Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Kid is the Car

A few years ago, a friend of mine wanted to get her son evaluated for some behaviors he was showing. She'd worried, she'd talked to her doctor, she'd researched, and she'd finally decided it would be better to let a professional see what was up. She couldn't worry about the results - she just wanted to be able to help him. Awesome attitude.

Well she brought him in to see the behavior therapist, and he was absolutely perfect. They tried all his triggers, and he didn't melt down once. He listened, played games, followed directions, transitioned between activities, all in a totally appropriate way. In other words, he was completely fine. Normal.

Of course this was great news. But when she called me to let me know how it had gone, she said "my kid is the car". 

You know the old story...your car is making a funny noise. You take it to the mechanic, try your best to convey what's going on, and put your trust in them to diagnose and fix the problem. And what happens? The car refuses to cooperate. It won't make the funny noise. And the mechanic looks at you like you're crazy. They have cars that actually need fixing, that will make them money, and here you are, wasting their time with some sort of vague, nonsensical complaint and wanting a diagnosis that doesn't exist. Oh sure, they'll be nice as they explain that, yes, cars do make noise!, but you can just see them shaking their heads as you drive off in a car that is running just fine.

Now substitute two year old for car.

Ok, not exactly. But I have a feeling we're in for the same kind of situation.

Madison was an early talker, and was speaking in full sentences and telling stories when she was two. I distinctly remember her speaking in sentences when I brought Reagan home from the hospital. She knew letters and numbers and colors and shapes...all at two.

Reagan is not the same child. She wants to go, go, go and could care less about stopping to tell you what she's doing. And when she wants something, she knows that a scream and a point gets her more satisfaction than trying to articulate "milk" for her confused mother. She is nowhere close to where Madison was.

Now, I realize that Madison is an exceptionally verbal child. Still is. Not every two year old is like that, but that's what I know. So for the past year, I've been trying to convince myself that Reagan is actually on track, just not Madison's track. But as she crept closer to her second birthday, I began to get concerned that she really should be speaking more words, have clearer speech, and basically, be at least a bit closer to being able to communicate with the adults in her life.

At Reagan's 18 month appointment, her pediatrician wasn't really concerned at all. She was still in the range they were looking for...on the other end of the curve from Madison, but nothing that should cause me to lose sleep. He expected she'd make a huge jump as she closed in on two.

Well at her two year old appointment, she hadn't made the jump we'd hoped for. Sure, she'd made a bit of growth, but he figured that getting her speech evaluated certainly wouldn't hurt. Even if she didn't qualify, we'd have the paperwork in place and the speech therapist who saw her could recommend the next steps. He gave me all sorts of numbers and information about Birth - Three, and I started making phone calls and filling out paperwork and setting up evaluations. We had a hearing test and will have someone coming out to evaluate her speech in two weeks. I'm still trying to figure out all the paperwork. All of this started a week ago.

In those seven days, while I've been making phone calls and setting up appointments and filling out sheets and sheets of paper, she has doubled the amount of words she says. Doubled. If not more. Car. Ball. Mine. More. Kiss. She answers questions with "yeah" and "no". She says a muddled but understandable "please" and "thank you". She's even starting two word sentences. She says "hot dog" and dances with Mickey whenever it comes on. This morning, she popped out with "Elsa" and "princess" and started singing along with the soundtrack in the car (don't judge - we're a little Frozen obsessed). This is all within the past week.

In other words, by the time the speech therapists from Birth - Three ring our doorbell in two weeks, Reagan will probably answer the door and give them her history herself. The car will be running just fine and the mechanic will look at me as the neurotic, worried, clueless mother that I am. They'll wonder why I got them out, away from children who really need help, to evaluate a completely normal kid. I'm sure they'll be perfectly pleasant, but I'm sure they'll drive away shaking their heads.

Cars and kids. Guaranteed to make you crazy.
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