Today we had my 4.5 year old daughter K’s first formal testing session with a speech and language pathologist, the first in a battery of tests my daughter will have in the next coming few weeks.
Overall it was a very good day. I was most worried that she wouldn’t say a word for the two sessions she was supposed to have.
First of all, she threw up in the car on the way over. Okay, no, that’s not the good part, but that it made me remember to have it put in her file that she gets carsick frequently (at least 2x a month) if she eats or drinks milk within an hour of driving anywhere. This is good for them to know because it tells them she has some issues with her vestibular sense. It goes hand in hand with what they suspected earlier – which was that she is retaining some primitive reflexes and she has some sensory issues.
We got there early, so we were able to spend some time there playing, then, K met with a speech and language pathologist. K and I were there for 2.5 hours. The first part she was tested for language comprehension. Fortunately, for most of the questions that she was asked, she was able to point to pictures. They started with questions that were about 6 months below her age and moved up to where she couldn’t answer the questions anymore. Well, she got all the way up to questions that were typically for a child who was 6 years and 11 months, and she was answering them easily and rapidly. So her comprehension is great for her age. In fact, the SLP wants us to come back and get more testing done to see just how high she can go to get an accurate idea of what she can comprehend. The SLP tried to get her to say one word answers occasionally, but K just couldn’t. She could indicate things by pointing, and even was able to answer simple math questions (2+1 and 3-2) with her fingers, but not really talking.
The SLP also was not worried about her attention. She was impressed at how attentive she was during the testing – didn’t get bored with it, and it wasn’t even a challenge for her at all.
We took a break and I gave K a sucker. I thought she did so well, and even though she probably could have used the lunch I brought instead, she didn’t want it, so I gave her the sucker instead. Then we went back in for more stuff.
Then the SLP decided to change things up (since she hit the ceiling for the one test) and she moved on to a game. It was a memory matching game (match items by color, or by function – clothing, things that go, or by number; or something else I forgot). The focus of the game wasn’t on getting anything right (even though she did get 10 matches), but was an ice breaker to help try to be silly and loosen up K.
Well, it worked. The sillier the SLP got, the more relaxed K became and she was becoming so excited and playful that she was first smiling, then giggling, then acting really silly with her hands. Then, something happened – she spoke! She said, “hey!”, when the SLP tried taking her cards, then she kept saying “suckie, suckie, suckie” whenever she saw the sucker I was holding. And the SLP allowed her to take a few sucks every so often while they were playing the game some more.
We then moved into a small sensory room and she kept on being silly and then started talking freely for the rest of the session. She started her off sitting her on a therapy ball that K called a “peanut chair” and then counted to 32 while she was bouncing on it. Then K got to sit on a vibrating pad and press a button that turned the bubbles on a bubble lamp that changed colors. At this point, she was freely talking and answered the SLPs questions.
All the while I’m in the background balling my eyes out because this is the first “stranger” who has been able to get my daughter to talk for the very first time. Even her preschool teacher, who isn’t a stranger, hasn’t been able to get my K to talk once in 6 months.
I was quite surprised that the day went the way it did. I’m closer to finding a reason for her silence. It seems that she is on sensory overload and she becomes anxious, then she shuts down verbally to protect herself.
The SLP is convinced her verbal skills are advanced (that I already knew), and because my K is capable of being so playful and bright, that she asked me how it was that I didn’t end up playing with K all day long (well, I do have 2 other kids and someone has to clean the house sometimes). In fact, she told me she could almost play with her all day and forget she has other obligations that day.
I did tell the SLP I wasn’t worried about her intelligence, but that it wouldn’t matter how smart she was if she couldn’t communicate in school. The school would have no idea how smart she was. But having this testing done now will be great to bring to school when she goes. There will be no way they could say she’s learning disabled or anything because she won’t speak. And hopefully by then, we can get her to speak at school and it won’t even be an issue.
Also, the SLP noticed that my K has tremors (very subtle ones). I forgot to mention them before because they are so subtle and infrequent, that I forget she has them until they happen. So that is also going into her file too.
I was also very surprised to get more information so soon in the game. I was under the impression that they were very close lipped about what goes on when they test. But they were very helpful today in getting me to understand more of what is going on. Of course, the testing isn’t done, and there will be more to the story, but this is HUGE for me. Having them talk to me now has put my fears at ease so much.
I’m so hopeful now where before I was so skeptical and worried.