Thursday, November 09, 2006

Not the End of the World

Should you not want to listen to me wax neurotic, you may want to skip this particular post.

Today we got back the speech and hearing evaluation results from Zane’s preschool, and they weren’t pretty. I know that those of you who read SRH’s blog already know this, but I take a longer time processing emotionally upsetting information about my child and since he’s my kid, too, I’m going to go ahead and be redundant. (Plus, for those of you who know us well, you are aware that our accounts will be dissimilar enough to make you wonder whether we even live in the same state, let alone raise the same child.)

Last week at Zane’s parent-teacher conference, the teachers were, well I think the only appropriate word to use would be, relieved that we were planning to get Zane evaluated when the local speech and hearing center came to the preschool to do screenings. Fine. We’re good parents. We figured it was a great opportunity to get it done, and Zane is definitely not as speechy/full of speech/talkified as other kids.

So, we got the screening results back today and Zane got a “does not pass” for the speech component. And I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that when I looked at all the checkmarks in the “no” or “cannot do” column, I kind of wanted to vomit. It’s one thing to think your kid is a late talker, and another to see the hash marks and chicken scratch that a complete stranger wrote up about your kid’s inability to use personal pronouns or complete sentences.

Then, I got to hear from Zane’s teacher how he freaked out so badly during the hearing test that they weren’t able to complete it. (The very evil part of me wanted to say, Well of course he freaked out. You all were clearly judging him and determining that he came up short. But really, that’s not fair. His teachers are delightful).

Apparently, as soon as she started taking out the testing equipment, Zane became very afraid and started crying. The teacher said that she just wasn’t willing to have him go through the test. (See, they are delightful, just bearers of bad news).

But, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is a traumatic response from his multiple trips to the ER and doctor’s visits. Almost a year after being taken by squad to the hospital from his doctor’s office, Zane still gets scared of sirens and makes sure that those sirens aren’t “for him”. It’s quite heartbreaking, actually, but I try not to dwell on it over much because we probably have many more hospital visits in his future, and we’re all just going to get through them the best that we can.

But hearing how scared he was without one of us there is kind of like taking a fist to the throat.

(I say this as if I know. For the record, I have never personally experienced a fist to the throat, a punch in the gut, a kick in the teeth or any of the other descriptive phrases for violence that people use.)

I evidenced none of this at the preschool, however. I got in my car and went on to work – where I promptly forgot my first appointment (a scheduled conference call) of the morning. They called me 15 min. after it started to see what had happened to me. So, yeah, that also felt great.

So as not to belabor my point, the outcome is that Zane has speech and maybe hearing issues. But we won’t have the specifics until we get further evaluation. Fortunately, my mother is the CFO at the local speech and hearing center so we were able to get the screening notes translated, and Zane will probably be able to be seen pretty quickly.

(As another aside, if you are going to fail a kid on a test, please use legible handwriting in your notes for the parents. It’s very helpful.)

So I’m pretty bummed out and just feeling so guilty. I really can’t figure out a way around the guilt on this one. If he has hearing issues, it could be fluid in his ears – which could very well be allergy related and so I feel as if I haven’t been vigilant enough with watching his reactions. Even if these theoretical hearing issues are not allergy related, well, I still managed to miss them for his first three years of life.

If hearing issues aren’t affecting his speech, he’ll need speech therapy - yet another series of appointments that Zane will have to go to which will be no fun for him. So there’s more guilt there.

And to top it all off, when I got to the bottom of the screening write-up, I realized that Zane’s race had been marked as Caucasian – which he is, of course, but he’s also Black. And if I have to feel this amount of guilt, my genetic heritage better be recognized.


Kristi said...

Not a good day in your world. How crazy is it that your mom is the CFO of a speech and hearing center? So you know Zane is going to be completely ok, right? Right? That your family is going to rally and everyone is going to be fine, fine, fine.

