After sharing concerns regarding Jackson's speech at his 18 month well check, our pediatrician referred us to our county's Children's Developmental Services for an evaluation. A team of three people spent two hours at our home this morning evaluating him. They interacted with Jackson and asked Jesse and I numerous questions.
We weren't surprised to learn that Jackson has a significant delay in speech and qualifies for services. He has the communication skills of a 12-14 month old. One evaluator commented that she noticed Jackson breathes through his mouth and doesn't move his tongue appropriately. This might explain why he says most vowel sounds and open consonant sounds, but struggles with closed sounds. Our team created an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan).
We were surprised to discover that he also has emotional/social delays. Apparently, it is abnormal for a 19 month old not to interact with other children. Jackson has always entertained himself. He is curious and playful and likes to explore on his own. When around other children, Jackson plays in the same space as them, but he does not interact with them. If his peer takes a toy from him, he gets a new one and keeps playing. He does not toss a ball or roll a car back and forth with others. I always assumed that was his personality and he was just a laid-back kid. Unfortunately, this indicates enough of a delay for Jackson to have a social goal on his IFSP.
Our speech goal is to incorporate as much sign language as possible and to practice language skills before Jackson reaches a frustration level. (That is much easier said than done!) He'll receive a speech evaluation next week and we'll set up a plan for frequency of services after we complete financial services.
Our social/emotional goal is to play with Jackson by mimicking his actions, rather than redirecting or teaching him a new game. The evaluator explained that Jackson doesn't want me to change the rules of the game, so he disengages in me when I try to play. The teacher in me wants to constantly explain and redirect Jackson to properly sort shapes and play with toys the "right" way. I forget that he's 19 months old and it's okay to just explore and play. I am supposed to repeat what he does and follow his cues until he (hopefully) interacts with me.
I have mixed emotions and am trying to process everything. I don't like the labels and the thoughts that Jackson already qualifies for special education services. On the other hand, I'm optimistic that we'll see improvements and Jackson will finally be able to verbally communicate his wants and needs.