It is that time of year again, Early Intervention evaluation.
Last year I was horribly depressed about it. Frist, all the therapists ask evaluation questions in areas like cognitive development, physical development, language, social, etc. Then they calculate what percentage of developmental delay is appropriate for your child, based on the “test questions”. Next, that information is submitted to the EI coordinator, who then sets up an appointment with the family and ALL the therapists to discuss the results of the test and make new outcomes.
We have five therapists. so a meeting like that, as a fairly new mom, a mom with a special needs child, was DAUNTING! Furthermore, the meeting counts as your “therapy visit” for the week, so you miss your actual progressive work in therapy to talk about your child’s delays.
Here’s the deal, I know my kid has delays, I’m not delusional. It hurts to verbalize those delays to myself much less a group of people. It hurts to verbalize that your child is at a 50% delay for her age. It hurts to watch people look at you with empathetic gazes as the discussion continues. And, as a parent of a special needs kid, you need to find ways to tone down the hurtful things and play up the good things. Otherwise, you’d sink instead of swim through this amazing journey.
So, last year, I asked to meet with only the coordinator and not all the therapists. I asked to keep our therapy visits on schedule as normal so Delainie could continue to work towards her goals. That was not how the meetings typically worked, but they were very accommodating, because we, as parents, get to control so much of this! We just don’t always know it. I say, “what’s the harm to ask, the worst they can do is say, ‘no'”? In the meeting we reviewed each therapists report, individually. We reviewed what percentage was given to Delainie for each area of development. It was still a hard pill to swallow, but at least a bunch of people weren’t staring at me and Delainie, making us (okay, me) feel uncomfortable.
This year, I am a more seasoned mom. More importantly, I am a more seasoned special needs mom. I have a better outlook on this whole process. I now know these “tests” are what give us the opportunity for Early Intervention therapies. These therapies mean the world to our family and have helped to catapult Delainie to levels of success she would not have attained without EI help. The evaluation is NOT a true summation of our daughter’s abilities and interactions, so there is no reason for me to feel sad or defensive. It is, however, a powerful tool for us to utilize to get what we need for her benefit.
There is so much more to Delainie than what is on paper. It is important for me to remember that. Otherwise, I run the risk of delving into the depths of depression since the papers don’t show what I see in her. I constantly remind myself that the papers, the tests, help us to get to our ultimate goal, therapy for Delainie to be the best Delainie she can possibly be.
So, if they tell me that she has a 50% delay for her age per the eval tests, so be it. I will channel that moment of hurt into taking advantage of the opportunity to get as much therapy for her as we can. Once we meet with the coordinator, we will not dwell on where we are developmentally. We will discuss, in detail, where we want to go and how we can get there.
When you have a special needs child, there is so much negative spin on the things in your life. As a parent, the only way to keep it together and do the best for your child is to take the negatives and make them positive. It’s a cliché, I know. But, it’s true. So, if you are a special needs parent and you don’t realize you run the show, start directing, now. If you are a special needs parent that has been directing for years, kudos; please share what things helped you most. If you are not a parent of a special needs kiddo, I hope this post gives you a new understanding of the challenges special needs families face.