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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our Early Intervention

Our girl qualified for Early Intervention services.
Our sweet lovely amazing daughter is delayed.
I don't want it to be that way.
But it is.
And it's no surprise either.
We went into international adoption with our eyes wide open, preparing for the worst and praying for the best.  Her delays were completely expected.
There's a dichotomy in my heart.  I want everything to be perfect for her.  I want it to be easy.  And yet I don't.  I know that there are wonderful blessings in overcoming.  But then I see and hear how wonderfully the other children adopted from her orphanage around the same time and/or same age are doing.  How "advanced" they are.  Potty trained.  Speaking words and sentences.   A vocabulary so big it's hard to keep track.  Gross motor skills beyond her's.  Better muscle tone and strength.
And she's just not.
And it's ok.
I'll continue repeating my mantra... there are blessings in overcoming.
So why is there something in my heart that takes pause when I think about the delays my girl has?  I mean, I expected this, right?  I was mentally prepared for this... right?
So why does the label hurt?
Maybe being mentally prepared and having your child that you've fallen so amazingly and deeply in love with, officially labeled are two different things entirely.
Yet, we're thankful that we have the resources to get the assistance she needs.

Enter - Early Intervention.

Both Tess and Jude qualified for Early Intervention when they were 1 year old.  So I referred Mimi to be evaluated as soon as came home from China.  Yes, you can refer your own child.  And yes, I did it online because in reality I'm more likely to follow through with things that are easy peasy.  I Googled "Early Intervention" and my state and quickly found the referral form and clicked send.  I received a phone call within a couple days and had an evaluation in our home in a couple weeks after that.  They evaluated Mimi in many areas, including, gross and fine motor skills, speech, cognitive delays.  She qualified with significant speech delays.
Mimi has speech therapy, in our home, once per week.
Enter - Betsy, our speech therapist and now my friend.
Through Early Intervention, we had 8 therapy sessions a week with Tess and Jude.  They were 12 months old when they came home so truth-be-told, 1 session per week now feels like cake.  So far with our 3 kiddos that have been in Early Intervention we have had speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, eating/food therapy, cognitive/emotional assistance, and a couple more specific programs I can't remember.
A few take away notes.
---For the most part, we schedule times that work for our schedule.  I'm not horribly picky about times, but then again, it doesn't do us much good if 6 other kids are mulling around interfering during speech therapy.  So we usually schedule morning sessions when the other children are out of the house.
---Almost all the therapy we've done has been in our home.  No need to load up in the car and spend time driving to and from appointments.  It's taken me a bit to get past the therapists seeing my dust bunnies and morning hair.  But they really don't care.
---Early Intervention services run till our child is 3 years old.  At the child's 3rd birthday, the program (and I believe it's this way in other states) transfers to a pre-school setting run by our local school district.
---Therapists differ in their styles.   If therapy feels like a waste of your time, (and I had a couple that were) ask for a different therapist.  For the most part, I think we really had wonderful very professional and knowledgeable therapists that loved their jobs.
---I love the fact that while I sit and watch these therapy sessions, and sometimes helping out, I'm learning how to help and interact with my child all day every day.  These weekly reminders of how to help her are invaluable.
---Every week I have an opportunity to talk with a professional and ask questions.  Just this week I asked our speech therapist, Should we be building her vocabulary at this point or putting more effort into combining 2 and 3 words phrases? Could she be lactose intolerant?  and How many words should a 26 month old be speaking?  It's a wonderful resource at my fingertips every single week.
---Almost all the sessions we've had, have been entirely play based.  We play and learn all at the same time.  The children have loved their therapy and genuinely look forward to it.  They are giddy when they hear the doorbell ring and run to greet their friend (therapist) at the door.
---It takes a while to get into the Early Intervention system, get evaluated, and get therapy scheduled.  So this go around, we wasted no time getting Mimi referred.  It took about 2 months from the day I sent her referral till the first therapy session.  And since it only lasts until she is 3 years old, I'm glad we didn't waste any time.  After all, studies prove that the earlier services are started, the better they work.
---Did I mention that all of this is free to us?  And that even the evaluation is free?  Yea, it is!  Would it happen if it wasn't?  Maybe not.
3 and a half years later, Tess still qualifies for speech services.  When she starts Kindergarten in the fall, she will continue to get extra assistance.  Even though Mimi was adopted a year older than Tess, Mimi's delays aren't as significant.  And we don't think Mimi will need the therapy as long as her older sister.

Like I mentioned, I wish our sweeties didn't need the extra help.  But I'm so so very thankful that I live in a community that helps us get that help when we need it.

Because after all, there really are blessings in overcoming.


  1. Giant amen to all of that! I'm so glad I had Shu evaluated when I did. And he almost didn't even qualify at the time--they had no idea he had apraxia! Our PT was wonderful, and now we adore our speech therapist even more. Truly don't know what I'd do w/o her. Hard, hard, hard work...all day long...but there's sweet victory in overcoming, like you said. :)
    P.S. Wish I could get my hands on that cool bubble straw! And those picture cards, matching with objects (I assume?) would be perfect for Shu. May have to create something like that for him.

  2. I completely know how you feel!

    Before adopting Caleb, we knew he would need lots of PT and OT for his arm. We didn't know he was going to need so much speech and language therapy also. Three and a half years later, and his speech therapist is saying (and I agree) that she thinks he'll finally graduate from services come this fall. It's been long and hard. But I'll tell ya...when I tell new people I meet that Caleb is getting speech and language services, they look at me in amazement, wondering why. And I can't tell you what that does to my heart. After all this hard work, he finally speaks like his peers! Hallelujah! Music to my ears!!!

