Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What is SPD, PT, S&L, SLP & OT?

The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears.--Ellen Goodman
You may recall that July wasn't a good month for me, which makes me a bit sad, because I felt like I missed those few weeks of wonderful summer (I guess I get to try again next year). Anxiety & fear flooded my system and spiraled a bit out of control. After dealing with the culminating fear, anxiety & upset stomach, I did two major things to combat it. First, I called my wonderful counselor that I hadn't seen in about a year. Second, I did the unthinkable and joined the intense gym, Jogo Crossfit, I now know & love. A couple things I learned through this experience (and am still learning).

1. Exercise in this capacity has been a breath of new life & rejuvenation (even though I cannot see it when my alarm wakes up at 5:20 am).

2. There are stories, memories & experiences one can have from childhood that don't completely come up until you get older (call it psychological delay of sorts).

3. Death is not to be feared, it's something that happens & I know my future is glorious.

4. No matter where my mind races with my oldest, little girl, I can be mindful of what I know about her right now.

5. And five, being mindful of the present is so much more worth living than anxieties of tomorrow.

So what do I know about today?

We have seen a myriad of specialists regarding Veronica and where she sits on the "developmental charts." She is labeled with a developmental delay in some cognitive areas, along with gross motor & some speech. She's been tested through the public school system (contributing taxpayer money at work) with a cognitive test & a speech test. Next Monday, she will receive a test from the Occupational Therapist (OT) as well. The following Monday after that is when we will sit down to hear about all the results.

What does this mean?

In March, she was referred by her doctor to receive a Speech & Language evaluation, along with a gross motor evaluation. Her S&L eval came back within range, while her gross motor did not. In June she was referred to receive support for her overpronation (ankles turning out) through orthotics (braces on her ankles).

Essentially, she has weak ankles and needs extra support to strengthen them. She is suppose to wear them 8+ hours a day for 6-12 months (possibly longer). Her physical therapist (PT) Jill, who is absolutely wonderful, has diagnosed her with low muscle tone. She also sees some proprioceptive & vestibular issues. Proprioceptive & vestibular is related to Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). We commonly think of simply five senses; however, those are merely the external ones, while the internal ones are the proprioceptive & vestibular systems.

Proprioceptive System deals with the joints & muscles, while the vestibular system lies within the inner ear and deals with gravity. Now, there could be an individual who is either hyper- or hypo-sensitive in dealing with these two areas or the other commonly known five senses. However, a person could show some signs of hypo AND hyper. It's not a this or that sort of set-up all the time (hence why we are all unique creations). She shows signs of hypo-proprioceptive issues, which also affect some of the external senses. She needs to do exercises to build strength in her core, due to low muscle tone; as well as, incorporating a sensory diet to tell her central nervous system how to function.

Veronica will get tested with the OT next Monday. OT's work with fine motor skills and everyday functioning skills. So she will be testing Veronica on her fine motor, functioning (toileting, zipping, eating, etc), and SPD. Jill is not authorized to diagnose Veronica with SPD, because it is out of her jurisdiction; however, the OT can.

How did we get here?

I ran into a friend of a friend at a dance class this summer and reintroduced ourselves. She noted V's braces and said, "the only reason I said that is I notice those things, because I'm a Special Ed ECE (Early Childhood Education) teacher." We got to talking and one thing led to another with her giving me her number if I wanted any information on how to get V help.

Now, I'm personally not one to enroll my 3 year old in preschool for various reasons. However, one of the reasons is my lack of confidence in someone instilling the appropriate care for this unique, special little girl. I know her quirks and that she is a bit different (not always a bad thing). So, I wouldn't have confidence in a person who is responsible for 9 other kids to care, along with giving my girl the amount of care & attention she needs.

So--why not just care for her at home? Well, this is where all this testing, evaluations, screening, paperwork come in. Veronica qualified to get into the Special Needs ECE preschool through the public schools, which would meet 2 1/2 hours a day/4 days a week. As a mom who has seriously weighed in the options of homeschooling, I feel like I would be doing my daughter a disservice to rule out receiving extra help at this stage of the game. And the only way I would have confidence in someone giving that care for this unique little girl, would be a Special Education ECE teacher, who had additional Instructional Aids (IA) in the classroom, along with a PT, OT & SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) working with her every week. That's what she would get.