Which is easy for me to say from a million miles away. But it will. And get writing girl...we're going to be writing buddies come January.

Andrea said...

I'm sorry. I know what that's like. It's one thing to know in your head that there are some issues or differences, and another thing entirely to see an expert writing it all out.

Frances needs glasses--you probably know that. Her prescription is very strong. +10. We had no idea, no idea at all. For the first year of her life I would have told you her vision is perfect, and the only reason we found out at all is because we were referred to an opthamologist to check her optic nerve, relating to one of her misdiagnoses. If it had been left to me noticing something up with her vision--she probably still wouldn't have glasses.

Most parents don't notice. Truly.

lsig said...

I am sure this is an emotional time for you, but I truly believe it will be OK. You've really caught this plenty early; a cousin of mine wasn't diagnosed with a severe learning disability (she couldn't read)until junior high. And, if I may say've been pretty busy keeping him alive, so if you missed this You're still ahead in the grand scheme, you know?

zingerzapper said...

Okay, first of all, I don't think they should have finished and given an outcome with a kid who cowered like a rabbit in the corner. How do you screen a terrified kid? I agree Zane isn't the most articulate talker, but damn, he's 3 and makes up for it in other areas (like knowing everything there is to know about trains). He can focus when he needs/wants to. As far as guilt, stop it. It is a waste of time and energy. You couldn't possibly have done more for that child regarding his food allergies than you already have. I (in my completely unprofessional capacity to make a diagnosis) believe that Zane has experienced a lot in his life and is just taking things a little slower than others. He "gets" things quite easily, he just doesn't articulate them the way others do. So, I say have another evaluation done with you present at the time and we'll go from there. There are not a lot of children who are as loved and adored as Zane and that is a gift!

Zany Mama said...

To all-
Thank you SO much for all the support. It helps a lot.

I'm feeling much better about things today. We've got both evaluations scheduled within the next two weeks, and we're just going to take it from there.

Thanks for all your words and understanding!

peefer said...

Zany Mama, I'm sorry to hear about your stresses with Little Man's development. (I almost wrote "your problems" but that would have been totally wrong because a) the jury is still out, and b) even if there is a particular diagnosis, it seems like Little Man already has the two most important things a child deserves.)

When my boy chipped his tooth (both boys actually), I found it upsetting enough. So, no, I don't know what it's like dealing with things that affect everyday living. But yes, I do understand how quickly and strongly we (parents) are upset. My heart goes out to you.

I'm too to pragmatic to pretend that everything will work out honky-dory for Little Man, but I DO offer you this little fact (and message of hope) about me:

I barely spoke until I was four. Grunts. Single words. My parents considered that I might be mentally retarded (terminology at the time). But they were encouraged by my ability to multiply (numbers). There was no diagnosis at the time. There was no therapist. Just hope, faith, something. About when I turned four, I just started talking more. It's not like words spilled forth like a river, but things must have clicked for me.

Now ... I still grunt from time to time, but it's purely by choice.

You're doing everything you can. Much patience and good luck to all of you.

Anonymous said...

Not that I know anything about raising a child (I hope to in the future, but as of now, I'm no professional), but within the last 2+ years that I have been working for SRH and have seen Zane on sparatic occasions, I have to say that he's a very happy kid. Very lucky to have 2 very caring parents. You 2 should be very proud of yourselves and him. I'd say that he just didn't want to talk to the evaluators. They were wasting his play time and at 3 years old that's what you do, play. He probably didn't understand the whole thing and after all the poking and proding that the doctors to do keep him well, he got scared. I'm almost 28 and I still get scared in any kind of testing situation.

Take this day by day, like you have with all of his health issues and it will be fine in the end. I had a lot of friends growing up with speech issues and they are fine now. Kids grow and develop at different rates, who's to say what's normal.

I'll be thinking of you and looking forward to hearing about what's going on.

Tree Monkey

Mom said...

