Dylan has always been a little behind when it comes to meeting his milestones. He didn’t start crawling until 13 months and started to pull himself up and walk around furniture by 15 months (most babies usually start crawling between 6-10 months and walk independently by 15 months). I wasn’t too worried at first because Dylan is a bigger guy and everything I’ve read says that bigger babies take longer to move. However, the months kept going by and although Dylan had been making progress, it seemed slow. At Dylan’s 15 month check up his pediatrician didn’t seem too concerned and told me that she usually waits until 18 months before she recommends an early intervention evaluation.
Not only was Dylan slow with his walking, but he also wasn’t saying any words. I know that 1 year olds aren’t speaking sentences, but when was he going to start saying “mama”!? Trust me, I’ve been working hard on this one!
When Dylan was 17 months old, a family member who is an occupational therapist reached out and told me I should consider getting Dylan evaluated. She gave some great suggestions for things I could do with him to help with his gross motor skills but strongly encouraged the evaluation because the therapists could help with activities specifically tailored to Dylan’s needs. At this point I completely agreed with her and was ready to get the ball rolling and knew that Dylan could benefit from extra help.
After consulting with the pediatrician, I made an appointment with Eliot Early Intervention – Cambridge/Somerville. I was lucky because they had a cancelation the next week so I could schedule the evaluation (usually it takes about a month to get an appointment). For Dylan’s evaluation, a social worker, speech therapist, and occupational therapist came to my apartment. The evaluation took 2 1/12 hours and consisted of them asking me about Dylan’s development and my concerns, observing Dylan play and move, and having Dylan perform different tasks (such as finding a hidden toy, pointing to things in a book, etc).
The clinicians used the Battelle Developmental Inventory to evaluate Dylan. This assessed Dylan’s cognition, adaptive, personal social, motor (fine and gross), and communication (receptive and expressive language) skills. If Dylan scored below a 77 in at least one area he would qualify for services. He scored in the average range for cognition, adaptive, and personal social but he scored a 74 in motor and 57 in communication. If they would have assessed him on ball throwing skills, speed crawling, or overall cuteness he would have scored off the charts!
Once I saw Dylan’s scores I started to worry and feel some mom guilt. Why was he scoring so low? Is he going to struggle in school when he’s older? Had I not been talking to him enough? Was there more I could have done to help his development? Is it my fault that he’s behind?
I think we as parents always beat ourselves up about our children’s issues. We blame ourselves when our children aren’t perfect. I’m trying hard to be a good mom and I have to keep remembering I’ve only been doing this for 18 months! Every day there is something new to learn and I definitely won’t be a perfect mom but I know that I will try my best. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that kids are just different and develop at different times. This is just who Dylan is and of course there is always more I could have done to help him, but it doesn’t mean the outcome would have changed. Dylan is an amazing child and has so many strengths and it is okay that he has some struggles too. I’m being proactive to give him all the support I can right now and that is all that matters!
After the evaluation we had another meeting to discuss the types of services Dylan would receive. We decided that a developmental therapist would come to our home once a week for one hour to work with Dylan. We are also consulting with a speech therapist and either OT or PT. Not only are we getting once a week sessions but we are able to join two weekly classes with other toddlers who are receiving early intervention. I am really excited about this because Dylan will get to socialize with other kids his age while working on his development goals and I can meet other parents who are going through a similar process. Not to mention that all of these services and classes are completely free!
Our classes start in a couple of weeks and Dylan has his first session with his developmental therapist on Thursday. I am so excited to start this journey and look forward to seeing the progress Dylan makes. In the meantime, I am still working diligently to help Dylan’s language development by constantly narrating what he is doing and even teaching him some sign language to help him express his needs. For Dylan’s motor skills I am working on strengthening his core and giving him plenty of walking practice. Dylan continues to progress and he even took his first steps independently!