Sunday, November 2, 2008

Is Early Intervention Worth the Trouble?

When Miss M was born, I was pretty much on my own while DH was at work.  Miss M and I would venture out to the store, sometimes go on walks and occasionally hang out with the neighbor who was only a few days older.  But we didn't participate in any kind of mommy and me groups, structured programs or hang out with other peers.  We didn't have any family living nearby either.

We had a lot of great one-on-one time and I loved it.  I took pictures of her, played with her, read to her, helped her learn her alphabet.  If I needed to microwave something, I would pick her up, point her finger and say the numbers as I helped her push the microwave buttons.  "3-zero-start"

What we recognized as she started to get older is that her rote skills were very strong.  I didn't realize it at the time, but the lack of interaction with other kids was having an impact on the development of Miss M's communication skills.  Before she turned two, we noticed that her ability to express herself verbally was below what "the books" said she should be.  During a visit to her pediatrician, I asked for his opinion.  He told me that it's like a light bulb for some kids - it just turns on and they start spitting out words left and right.  But he didn't have any guarantees so he explained that he could give me a referral to the Regional Center when she turned two or I could self refer.  In California, there are Regional Centers that are funded by the state to help kids that are behind their peers - physically, mentally, developmentally, whatever.  It was broad based and provided the testing needed to make sure Miss M was where she should be.

Well, I decided to self refer since I didn't want to wait until she turned two.  As a result, she was tested and it was determined that while most of her skills were age appropriate, her cognitive and receptive communication skills were significantly below her age.  We had one person, I believe a psychologist, test her and unofficially (yet inaccurately) diagnose her as autistic.  Thankfully, the pathologist that tested her a week later reassured us that she wasn't anywhere near autistic on the scales; she just didn't know how to communicate well. 

So we got an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) approved through the Regional Center that included a Mommy & Me program a few days a week supplemented by in-home speech pathologist visits.  When she turned three, her IFSP was changed to a school district based IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and she started a speech and language preschool program.  When we moved to Iowa, the IEP followed us and it required the local school district to continue the services that were determined necessary by the people in California.

I fought hard for all the services that I thought she needed.  I opened my mind to any suggestions they had to help improve her communication skills.  I didn't worry about the "special education" stigma that she might carry with her through school.  My priority was getting her to where she should be.  Period.

Well, during Miss M's parent-teacher conference last week, we were informed that they didn't see a need to continue IEP services.  The had evaluated her on several different abilities and said Miss M is caught up with her peers in communication abilities and exceeds many in other skills.  On one of the tests, she scored the highest in her class.  They recommended we not renew her IEP when it comes due in January.  To ensure that it's the right approach, they'll do a 45 day trial of no-services where they will discontinue any special education, speech therapy, etc.  If we don't see a lapse, then we know she's good.

So I know that all the proactive therapies, teachers, IFSPs, IEPs, tests, classes and whatnot - all the early intervention work - paid off.  It was all worth the effort knowing that by the time Miss M reached Kindergarten, she was caught up with her peers.  If I had to do it again, I would take every single step, every headache and every heartache.  And if anyone ever asks my opinion on whether they should be proactive with their child, even if they are unsure, I would strongly encourage it.  People may say that their child is delayed because of older siblings "talking for them" or isn't walking because they just think it's easier to crawl.  Whatever the delay or whatever the reason, just ask your school district or physician if there are services available to have your child tested.  You won't regret that you did.


  • Hanging Off The Wire

    Yay for Miss M. That is excellent news. So the professionals said the reason she was "behind" was because she did not have enough interaction with other kids? So does that mean I need to introduce my son to other kids? It has been him, me, and Daddy for 8 months. I hate how people just brush everything off as autism these days.

    By the way, I made a button but I am not sure how to link the picture. You click on it, and it goes to photobucket....durrrr. Also I don't know how to do the text box, so any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  • Nicole Brady

    Guess I didn't explain that very well... no, the experts didn't tell us that, we just figured it was the case. I never really asked that question since I just blamed myself for it!

  • Danielle

    Yay! That is amazing news. and you are so right...early intervention is BEST! It certainly can't hurt and it usually does help. What wonderful news.

  • Sarah

    That is great that she is "all caught up"! You never know what she may have struggled with if you hadn't done it.

    Nice to read something from you again....I haven't checked your blog in forever.

  • Sarah

    *pulls out her chair and stands on it, applauding and cheering*

    THANK YOU!!! Every day I'm so grateful for EI!! For the benefits it's given my two girls...for every step they made BECAUSE of EI...not in spite of!! Thank you for this post!! THANK YOU!!!

  • Anonymous

    Glad to hear she is all caught up! You're right, people should be proactive, they shouldn't delay in getting any help needed, when it comes to things such as that. :D

  • Anonymous

    Hey Nicole-

    I am so happy to hear you are exiting Miss M from Special Ed. We had the same thing follow MY Miss M, and her label stuck until the end of 5th grade. Of course she was in all gifted classes, too. It is just a phrase, so if anyone is afraid of looking into services for feaer of the Special Ed label, just embrace it, and move on.

  • Blessings From Above

    Congrats to Miss M for being all caught up.

    Early Intervention really is a great service. My son was born 4 months early and we started with the Early Intervention program as soon as he came home from the hospital. He is now 20 months old and is doing great developmentally - in large part to our proactive stance with Early Intervention and Help Me Grow services.

  • Pam

    wow! That was great for me to read. My little man (18 months) isn't much of a talker. He has lots of ear infections during those 18 months of his life and he now has tubes. We are giving him a little time to see if the tubes and being able to hear correctly will fix his lack of talking. But I have the number to refer him to early intervention from the doctor. Huby and I decided to give it until he is 2- then if he is still behind, we are calling. Now I feel like maybe I should call right away. But I do want to give the tubes time to see if that helps. Anyway- I am so glad it all worked well for you and everything turned out for the best!!


    Sounds like you are a success story for No Child Left Behind.


  • Michele

    Nicole, just checking in. If I didn't work, I would have done the exact same thing as you when Zoe was a baby. I loved spending time with her, plus I was exhausted so I don't think I would have signed up for for mommy and me, etc. We are finally in Little Gym together and I'm meeting parents whose children have been going to Little Gym since birth basically. It made me feel awful that I hadn't taken Zoe sooner. I'm glad to hear Miss M is doing great.

  • Anonymous

    yes i think that kids turned two should be made to interact with other kids. once they get used to other kids, they can express themselves on their same level. interesting article!

  • Anonymous

    I know everything will be ok and Ms. M will have the best of both world because of you.
    I also agree that early intervention is worth it.
    Thanks for sharing.