Not only that, but at this young age of 3, her brain is still very malleable and able to correct itself. Kids with SPD or other related delays (previously mentioned) have a higher success rate if addressed earlier in life (age 3) versus age 9. To put this into perspective, Veronica's central nervous system is a bit out of whack, which inhibits her from participating in daily functions (eating with utensils, putting on clothes, understanding requests or questions asked of her, etc), communicating in a social/emotional way (joining in play with others, lacking the confidence, etc) and being able to fully move & play (walking down the stairs, hopping, running, etc).

Where do we go from here?

We will meet with the school psychologist, SLP, OT, PT, & the Special Education ECE teacher, to draw up an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) and get her started in the preschool. This will start for her in November sometime, but don't know when. After she did the cognitive test a couple weeks back, the school psychologist scored it there letting me know that Veronica scored 2 points below the mean, which automatically qualified her to receive Special Education services for three years. She also let me know that Veronica scored "normal" on her verbal, which is the best thing you want to see for a child, because their ability to communicate above all other areas cognitively shows the highest signs of success.

How am I dealing with it?

I sat there trying to hold back the tears, but you can't hold back the flood. I wasn't crying because I was told my daughter had a "developmental delay," or that she might possibly have a harder time functioning in life. My tears were ones of joy. I have been looking at this special little face for years and in the past two (or more) thinking, "something's just not right." Feeling like I was the only one to see it--it helped me feel sane. It affirmed that there is a little thing called intuition which should not be thrown under the rug. It gave me hope...for her.

When we go to see Miss Jill, there's this little girl who blossoms. She's absolutely beautiful and sometimes I have to hide my face. I hide it because I'm ashamed for believing lies, which say, "being different is bad...being different is abnormal...being different is less than what God created...being different is hard to love at times, etc." There have been so many thoughts of comparison with other children, wishing that everything was "normal" and even embarrassment. As I've been walking along the path of internal healing from my own past hearing God's voice saying, "I delight in you...your worth is far removed from your abilities & gifts." And then I heard him talk about his love for Veronica, which continues to pierce my heart, "Her worth is not dependent upon her physical prowess, ability to achieve 'milestones,' or anything measurable by human standard, but simply because I created her in my image & she as my creation is not just good, but very good."

And what I know about her now is seeing a little girl who is a bit inhibited on one side of the bridge wanting to cross, but out of inability & fear, she cannot embrace the beautiful grassy meadow filled with wildflowers on the other side of the bridge. Where she can dance freely knowing her worth, like a picture of heaven. I have seen glimpses of her walking toward the meadow--blossoming into who God designed her to be, and I know Ben & I simply want to encourage toward that path.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Perfectionists need not Apply

"The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one." -Jill Churchhill
1. No Double Standards

Parenting on good days is full of hope, laughter, & working together. On the bad days, well, they feel like you're standing at the crash site looking for semblance. I said to myself as I entered the bathroom while the girls remained at the table, "Okay Kamille, we will not shout or yell!"

In our home I have a phrase, "Are your words sweet like honey or yucky like dog poop? (very visual & tactile)" When the girls have whining or a disrespectful tone, out comes the phrase. The same goes for yelling, screaming & shouting. Well, what do you do when it's the keeper of the phrase who is choosing "yucky dog poop?"

Apologize, ask for forgiveness & reconcile.

2. Putting in Coins of Affirmation

Last night during dinner, I brought up to Veronica how I noticed how she had been using manners, a sweet voice & choosing to do what is right & good. From the time we dropped her off at Sunday School, she had a sweet disposition till dinner.

I remember reading that for every negative we need 10 positives.

With little ones who cannot really function without you, it seems like I'm more of a maid trying to get food on the table, diaper changed, sweep up the laminate floor, fix a booboo, etc. Meanwhile, there are those nuggets of affirmation slipping by unnoticed. And sometimes a bit too late once it is.

3. And then comes the Meltdown

Once I made note of Veronica's wonderful choices at dinner, it seemed she let her guard down saying, "Finally someone noticed and it's taken a lot of hard work...onto some meltdowns."

Don't we all feel like that at times. I work SO hard to remain patient in the midst of the storm, to use sweet words, to love relentlessly, but to much avail...I'm exhausted from trying so hard. Isn't that why we work out, so we can enjoy a dessert afterward?

~We run with an expectation that we will obtain perfection on the first shot, or even the second and third. Our aim can be simply unreasonable (especially when we factor in little people meandering about). I'm convinced that motherhood is not about being perfect; in fact, it means our failures/shortcomings, haven't taken a shower in two days, eating leftovers for the third day, kids still in pajamas when daddy gets home sort of days WILL happen. However, it's more about getting back on the "proverbial" horse and riding again into the unknown (and perhaps, more failures).

