Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Assessment

My son is covered through the county's Early Start Program. Part of that program means that he has to be assessed every 6 months. This will be his last assessment because he will turn 3 in January, when his coverage will end and (possibly) be picked up by the school district he will be joining. He was assessed using the Battelle Developmental Inventory, or BDI. Overall he did great. When he was approved for services, just 6 months ago, his assessment was much worse than this one. So I am proud of my little dude for making so much progress in such a short amount of time. It really is true that getting them involved in early start programs makes a HUGE difference. Gwendomama wrote an excellent post on this here. If you think your son or daughter might need special assistance in, well pretty much anything, read it. Seriously. It's a great post. I couldn't have written it better myself.

But back to The Boy. They start off by talking about his health and some of his health issues. I have talked about those ad nauseum here so I won't repeat. Short version: the dude doesn't gain weight. But thanks to his super human strength medicine, he is an eating machine and is gaining weight like a rock star. Then they get into assessing all the "sections" of his life and then compare him to what they have deemed normal. Now let me start off by saying that he is "developing at an age appropriate level" for all things assessed. However that doesn't mean he is testing up to the level of his age. For example. For his gross motor skills, he is deemed "age appropriate," but then it talks about how he does not yet jump forward with both feet, or walk backward. And at the end they tell you what the age equivalence to their "acheivements" is and then the percentile with which that falls. Make sense? I thought not. For gross motor, although he is deemed age appropriate, his BDI age equivalence is 25 months and his percentile is 25th. The Boy is 31 months old. So he is a little behind in that one. He fell into the same age range and percentile for his fine motor as well. While he "isolates his index finger while pointing, scribbles linear and circular patters, places rings in a post and stacks up to 8 cubes vertically, he does not yet use pads of his fingertips to grasp a writing tool, string large beads or fasten clothing without assistance." Who knew I was supposed to be making him fasten his clothing? And what kind of clothing are they talking about? Doing a zipper by himself? Buttoning his jeans? I never even thought to have him do that. Frankly we would never get out of the house in the morning. So perhaps that one is a case of a bad Mommy.

So the one section that he did the worst on was "adaptive/self help" section. He is reported to be a "picky eater, able to use a spoon to feed himself with minimal assistance and also drinks from an open cup with minimal spilling (I love that qualification!). He is able to remove his shoes independently but requires some assistance to remove clothing. He does not yet express a need to use the toilet." His age equivalence was 19 months and his percentile was 5. Ouch. Now, I have a couple of issues with this portion of the assessment. It isn't that he doesn't express a need to use the toilet per se, it is just he refuses to do anything while sitting on the toilet. We sit on that damn toilet for like 30 minutes at a time, a couple of times a day. He just refuses to pee while he's there. How one person can physically sit on a toilet for that long and not pee, I will never understand. But he loves sitting on the potty. See? That damn potty training is the vein of my existence. I really need to focus on that a little more. But that is another post in and of itself. But as my BFF and I decided, potty training is not something to be achieved while the mother is in her first trimester of pregnancy. So I will focus on that in a couple of months.

The place where he "scored" the best was in the cognitive section. He is categorized as "a smart and delightful child. He demonstrates high average to above average skills in the area of attention memory, pre academic skills and knowledge of concepts. He searches for removed objects and finds objects hidden under one of two cups. He can match and sort forms by color and shapes and can also name basic colors. He enjoys books and readily points and labels pictures. He can count to 10 and has already begun to identify most numbers and almost all letters of the alphabet." His BDI age equivalence is 38 months, which is in the 80th percentile. See? He's smart... :) Who cares if he doesn't use the toilet or know how to talk correctly, his brain works people! Yay boy!

Then they go into the communication section. This is why he is receiving therapy in the first place. His speech has made great strides in the 6 months that he has received therapy (although he's been getting it LONG before that time, I was just paying out of pocket for it). But he still has a ways to go in this area. Example, "While [Boy's] expressive vocabulary has improved, poor speech intelligibility negatively impacts his ability to effectively communicate. [Boy] is a very social and communcative child and repeats himself and uses gestures when not understood. Although he is combining up to 4 words in a meaningful manner, listeners have to rely on context cues to understand him. He has a speaking vocabulary of over 70 words. He consistently verbalizes to get his needs met and comment about his play or his immediate environment..." And it goes on from there. But this is where his issues are. In the pronunciation of words. I guess because I am his Mommy, I think he is doing SO much better in this regard. But I forget that sometimes the words that make perfect sense to me don't so much make perfect sense to the general public.

Here is their fancy explanation for this: "For example, [Boy] can imitate the word 'tot' but articulates 'table' as 'bable.' Similarly, although he demonstrates acquisition of 'k' and 'g' sound (EX: cookie/go) he names a 'cow' as 'tow' and the color 'green' as 'beem.' His speech intelligibility is best at single word level. He demonstrates difficulty imitating simple isolated tongue movements on demand as well as performing alternate lip and tongue movements with precision. His poor ability to coordinate oral movements in a smooth manner affect his overall intelligibility..." And it goes on.

So that is the gist of his assessment. Overall he did great. Like I said, when I received this assessment 6 months ago, he was SO FAR below his age level in almost everything. And now he is still below levels (with the exception of his ferocious BRAIN!!), but not nearly as low as before. And the funny part? With all that is mentioned above, I have been "warned" that he will most likely NOT qualify for services once he turns three. I guess the school district has much higher standards (or lower standards as the case may be) with which to qualify. But just because he doesn't qualify, that doesn't mean that he doesn't still need services. It just guessed it...I have to pay for them all myself. Now I guess I could just say that since he isn't "bad" enough to qualify then that means he doesn't need speech therapy anymore. But I know this isn't the case. And I don't want my boy to be made fun of at any age, but definitely when he enters school. So I will continue to get him the therapies he needs. I will just have to possibly re-mortgage my house in order to do so. :)

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