent him into a total meltdown. He was also being evaluated by Child Find to see if he was eligible for Special Education services through Stafford County. I never even knew this existed for children as young as two and in hindsight should have started much earlier.
He was found to have fairly severe delays in things like communication development, adaptive development, cognitive development and social/emotional development. Once his evaluation was complete, he was worked into the two year old special education preschool class, which was held three times a week for two and a half hours. By then, there were only six weeks of school left. I wound up going with him and helping out because he would scream if I left the room, and they wanted an accurate idea of what he was capable of doing.
Monkey Boy continued into the three year old class in the fall and then the four year old class the next year, and his progress was immense. Since it was held within a public school, he learned to ride the bus and buy his lunch in the cafeteria. He started speaking in five word sentences, learned his colors, letters and numbers, interacted with the teachers and his classmates, and made sure everyone in the class behaved in a safe manner. Because it was a special education classroom, he was able to work with the PT, OT and speech therapist in a group setting. His teachers made bimonthly home visits, and he actually came to enjoy them. I do not know where we would have ended up without this intervention, and I can’t praise it enough.
And then he lost his IEP and started kindergarten….