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!