My almost 3 year old girl had an evaluation this morning to see if she still qualified for special services. She originally qualified when she was a little over 12 months. They assessed her as having a 25% speech delay and provided us with in-home visits by a speech therapist once a week. They also noted a delay in social/emotional skills. For that they assigned a Developmental Interventionist (DI). They attributed her challenging behavior to her inability to communicate. Speech therapy was a great help for us and her. She thrived and was released from speech about a year ago.
The first DI we had was not a great deal of help for us. I didn’t feel like Miss M or myself really clicked with her. She had a great many years of work experience which looked good on paper but didn’t seem to translate well to understanding my child. I ended up talking with the coordinator and arranged to get a new therapist.
I was very nervous about having to start again with someone and explain all the details about what was concerning us about Miss M. I needn’t have been. We found a wonderful therapist. She understood me and she understood Miss M! She didn’t make me feel like I was simply over-reacting to the normal demands of a 2 year old. I felt like an equal with her. She was down to earth and funny and easy to get along with. She totally rocks and if anyone asked I would recommend her without hesitation. We implemented a lot of strategies and I feel like we made some great progress and learnt some new skills in dealing with Miss M. Unfortunately that wonderful gal ended up leaving town and we had to find someone new again.
We have liked our newest therapist too but I can’t say she totally rocks or that she is the perfect fit for our family. She has a slightly different approach in that I feel like she focuses more on the family unit as a whole instead of directly on Miss M.
Anyway, when the kids turn three, they “age out” of Early Intervention and have to be re-assessed to continue receiving services in the school setting. I ummmed and aahhhed about having her assessed but ultimately decided to go ahead and see what they had to say. We already know she is very smart. She can do everything she is supposed to be doing and more. She doesn’t appear to have any obvious delays. The question I have, and the reason I decided to go ahead with the evaluation is whether her behavioral difficulties are going to cause her issues in the classroom and affect her ability to learn.
Miss M has big feelings and big emotions. She has not yet learned how to control those big emotions, which I know is true of most 3 year olds, but hear me out. She is very sensitive and highly strung. She is very anxious and needs to feel in control. She will get extremely distraught about things that are so minor they are almost insignificant. One time we didn’t see a pink house while we were driving and that caused her a major meltdown. We forgot to put chapstick on before bed one night and again, a major meltdown. Things like this. Little minor things which happen all day long cause her great distress.
I know what toddlers are like. I have a second one. He displays a lot of the same behaviors I have just listed just like any other toddler would. But it’s the degree to which it occurs and the severity and length and frequency of the tantrums which are the difference.
Some days I sit back and think about our day and feel so sad because it feels like Miss M has spent the better part of the day feeling upset and just not happy. Other days I feel angry at her because it’s like she spreads her mood and spoils our good times with her constant whining and crying. She is a lot to deal with. I try not to let her monopolize my time and attention but she often does.
She is not like this all the time. She has some amazing qualities and I hope so much that we can bring those out. She is very empathetic and gets very concerned if one of her siblings is hurt. She is so smart and so intuitive. She loves to make up silly songs. She loves looking at photographs and having her picture taken. She loves shoes and frilly skirts and bows.
The casual observer doesn’t really see anything other than a regular kid. And when I try and explain to people about Miss M, I think most of them can’t understand. My husband recently said “Unless you’ve lived with it, you just don’t know.”
Anyway, she didn’t qualify for services. She was on her very best behavior. Why wouldn’t she be? She had nothing to be anxious about. There were no other kids to upset her, there was a room full of toys and a person giving her undivided attention and one-on-one play. She was having conversations with them and counting and making intelligent connections all over the place. She knew we were talking about her and even threw in a fake whiney episode at the end to get a bit of extra attention. I’m sure that nailed it for them. I’m just a mother who doesn’t know how to deal with her 3 year old. One of the assessment team actually said something along the lines of “Most mother’s with a 3 year old just have to ignore the tantrums and move on.”
Wow. What a pearl of wisdom.