    I so wish our kids didn't have endure such a hard road. But YES, there are blessings in overcoming. AMEN!

  3. We needed these services for our bio son, starting when he was 2. Now at 10 he doesn't qualify for any of them. I'm so glad we did the hard work when he was little. Between the time he was 2.5-5, he was in over 20 hours of various therapies (speech, occupational, behavorial, physical) He worked so hard. It's so worth it and I'm glad you are willing to get your daughter the support she needs

  4. I love your post. Love. We will have our two littles screened after we get home. I've already contacted our Early Intervention group and they're waiting on our "come on over" email. :) I totally get you. :) ((Hugs))

  5. Elspeth progressed at much the same rate. We are still being seen monthly by an EI. Right now they are just monitoring but she is boarderline delayed in gross motor. These girls spent most of their time in those lovely little potty chairs so no surprise. We are just now getting skinned knees because we can run and walk far enough to fall down.
    In January Elspeth was 12 - 18 months speech delayed (she was 27 months). Now at 31 months she is almost too high to qualify for speech playgroup. When she is tired, she still tries to grunt and whine her way through. Old habits dye hard.
    I really think that you will enjoy a few weeks of EI and begin to see a huge difference. It sucks but these Shangrao CWI kids are pretty stubborn and it seems that keeping up with older sibs is important so hang in there.

  6. We brought Lilly home at 6 months and she qualified for speech as she was severely delayed. Looking back, I believe that had we been patient, she would have talked when she was ready...but at the time, because it was free, we figured it certainly wasn't going to hurt anything. Because we were included in developing her plan/goals, she qualified for services up until she was three, then switched over to the school district. She continued for another year and a half, then we stopped with the understanding that we would re-evaluate a few months into her kindergarten.

    She's completely fine. I guess my point is that she was so young when we brought her home that we couldn't really blame her delay on her first six months. She was and has been exceptionally healthy and is (fortunately or unfortunately) testing two grade levels ahead of her peers in reading comprehension and math. Our school district does not offer AP classes until they reach the 6th grade, so we have one more year of trying to keep her from getting too bored!

    Lilly loved her speech therapist and play therapy was a blast!

  7. I currently drive to the local children's hospital every week for OT and PT (they alternate weeks). We're working on the Early Intervention process-- should have gotten the ball rolling sooner as one of my older kids needed speech therapy but they delayed the evaluation process for so long (5 months) that by the time she was evaluated she had too many words to qualify-- never mind that only her father and I could understand them. We signed up for this. We planned for it. And yes, the labels hurt. Being handed paperwork that states your 2 1/2 year old tests at the level of an 18 month old or 12 month old... no parent enjoys that. But we're making progress and my girl is happy and loved and so, so, so full of joy.

    Now, to google bubble straws because that would be perfect for my girl...

  8. Jerusha and Annika--
    The bubble straws are sold at the dollar store! 3 for a dollar! They are wonderful for building up some oral strength as you kinda have to push the air a bit harder than a regular straw. Hope you can find them in your neck of the woods.

  9. Hello My Friend,
    I am always amazed at the times when I need to figure something out..Bam..there is someone, somewhere to help. I had a new student and his mom come to my classroom after school so I could do some baseline testing. The boy was placed at a different school but they like our school better and will be with us in the fall...anyway she was so upset because he has been placed on an IEP and said she felt like a failure and started to cry. I wish I could make this whole "label and placement" stress, pain, hurt, disappointment, feelings of failure go away for parents. It is a tough thing and I know it is hard and scary. And the paperwork is just overwhelming. I hugged her and told her it would be alright. How do I make this easier for parents? And in turn for the kids? Honestly, I would love to take parents out to coffee prior to the initial placement meeting and just talk about the whole scary process.

  10. My sweet Melissa---
    Oh how I miss you.
    You are an AWESOME teacher. You should get bigger gift cards!

    Hmmmmm... what do I want to hear as a parent...
    1)that I'm doing it ok. that I'm advocating for my kiddos and that in turn makes a difference.
    2)that my gut instincts are almost always correct and that I should trust them.
    3)that I'm not in this alone. that we are a team, teachers, therapists, parents... and we are ALL committed to the very best for my child.
    4)That God WILL give all my child needs. That He loves her so much more than I do and wants the best for her too.

    I know there's more. That's what comes off the top of my head.

    Miss you!

  11. Thanks for those comments. I am always happy to hear suggestions. I love the one about God and would love to be able to say that during an IEP meeting but not sure about getting in "trouble" the whole God in schools debate...but I will keep this close to my heart.
    Miss you tons!!

  12. Hey Nancy, so glad to see your sweet baby girl doing so well! I am curious... Ivy has started EI here in Az as well. She qualified for PT and we started a few weeks ago. Our sessions are NOT free! We are scheduled to pay 75.00 per hour, the same price we would pay to have her seen privately outside the home. Right now they are deciding on what to do with speech. She has 20+ inteligible words however I still feel she would benefit from it. Speech will also be 75.00 per 1 hour visit. We paid 80 per hour for private speech for our 3 year old last year when she did not qualify for EI. CRAZY! Our insurance does not cover ST or PT. The paperwork said your income had to be below the poverty level to even qualify for a discount. So..... if you have some inside information on how one could get this covered entirely I sure am all ears! Lord knows we could use one less medical expense right now!

  13. Mary-I don't have your email address. Can you email me?




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