Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

I Can Think of Many More Appropriate Labels April 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 2:04 PM

With Matthew’s third birthday coming up in just 12 days (oh my goodness, I am about to have two 3-year olds!!), we are working to phase him out of early intervention. Early Intervention is our state program that offers services to children who are developmentally behind from birth to three years old. Once the child turns three, their local school system takes over if services are still required. We have had multiple meetings with our local school so that they could evaluate Matthew and see where he stands developmentally.

To receive services through the school system, the child has to show an even greater delay than is required to receive early intervention services. Since Matthew has thrived so much in early intervention, I wasn’t expecting that he would qualify for much. Their services range from things like 5 day/week preschool to simply having a therapist work with your child once/month on speech, or even having someone consult with your child’s preschool teacher at a private school, like where we send Isaac. I knew he would qualify for some kind of speech help, at least I thought he would, but like I said, he has come so far.

Our eligibility meeting was yesterday. I won’t leave you hanging. He showed significant delays in multiple categories. If it was just speech, then they would have just called it “speech delay” but because his delays included speech, social-emotional, and cognitive, he got labeled as Developmentally Delayed.

And I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that it made me sad and defensive and lots of other feelings all at the same time. Because it is a label. And I know it doesn’t define him and it doesn’t mean he is dumb or handicapped or anything, but I don’t like it.

I am not saying they are wrong. I agree with the results. But it is hard to hear because I know how smart he is. He knows his shapes, he can count to ten, he knows all of his colors, even stupid colors like gray, he knows his animals and the sounds they make. He can recognize all numbers and some letters.

But he can’t tell me when he wants juice.

And last week for the very first time he told me he was hungry. And that was HUGE.

You might wonder why he scored so low on the cognitive testing when he is so very obviously brilliant (because, he is!!). They consider a child to have “mastery” over something when they can do it in multiple situations with different people, etc. For instance, if just about anyone asked Isaac to name body parts, he could do it. Here at home, at school, at the park. And Matthew can and will do that stuff for me. But he refused to do a lot of things for the teacher. And he said “no” to everything she said. Even when he meant yes. Unfortunately that is not uncommon with him. So that didn’t help too much.

He works so hard. SO HARD. You can see him working when he is trying to tell me something, when he is trying to recall information. Jason and I laugh because sometimes he moves his head up and down with the effort to say certain words–I joke that he has to rattle the words out of his head.

And yes, he has only been home for 5 months–I am not saying I expected more from him or anything like that. But speech has been REALLY, REALLY hard. From what I hear from other adoptive parents of toddlers, I suspect he is having a harder time than most other kids. And I want him to get help. He deserves it. We all deserve it.

And I am so very grateful that help is available to us, to him. Did I mention that this preschool is FREE? Yes, I do love free things. But this free thing hurts just a little.

I am feeling very conflicted about all of it.

We will take advantage of it. In the end, this is where he will go, he will receive services that he needs. They have a specially tailored plan to help him meet measurable goals. And he will blow them away.

But I am mourning too. I thought my boys would be together next year at the preschool we know and love. In different classes, but seeing each other in chapel and on the playground. I am mourning this new “label” (and yes, I still know it doesn’t mean anything and it’s not like he’s wearing a scarlet letter, but cripes!!), especially because I was starting to forget he had any kind of special needs at all. When he first came home, I thought about his diagnosis non-stop and would watch his behavior and wonder if it was a side effect of his condition. But recently, I find myself forgetting that he is anything but a typical boy. I go days and weeks without considering the condition of his brain. And they reminded me. And I didn’t want to be reminded.

Developmentally delayed is not the label I wanted my child to have, and it is certainly not the way I think of him.

If I had to put a label on Matthew, I can think of a few that fit much better:
Best Turn Taker
Most Charming
Meanest Stink Eye
Biggest Bacon Lover
Train Aficionado
Hairiest Toddler Ever
Owner of the Roundest and Fastest Flowing Tears
Never Being the First to Let Go during a Hug
Most Gentle and Loving 2-Year Old, especially with Babies and Small Animals
Skinniest Legs
Genius–uh huh, I said it. Mark my words.

Oh yes, I can think of plenty of labels for my little boy, and I’m sure his preschool teachers will enjoy finding out ALL of these wonderful things about him next year as well.


9 Responses to “I Can Think of Many More Appropriate Labels”

  1. I'm in mourning! I will miss that sweet boy! But, he gets to go make someone else's day. I'm glad he will get free help, and he will really be a peer to so many kids in his class like he is now. Matthew has a new calling and God will use him again. What a blessing both of your boys have been to me!

  2. Tracy Says:

    Once again a wonderful post. Once again I relate to what you say. I have been putting off having Asher tested… I keep saying, oh, he is fine… he will start talking better soon. HMMM… I know how you feel about the label. But, we know what really fits our children. You are a great mom! I am sure Matthew will continue to bloom in your care!

  3. Wonderful post. You adopted a toddler so that brings in much more challanges than adopting a baby. You have done wonderful and I love all your labels of him 🙂

  4. Sue Says:

    you show so much love, strength, care, concern, and delight for your boys – there is no way they both won't continue to thrive…regardless of any label given to them.and, if there must be labels…do not forget yours: OUTSTANDING MOM!

  5. Tricia Says:

    How nice to (virtually) meet you – I love your story already, and I look forward to following one another. What a beautiful family you have!

  6. We're just about to enter this phase as well – Olive will be aging out of EI, and we have to make a choice. Because of my background in public schools, I have many reservations about having her tested by them. And I imagine myself feeling similarly to you – that these people don't know my girl, what she's capable of. I *know* she has delays, but I don't need some impartial person's opinion of who she is. Labels suck, and I want to put them off as long as I possibly can!Sigh… can't they stay young and in our loving arms forever?(And I love YOUR labels for him!)

  7. Amber Says:

    Why don't you just put him in the private school with his brother and see what he can achieve?He may surprise everyone, but you…You already know he can do it!He made need help and support but you are there for him.

  8. chris Says:

    You know, Matthew and Isaac have been so close…I almost think of them as twins. I think this is sad partly because it is a separation (loss). All of a sudden it is clear these are two different boys with different talents, interests and kinds of intelligence. The questions are now about what is best for each individual instead of "the boys" as a team. Growing and moving forward so often involves loss–so hard on parents!

  9. Lori Says:

    I can relate to this post. We are at the point where we are understanding that Jack is a little "different" from the other kids his age. He's very cognitive and verbal but his needs are slightly different and his motor skills are just not where everyone else is. He has some things he does that show us he's going to be different and maybe have some specialized needs and it's very difficult to come to terms with that.I'm trying to focus on the fact that I like different – I like special – I like a challenge too! And our "different" kids ARE brilliant!! I'm thankful for that as well!

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