So let's get back into the saddle (whether you're a parent or not) and ride into the mystery of tomorrow together, because I'm certain John Wayne types are pretty miserable without a riding companion. And leave a comment--it will make you feel better, for sure.

Friday, October 8, 2010


We actually haven't been very busy this summer.  However, it seems like the month of September was filled to the brim with events, appointments and whatnot.  We made a trip to Artist Point Labor Day weekend, only to find so much fog that the point was nearly invisible.  On top of that, add that mama & daddy wore shorts forgetting that we are in the "cascades" at a 45 degree day.  Not to mention that the night before we went with friends here, so bedtime was later and girls still wake up a bit early, which made for a semi-miserable experience at the mountain.

I'm sure you can picture it.  The culmination of lethargic bodies, whining, wild blueberries not coming out of the coat pocket like a 3 year old would like, while the 21 month old is on broken record mode, "Mama, mama, mama..."  It's moments like these in a year from now (and more so in 20 years) that we will laugh about it, forgetting how painful it was and try again.  I guess that's the beauty of parenting.  We can fully see the hard, the bad & the ugly, but we keep with it, because the beauty always outshines.

Picture encapsulates our journey to Artist Point

Taking a lunch break

Do we look excited?

Veronica fell down and I'm comforting her

Tays painting on paper, and the wall too.

That rascal face

This was "paint in your pajamas" day

Both girls dedicated to their art

Long day of traveling requires a ride in the stroller, along with Puppy

The pool was all the rage

Cadence dancing with Grandpa on the Strip

Beautiful girl with her strewn blown hair (and messy face)

The love of a puppy--life couldn't be better

Auntie Mimi & Uncle Apple Bob got married!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Apple Bobbing

You know your child is listening to key elements of a story when they just happen to knock over the box of apples on the deck, only to announce, "Oh no! The box of apples fell. I lost my balance! (Veronica)" I forgot that we had just read about Ginger the cat knocking over the apples in a wheelbarrow, then falling into the water while trying to bob for them, because he "lost his balance." Shortly after, I notice there are quite a few apples in the play grocery cart (a.k.a. wheelbarrow), which I quickly said, "Umm, I know Ginger knocked over the apples from the wheelbarrow Veronica, but I need you to keep them in there."

After she realized her dream of being Ginger the cat knocking over the wheelbarrow was extinct, she had a new idea. Applebobbing! She has seen this Autumn festivity recently in three different books, so she continued asking for the remainder of the late afternoon to go "applebobbing" (sidenote: she has called her Uncle Bob at one point 'Apple Bob.' So I thought she was talking about Bob at first). I told her when daddy got home we could go applebobbing. I think the girls interpretation of this semi-lost art just might cause a comeback.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Disobedience & a Sweet Response

Tonight I mentioned something that a three year old shouldn't have to hear, especially when that three year old is Veronica and it was mama joking about eating ice cream. The other part is Veronica didn't pick up on the joke part and only heard those two words as reality. She was sad to find out I was joking, and I definitely needed to apologize. I helped smooth it over by telling her she could have the raspberries in the fridge. She quickly was all better, found the raspberries, grabbed a bowl (and so did Cadence) and helped distribute the berries among the two bowls.

Needless to say, one person's bowl had a few more raspberries than the other. We fixed that minor indiscretion and all was right in the world. Well, until Cadence fell over in her chair, Veronica knocked over Cadence's bowl of berries and then proceeded to "help" fix the situation. The conversation as follows:

Me: Veronica, can you put Cadence's raspberries back in the bowl? And don't eat them, they're Cadence's.

Meanwhile, Veronica ones by picking up all the berries, except that last part about not eating them evades her mind; hence, an empty bowl placed on the table. When I call her actions into question (mind you she is typically very obedient and hates the idea of disappointing us), she quickly runs to the stairs jabbering, "I need to go to bed, etc!"
When she does come back and we talk about it I ask, "Veronica, did I ask you to pick up the berries or eat the berries?". She pauses and says, "Eat...the berries?"
Me: "Veronica!"
Veronica: "Pick up the berries."
me: "Yes, and what you did was disobedient. When mama asks you to do something you need to obey the first time. What do you do now (she was clueless)? You need to say you're sorry to me for disobeying. "

At this point, she begins to ramble on and on about the raspberries, not eating them, obeying mama, etc. At which point, I'm trying to keep a straight face. But it's when she said, "Mama, I'm sorry for putting those juicy raspberries in my mouth," that I about lost it and insisted she hurry to say sorry to Cadence so I could snicker with freedom. And that my friends is the perfect apology, as far as I'm concerned.