Yesterday morning, I had a meeting with the Department of Health Services’ Birth to Three Program. The Birth to Three Program is an early intervention program that assists parents in evaluation and assessment of a child, the development of an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan), and services related to speech and motor development.
Initially, I sought the assistance of Birth to Three when my daughter, Emily, wasn’t walking at an appropriate age. Rather than get up and walk about, she shuffled around everywhere on her knees. I am amazed she did not suffer from an unbelievable case of rug burn, but she seemed happy and comfortable shuffling about everywhere from 12 to 16 months. Although she was quite content, I was concerned.
While my concern was only connected to her gross motor skills, Birth to Three requires both a formal motor and speech development evaluation. After these evaluations, we learned that she had a slight delay in both areas. However, we didn’t begin services immediately as I was hospitalized, on bed rest for a month, and had then delivered Emily’s baby brother following the evaluation. In this time, Emily also began walking with ease. However, she has continued to have some delay in speech – just enough to qualify her for services at exactly 25%.
I am not concerned for Emily’s intelligence. She follows directives beautifully and can easily identify and point to a named object; even the speech therapist stated her amazement at Emily’s ability to properly label such obscure items as record player and unicorn. She loves being read to, asking frequently “read Momma” or “more book.”
Still, she whispers a lot of her words and they are not always easily distinguishable from one another. Is she saying “moon,” “more,” or “milk”? It can be hard to tell if you’re not her parent, and even I admit I sometimes struggle. Further, although she can say a number or words, she doesn’t always “use her words,” despite my requests. For example, rather than say “more milk” she will walk over to me standing at the kitchen counter and just tap my leg and then begin banging on the refrigerator door with her milk cup.
Therefore, the case manager, speech therapist, and I finally came back together again and developed an IFSP for Emily yesterday. That IFSP contained three primary goals: 1. Emily will learn to make requests using her words. 2. Emily will learn to form clearly distinct words using proper endings (i.e. “door” vs. “do”; “moon” vs. “mo”). 3. Emily will begin to use more two word phrases.
Right now, most of Emily’s two word phrases contain the word “no.” She says “oh no” when something sad or shocking happens in a cartoon. For example, whenever that sneaky fox Swiper shows up on Dora the Explorer, Emily gasps “oh no.” She is also fond of “No Dog!” and “No Kitty!” while wrangling up the animals at her grandparent’s house. Apparently, she has deemed it her duty to ensure the cat stays off the counter and the dogs don’t jump up on the couch.
We were headed to that very grandmother’s house today. I had partially dressed my daughter, who just recently turned two this past month, to head off to her grandma’s house. She had a fresh diaper change (potty training is scheduled to start in the new year) and her shirt on. Before I had her pants on, she squirmed away from me and began to run out of her bedroom. “Emily,” I said, “Come back here. You need pants on if you’re going to Grandma’s house.”
Emily turned to me and spoke a new two word phrase containing the word “no”: “No pants!” She proudly smiled after her proclamation and started to head out of the room once more, after momentarily pausing to provide me this response. That cute little stinker must have known she had just met one of her goals. More two word phrases, and no pants. I am a strangely proud mother of a silly daughter (whom I did place pants on before leaving the home).