For the past two and a half weeks we've been taking Caitie into the local school district preschool to be tested for developmental delays. While we knew she was behind other kids we didn't realize just how far behind she is. She has 'severe' developmental delays in speech/communication and cognitive development. She also has some signs of autism. I've worried off an on about her development for just over a year now and had hoped as well as assumed that this was just something she'd outgrow and that she'd catch up to the other kids her age soon enough.
Like most mothers I want my child to succeed and I would hope life to be easier for her than it was for me. I would like her to be better and do better than I did and yet here she is already struggling with just saying a complete sentence or relaying a single thought. On average other children her age have 100% understandable speech. Caitlyn's is at less than 30%. It's both easy and hard for me to believe that she's so far behind. She has such a difficult time communicating to me and it's frustrating for everyone, especially her. But she is so sweet and silly. Caitie loves to draw and sing, and she's so affectionate and strives to be good. She's so bright and loves to be funny that many times it's hard for me to think of her as 'behind' or to even believe that she might have something like autism. At the same time I look at it and go 'yeah that makes sense' because of all the difficulties she has communicating with us and sometimes even understanding us.
I can't even descibe the overwhelming feeling of relief I felt when the teachers explained to me that her delays were not because of anything we as parents had or had not done for her. I know that many days I wonder if I'm a good mom, if I'm doing enough for my girls, if I'm teaching them enough or spending enough time with them, reading to them enough or playing with them as much as I need to. My hubby constantly tells me I'm a good mother, but sometimes I wonder if I really am. Especially when Caitie started falling behind. Then I was constantly thinking that it was something that I just wasn't doing. I bought flash cards and preschool books. I drew shapes and showed her letters. I read her more books and none of it seemed to get her to 'catch up' to the other kids. When they told me it wasn't me, I almost cried right there in front of all three special ed teachers.
Then came the part where they told me she's eligible for the free preschooling services which will target her communication and cognitive delays. She'll even meet with a speech therapist at least once a month all at no cost to us which is an absolute Godsend. Preschool is completely unaffordable for us let alone having her see a speech therapist. I was, and still am, so happy that my dear little Caitie is able to get the help she needs from such patient and enthusiastic teachers (they even played with her during different parts of the meeting so that she wouldn't be bored). They relayed to me their goals and had high hopes for her. Caitie doesn't start Kindergarten until fall '09 so she has a little while to catch up. I'm so happy that we were able to get her tested now and have this help available for her before she starts Kindergarten. She loves to learn and I think she'll really like preschool. I pray that this will help her and that she'll be able to reach the goals that are set. In the meanwhile I'll just keep doing what I can and enjoy my silly little Caitie while she's still small.
On a side note I haven't had the chance to finish scrapping from earlier since I've been trying to relay the info to family that was worried about her and fill out the paperwork for her enrollment between regular mom duties. She gets to start school on Monday so it's push push push to get things done and have her prepared with all the stuff she'll need by then. I'm excited for her and I'm so glad we got to this early.