Micah has a lot of nicknames. And out of the lot (a whole lot) quite a few are actually very unattractive. Mee-Kee Pants is one of those. But he gets called that A LOT. Poor kid! I blame Jared for starting this one, but we really are mean parents.
Micah has been busier the past few weeks, and I just realized I haven't blogged about any of his activities/ goings-on. So here's a synopsis:
I emailed Micah's used-to-be physical therapist at CDR (Child Development Services), which is Virginia's birth-three program, in late January about some concerns and questions I had about Micah. My primary concern was regarding language. Micah didn't have any words (not that big of a deal), didn't use many gestures to communicate (a bigger deal-- he wasn't pointing and made little effort to communicate much at all), and also didn't seem to understand language. He didn't respond to questions like, "Where's Mama?" at all. He also seemed to have some sensory over-sensitivity which made me nervous because of Luke's history. His therapist recommend another evaluation, so we started the process all over again.
It took almost a month before the full evaluation by which time he was making requests for things by bringing us objects and also by screaming or whining. He also responded (just sometimes) to words like Mama and Dada. This time he was screened by an early childhood special education teacher and a speech therapist. The special ed teacher said she didn't see anything to be concerned about regarding his socialization because he did communicate through eye contact and some body movements (plus he was starting to reach and vocalize); he was interested in the people in the room; he sought out contact with adults. She also said that his sensory issues were not severe enough to warrant real concern. I should just keep an eye on him. The speech pathologist further expounded on all the things that count as communication. So I realized that Micah was communicating more than I realized. I was getting the messages he was giving and responding. I just wasn't "counting" his communication as communication. I hope you understand what I'm trying to say. Anyway. But the speech pathologist noted substantial (for a 15 mo. old) delays in receptive and expressive language.
So Micah started speech therapy once a week. I know, I know. A lot of you are thinking that seems extreme for a 16 month old baby. But if the intervention is available I say, "Why not?" And it has been very helpful. I do and always did the things I knew a "good" parent does. Jared and I both did. We read to our boys, sang to our boys, talked to our boys. I would just talk about all kinds of things while I drove because it was drilled into me that I needed to expose my kids to language. But for whatever reason my children don't just pick it up like a lot of kids do. Exposure is not enough. They need explicit instruction. They need planned out strategies. And I don't know all those strategies and what-not, not having a degree in speech pathology. So the sessions with Micah are really training sessions for me to know what I should work on during the rest of the week.
After 2 sessions and a lot of newly implemented strategies around the house (and a very good book later) Micah signs MORE on his own to make a request for more food or to play a game/ read a book again, responds to a few "routine" words like EAT and BATH, shouts "Up-ah!" (up) on a regular basis (That is definitely his first consistent word!), Mama (every once in awhile), dog. He is making some animal sounds, and he is mimicking other words too. He says "Baa!" for bath, "bah" for ball, and I know he says more but I can't think of them.
His therapist suggested that I get Micah into the CDR play group. He had his first play date on Friday. I was expecting him to struggle and get upset, but he went right in and just started exploring. He didn't need me at all! So I went into the observation room to see if he would be alright even without me there. He was a champ! I think partly it was because the room and the teachers were amazing. There were 5 kids and 4 adults. There were stations spread out throughout the room-- it was pretty much a kid's paradise. There was a "library" area, a train station, a car station, a kitchen area, a dress-up area, tables with gears and puzzles attached, slides, an obstacle course. And more. It was incredible! They had a snack time. Micah sat down in the chair with all the bigger kids and ate his crackers. Then they gave the kids applesauce. They let Micah feed himself (which he thoroughly enjoyed!) and I realized that I haven't given him much opportunity to feed himself. So we've been working on that this week. It's a messy business!