It's very gratifying to see your friends all rally around you. You must be as special as I think!

kimmyk said...

Wow. Sorry to hear about Little Man. I'm sure it's hard to wrap your head around, but thankfully it's something you can work with right?

Sending good vibes your way...keep your chin up!

Anonymous said...

This SUCKS!!! You know how I feel about you and SRH and your amazing parenting! Anything that comes your way, you do what you need to do.
Hmmm, maybe he is stubborn... doesn't want to do what they want him to do..... hmmm, can't imagine how that's possible :) Hang in there--again, I think life is just trying to make you an expert on another subject.

allrileyedup said...

I'm totally with you on this post.

Both of my children have been diagnosed with speech delay and learning disorders and all sorts of depressing business and are in respective therapy sessions for it (for the record, they both really enjoy speech therapy. It's like one on one playtime for my daughter and it's a full on preschool for my son). Admittedly, when those results came in and I had to be told by professionals that basically, my kids aren't on par with the others, it's only natural, as their primary caregiver, to feel guilt over not doing something right. In my son's case, I already have an immense amount of guilt because he has severe eczema and no matter what I try, his skin continues to invite strangers to say to me "does he have chicken pox?" But I digress... anyway, speech delay is, as your post title already says, not the end of the world.

Both of my kids are incredibly happy kids, and from the sound of your other comments, so is your son. They are social and interactive and get along well with others and I believe that being in touch with their emotions is much more important right now than their ability to distinguish between 'me' and 'you' or point to their elbow.

Oh, and they always cateogrize my children as Caucasian and I am constantly adding "You know, they're also Filipino." I'm with you there too, girl.

Zany Mama said...

Wow! Everyone's comments have been just so positive and supportive that I feel like I need to call my mother-in-law to get a reality check - she'll remind me that most people just are not as wonderful as you folks are. Just know that although my comments back to you may not be overflowing with gratitude, my heart is. Thanks.

It's actually quite a pleasant surprise that my mom's job is working out to my benefit. For years she worked at an animal feed company and since I didn't own any cattle, swine, or llamas, I never really got anything out of it.

January, then. I've been looking for a good writing buddy.

Thanks. That helps me feel like I'm not completely neglectful. Zane's health issues started when he was 10 weeks old, and I'm still trying to figure out the balance between being overly senstive and noticing every single thing and relaxing about the small stuff.

I think I thought the speech was small stuff. Apparently not, but I appreciate that there are other parents who have been in this boat with me.

Thanks for the perspective. That whole keeping him alive thing has indeed been taking up lots of my energy! :)

I miss you!

Once again, thanks for having my back. I do think that there is definitely something to be concerned about, but you remind me to be critical in how I'm framing the concern to myself and others.

Thanks for this. It's truly helpful.

And if by "he has the two most important thing a child deserves" you mean trains and cracklin oat bran, then Zane is definitely a fortunate child.

On the other hand, we feel awfully lucky to have him.

Tree Monkey-
Who knew all that wisdom could come from a woman who works with maps? Maybe you should change jobs to a more "helping" profession.

Thanks for your words.

Thanks for all you've done so far. It's a real testimony to you that everyone at your agency is working so hard to accomodate us. Love.

Thanks! We'll take those vibes!

Are you inferring that SRH or I are willful and stubborn? Because if you are, then I think I should remind you that Jama had to come from somewhere! :)

Thanks for your confidence in us. Maybe at some point, I can turn these various and assorted medical and developmental issues into a book - a sort of Girlfriend's Guide to Chronic Childhood Concerns.

Eh, I'm not sure it would sell.

I have started to hear from a few folks that speech therapy is a big old fun time for the kids, and boy does that make me feel better.

Zane's excema was caused by egg and soy allergies - and ee gads did that take us forever to figure out. Best of luck with that pernicious skin condition, it's a tricky, tricky beast.

Thanks so much for your perspective, it's nice to hear from someone who has been there.