early intervention: getting in (part 1)

Yesterday, Phoebe and I made our last appearance at the play group we’ve been attending since January. I’m sad that we won’t be going back. Phoebe loved it.

It actually wasn’t just your average play group, though. It was part of Early Intervention services that Phoebe was receiving for a speech delay. As of last Monday, it was official that Phoebe would no longer qualify: she no longer has a delay.

I’ve wanted to write about our experiences for a while, in part because I think it’s good to have stories out there for people who may be concerned about what it means to be qualify for Early Intervention services. I’ve also found the process quite interesting, as a linguist. Plus it’s been something big going on in my life as a parent, too.

It turns out I have quite a bit to say, so this post will be just the start. (Also, I have to get to bed. It’s after 1:00 am now.)

Way back at the end of November, I wrote about how we were going to have an assessment to see about a possible language delay for Phoebe. The pediatrician was concerned that Phoebe wasn’t speaking often. I resisted, being sure that Phoebe was just taking her time. And then decided that, while I knew more about language development than your average mother (and probably more than the pediatrician, even), I wasn’t qualified to make an assessment.

I told people back then that I was about 85% sure that Phoebe wouldn’t need services. A funny number that.

As it turned out, Phoebe did qualify for services.

The initial assessment was actually quite a lot of fun. A team of specialists came over to our house: a case manager, a developmental specialist, and a language specialist. They ran a bunch of tests, which actually involved playing a bunch of games. Phoebe had a fun time. She was cooperative and remarkably at ease for having strangers around asking her questions. While we’d worried that she would clam up, she spoke quite a bit for what was her norm at the time.

As the core of the assesment process, they gave an approximate age level, in months, for a vareity of developmental areas: fine motor skills, gross motor skills, self care, cognitive abilities, receptive language and expressive language, and probably a couple of others that aren’t coming to mind just now. Phoebe was 21 months at the time of the assessment, and she tested right around age level for a few things, and several months above age level for a few more. Her receptive language skills were remarkably high, testing at 27 months. 6 months above age level! (And they don’t necessarily push the tests to the limits, once they establish that there is no delay.)

But for expressive language, measuring what she would actually say, she was scored at around 16 months. Almost a full year behind her receptive language score. Also, it meant that her expressive skills were below her age level. A 5 month delay, in fact, which qualified her for Early Intervention services.

While we had some doubts, we decided that if this was something that could benefit Phoebe, we should take advantage. We had heard that such services were generally very positive, and that even if they did not help, they were very unlikely to actually harm or hinder. We would be having weekly one-on-one visits with a specialist, and could also attend a weekly toddler group.

Things got going slowly due to the time of year. The offices were closed for a couple of weeks at the end of December, people went on vacation, and January arrived before we started services.

To be continued…

6 thoughts on “early intervention: getting in (part 1)

  1. Thanks so much for this. I’ve been concerned about Alex not really talking and got irritated with my BFF when she suggested I look into early intervention. Everything you said about age and ability in other things besides speech is pretty much where we are. I think the timing of your post and my upcoming leave is telling me something.

  2. heather-
    Well, if it helps one person sort through it, then I’ll be glad. I know I had a lot of questions when we were considering what to do.

    Thanks for letting me know!

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