Evan had an extensive assessment with the school district to see if he qualified for therapy under the school system's requirements for "disability." He was observed and questioned by a school psychologist, a speech-language pathologist, special education teacher, an occupational therapist, physical therapist, and an adaptive p.e. teacher. We had a lovely meeting with all of them about a month after the assessment where they went through their findings:
Pre-Academic/Learning Skills and Fine Motor: Evan has mild delays in fine motor and academic skills. Not enough to qualify for OT or academic therapy at school.
Speech: Evan is a speech genius. He talks a lot. He makes lots of typical 3-year old articulation errors but is understandable enough that he doesn't qualify for speech at school.
Gross Motor: On a physical assessment where the standard scores are between 8-12, Evan scored a 3. This shouldn't be a surprising finding for anyone who knows Evan. This is the area that qualifies Evan to start attending preschool where he will be able to continue receiving physical therapy as well as adaptive p.e. sessions.
Cognitive: This area was super interesting for me. We know that spina bifida is primarily a physical disability, NOT a cognitive one. In fact, it kinda bugs me when people act surprised when Evan does "smart" things. It sometimes seems that people assume an intellectual disability accompanies a physical disability. But anyway, we do know that spina bifida is often associated with learning delays--typically math and executive functioning kind of stuff. So Evan's cognitive assessment showed a wide discrepancy between his ability to process verbal and nonverbal tasks. (Verbal task meaning responding to oral instructions to identify objects and pictures. Nonverbal task meaning matching pictures by visual concept or constructing blocks to imitate a model.) His assessor said they don't usually see such a wide range between the two areas, and that this kind of a gap tends to signify a learning disability. While I've known this could be something we experience, I was surprised to see that a learning disability can manifest itself at such a young age and through an assessment like this. Since he's still so young they won't formally diagnose anything yet, but he will be monitored closely in his preschool program to see how he's progressing. It's possible that by kindergarten or 1st grade they will be able to better identify or label his cognitive needs at school.
So preschool started Monday.
I wish I had been a mother of a preschooler prior to being a preschool teacher. Now I "get it." It was tough to walk away. The report at the end of the day was that it was a rough start but after circle time he was fine and became really chatty. His former speech teachers would probably be in disbelief that "chatty" was the descriptor used for Evan. I was proud.
Evan's class runs Monday-Friday from 7:30-9:30 am. Evan's class is all 3-year olds. One special education teacher and two para-educators. Mon/Wed/Fri will have 7 students who all qualify for preschool based on some sort of disability. There are speech and occupational therapists who regularly visit the class to help these other students and they will continue to monitor Evan. Tues/Thurs will have an additional 7 students who are "typically developing." I love that Evan will have this kind of mix of friends to learn with.
On another note, Evan chose a fire truck birthday this year. He also chose his cake. Eating cake and blowing out candles is basically all he understands about birthdays. All I understood was that Evan LOVES fire trucks, so his party was tailored accordingly. We invited a few friends for pizza and cake at the park and then went to a nearby fire station for a tour. It was Evan-style. Simple, and FIRE TRUCKS.
|The 90+ degree weather was not anticipated for his October birthday, as evidenced by the melting frosting on the front of the cake.|
|Lounging at the fire house|
For Evan's actual birthday--the day after his party--I kept asking him what he wanted to do. All he said was "eat fire truck cake." He said no to most restaurant choices as well as the carousel at the mall, but finally agreed on Costa Vida and a trip to walk around the temple. We closed out the night at home with the requested cake and candles in the new ninja turtle pajamas.