The past few weeks have been unbelievably busy, with hardly a spare moment in the entire day. Most of it is school related, but we also have started Early Intervention services for B, so I thought I’d do a quick update. As it was when I went through infertility treatments, it turns out you’re never alone – there’s lots of people who are always going through the same thing. All of a sudden, it seems like toddlers everywhere are also going through EI services. It does kind of make me feel a little better about the process.
B receives developmental services weekly, OT once a month, and speech once a month – all until his autism evaluation, which if he were to qualify, would kick those services up a few notches. Since EI has started, the developmental specialist has come twice.
Both times she has come, she’s arrived with a giant bag of toys. B and C are dying to get that bag open, of course, and in order for our specialist, A, to open it, she requires B to communicate that desire with her. Once he says, “open”, or “toys”, or “help”, she confirms what he wants and opens the bag. Then, it’s all about choices. She always pulls out two toys and asks him to choose between them – not just by pointing at the toy he wants but by saying what it is. “Do you want the train or the dogs?” she will say – and he has to say the word. Once he’s playing with the toy, she typically gives him choices within that toy “Do you want the blue peg or the red peg?”. She brought a miniature plastic dog set with a tiny little dog bowl and dog beds and B and C just adored it. C is starting to take to creative, imaginative play with her dolls and animals but B hasn’t shown interest. Once A modeled it for him though, he was making his little doggies eat from the bowl and go to sleep. So cute!
They keep playing in this manner until it’s time for A to go. She writes up what she saw that day, the observations I have made over the past week, and she gives me a few tips, “homework” to work on until next time. And that’s it.
As you know, the idea of the possible autism diagnosis has bothered me and I’ve been a little in denial about it. I don’t know enough about autism to make any claim, but it has always been my “mother’s intuition” that B is not autistic. And the first time A came, about halfway through her session, she looked at me and said, “You know – I don’t think he’s going to qualify.” I asked her about that, and she said that he checks in with her constantly. And he does – like other children, when set to a task, he looks at you every two seconds as if to say, “Am I doing this right?” And when you cheer for him, he grins right at you and claps and goes back to work. It may not mean anything but it made me feel better. The second time she came, she said the same thing again. I’m okay with that right now.
I did ask her – what do you make of the fact that he’s obsessed with a color? What do you make of the fact that he really, really loves to see how things move, how things work – that an object spinning is one of his favorite things ever – a ceiling fan, a ball, or even the dog bowl he tips on its side to make it spin around the floor. Aren’t these things a little strange? She said, “Yes, a little bit. He might just be quirky. You might just have a quirky kid.” Right now, that’s what I’m going with.
In addition to the developmental services we’re receiving, a few days ago I took B to an outpatient OT. Two women did an initial “sensory integration” evaluation on him, as the sensory piece was one I did want addressed. And because he loves to be put to a task, loves to work – the EI people thought he might benefit from additional outpatient OT services. Well, when he was there they gave him lots of toys – lots of tasks. As I already knew, his fine motor skills are wonderful and a non-issue. His gross motor skills are apparently lackluster. I had no idea – he can throw and kick a ball. But apparently his throws and kicks aren’t too good. In addition, he can’t catch. They asked me if I noticed that one of his eyes turns in a bit. Funny – yes, we’ve noticed, and when he failed his 6 month eye exam, he saw an eye doctor. Because my husband had a patch as a child for the exact same issue, we have a feeling he’ll need glasses at an early age, but the eye doctor said he was still in the normal range. But for two women who have never seen him to pick that up right away – I’ll be calling the eye doctor again and having it looked at. Yes, if there’s something wrong with his eyes, he won’t be able to throw, kick and catch. Finally, they asked me all about the types of sensory sensitivities he has. There are certain textures he doesn’t like and won’t touch, such as slimy, gooey things (like melted cheese), and on the flip side, there are movements he craves (predictable, rhythmic movements such as swinging, jumping up and down on his mattress, etc.) They wanted to see this in action a bit so they brought over a mini-trampoline, but made him take his shoes off. I knew the shoes wouldn’t be the issue – it’s the socks, so I took them off too. Sure enough, he wouldn’t put his toes on the trampoline because he was unsure of what it would feel like on his feet.
When all was said and done, the women agreed they would be picking him up for services as well – once a week outpatient OT for 3 months. I’m glad for this – it certainly can’t hurt and B will likely love the tasks they put him up to. Unfortunately, he’s on a waiting list, and I hope it starts soon.
In the past few weeks, we have noticed a ton of improvement with B. He communicates MUCH better – and now that he does, I almost can’t believe we all managed beforehand. In the past week, he has finally told me he wants to eat. He has never done that before. He says “help” now right away, because he knows we won’t help him otherwise. The other night he was fussing and I thought he was with my husband so I ignored him. Turns out he was trying to get his washcloth but it was stuck. Finally, he stopped fussing, came and found me and said, “Help!” That’s big improvement right there. With this new communication, this kid is extremely affectionate lately. He’s always been a bit of a Mama’s boy, but now he’s super snuggly with the dogs, who he previously couldn’t stand. He’s affectionate with C, chasing after her for hugs and kisses. This is all new behavior. He seems to generally be a much happier kid. So while he’s certainly got some quirks, and some areas that I still would love to see improvement, I’m very pleased with the process so far and proud of him for tolerating all these new people and places and showing everyone how awesome he is.