Friday, April 24, 2009

So What's Normal Anyway?

Mister Man has had developmental delays since he was an infant. The majority of his issues are driven from a lack of core strength. Without a core, he couldn't talk. Talking late means his social was delayed since he couldn't communicate. The core also delays his gross and fine motor, as you have to be able to control your core to control your shoulder to control your whole arm to control your lower arm to control you hand to control your fingers.

It's a long process to remediate this, and we're still working on it. He's been receiving therapies since he was 17 months old, and at his third birthday, he moved into a special needs school to continue his therapies. He started out in a self-contained classroom receiving over two hours of PT, OT and speech each week.

He's made huge progress with the right kinds of teachers and activities and therapists over the past two and a half years. He doesn't automatically stick out in a group of kids anymore -- although there are times he does -- and he has friends that he loves playing with who also enjoy playing with him. In accordance, his minutes of therapy have slowly decreased.

Today, we had his IEP meeting. It was a big one, as it also was the one to requalify him for an IEP, in addition to the transition to the kindergarten team at our local elementary and the annual review of his progress. And they scheduled it for an hour. Silly people!

The good news is that the meeting went well. He's made huge strides that not only I'm seeing but that the school also recognizes. They give him standardized tests to measure his skills (not academic but physical), and there were some that are now above average where all had previously been significant delays.

This made my heart sing.

Each of the therapists also gave a verbal narrative of the concerns and achievements that they've witnessed. And now? Some of them just make me shake my head. They had two concerns in particular that really make me wonder if they have a skewed version of normal. What they describe sounds fairly typical to me when I see other kids from our neighborhood and elsewhere at the age of five or six.

When Mister Man wants to get someone's attention, and that person is across the room, he'll frequently shout, "Hey!" instead of walking over to the person and addressing them by name in a quiet voice. Seriously? Seriously, this is a concern? Show me a kid who doesn't shout from across the room, please!

And another big concern is that when a therapist came over to chat with Mister Man, he was reading a book -- one of his favorite activities. The therapist began reading the book to him, then stopped reading and asked him an unrelated question. He didn't answer the question but instead said "Keep reading. What's the next word?" He didn't say please or phrase it as a question. And he wanted to (gasp) get back to his preferred activity instead of talking to the therapist. And this was cited as a social skill that he needs to work on. Uh-huh.

The good news is that with these types of criteria, I know the school won't need to worry about running out of kids who qualify to attend. Manners -- even for parents who work on them, and we do -- aren't the forte of a five year old, and that to me seems to be pretty typical. They're definitely things we need to work on, and we plan to do so, but I wouldn't call it something requiring an IEP. To me, at least, this is just education. Normal education.

And really, if these are the kinds of things that the school is focusing on now -- and there are other things, as he tends to get in people's faces when he gets excited and his fine motor is still not at age level -- I'm totally cool with that.

Mister Man, you've done a ton of really great work, and I'm so proud of you!


Kori April 24, 2009 at 3:59 PM  

YAY for a good report. I yell "Hey" across the room all the time. Works for me.

Aunt Julie April 24, 2009 at 4:29 PM  

Although therapists and Special Ed teachers generally do a wonderful job, don't you think they're just trying to reach sometimes so they can "put it in the report?" Sounds to me like Mr. Man has really come a long way. Good for him!

septembermom April 24, 2009 at 7:12 PM  

Mister Man is doing great! And so are you and your husband! My boys always yell across the room to get my attention. Big deal. It's terrific how Mister Man loves to read. That's wonderful :)

Angie's Spot April 24, 2009 at 8:31 PM  

Yay for MM! Great progress report and congrats to you all! And I agree with VeggieMom that it seems to me that as good as these professionals can be, it certainly seems at times that they are reaching to find something to put in the report.

morninglight mama April 24, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

How fantastic for MM! Sounds like he's been working his little tush off! :) And, please let us know if they figure out how to 'address' his 'issue' of yelling across the room, because I have five of us under this roof who are prone to that particular behavior!

Pam April 25, 2009 at 7:44 AM  

Good job for Mister Man! When I taught 1st grade I sometimes had to write goals for IEPS. I thought some of the "requirements" that others added were silly.
All kids yell across the room sometimes.
Sounds like he has made great progress, those other "issues" will be overcome in time.

MaBunny April 25, 2009 at 7:53 AM  

Oh Michelle, that is fantastic!
Shame on those two therapists for them thinking he wasn't normal in those two areas - my 10 yr old does it because she has sloth moments lol, or she thinks I'm slave not mom, lol. I'll be busy, across the house and i hear MOOOMMMMMM, can you bring me a bottle of water?

Yay for Mr Man!

Mary April 25, 2009 at 9:27 AM  

Awesome! Special Education has its place and they do great things, but they sure have trouble letting go don't they? Great job, Mister Man!

Femin Susan April 25, 2009 at 9:50 AM  

gorgeous!"Special education is very good and it does great in future"this is what my mother says every then and now. now I totally agree with her.

thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving that kind comment. feel free to visit again.

Angela April 25, 2009 at 9:52 AM  

It sounds like your little guy is doing GREAT and I agree with others - sounds like the therapists just wanted something to harp on. That sounds like totally normal kid behavior to me. Seriously!

Cookie April 25, 2009 at 3:26 PM  

Wow! Yikes @ some of those "concerns." I hate to say it but it seems once your kid is "labeled" it can be really hard to get them "unlabeled." I know we went through it with my son not being able to speak English :S

Michelle April 25, 2009 at 7:19 PM  

Kori - I'm with you. It's possible that some of the yelling from across the room (or house) is genetic. On both sides....

Veggie Mom - He really has. And I'm cool with him having minutes and an IEP "just in case" he regresses on anything, but with his academics, I feel like they're trying to use this against him.

septembermom - Oh, it's his favorite activity. Bar none. Good to know that the yelling across the room is common at least.

Angie - I appreciate the support. It definitely makes me feel better, as does the positive report (on most things).

morninglight mama - Oh he has... now we have our instrinsic strengthening program to start. And if I figure that one out, I'm starting to think that I should patent my solution ;)

Pam - Coming from someone who's taught 1st grade, that really makes me feel better. I just don't know what normal is anymore.

MaBunny - True, but their point was that he didn't add the "mom" part, too -- just that he wanted your attention kind of thing. So now I'm hyperparanoid about it.

Mary - In our district they have trouble letting go... but I will admit that I'd rather this side of it than a district that won't let him in to start or pushes him out too early!

Susan - It's so true. The brain and everything else is so much more malleable when young.

Angela - That's my fear... and also partly why I'm debating putting him into private school next year. Where he'll have a totally fresh start.

Cookie - Ohhh, I saw the issues you had on that point. It can cause its own set of issues, can't it?

Melisa Wells April 27, 2009 at 7:13 AM  

It's always nice when committees of people have to "look" for issues. :)

Yay Mister Man!

Ryan Ashley Scott April 27, 2009 at 12:15 PM  

Awww, good for him! Sounds like he's come so far and is catching up wonderfully. I agree with you about the two points - and I think it would seem the therapist might have more of a social issue when she's going around interupting kid's reading time. That's just rude.

Michelle April 27, 2009 at 8:45 PM  

Melisa - The ironic thing is that there definitely ARE issues... but those aren't the ones that I'd focus on. But yeah, hugely different from two and a half years ago!

RAS - He's definitely come a long way. Trust me, the therapists have their agendas of what they want to get done with who on what day and when... and one way or the other, they're going to get their minutes in :)

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