Yesterday we had an excellent and slightly rare meeting.
Before Christmas we had a review with SALT (speech and language therapist) who ended it with "I'm not really concerned but....*trots out not one but two further referrals concerning lack of speech*". I was left thinking, jesus woman, just SAY IT-it's alright, I had actually noticed that most two and bit years olds have more than about 10 words on a really good day and thus things weren't running as smoothly as they could! It really frustrates me when people try and sugar coat things before ramming another thing through that just highlights you're in a pickle. I know they do it not to scare you silly and set off the presence of the almighty (and frequently wrong) Dr Google, but then what actually happens is that you just get a bigger unpleasant shock when surprise, surprise, the next blunt-er professional you see says, "Do you know your child is delayed ...*insert delay shocker here* months?".
So anyway, we were referred to one speech parent & child group and also to the Early Years Support team, who are similar to portage. We are still waiting to the former as there is a waiting list and we had the latter meeting yesterday. It went better than I had hoped. Essentially, it was a play assessment to judge Wriggles' maturity through play and catch a glimpse of what amounts to her learning abilities and to get an idea of her intellectual capacity. Although speech does come into it, it helps to know if you're looking at a child with delay in all areas e.g. immature speech and some cognitive delay or immature speech on it's own. I was fairly confident that Wriggles is more or less on track cognitively and definitely for corrected age; then again I think the sun shines out of her arse so am probably not the best objective judge.
The meeting was off to a good start when H, the EYS (Early Years Support) worker said Wriggles' reputation had preceded her and she has heard for months from her colleagues who know Wriggles through physio and Splish, Splash, Bounce that Wriggles is simply a sunny delight encased in a mad toddler. Cue first proud mum moment. Together with our SALT, we sat and watched and interacted with Wriggles playing around the room as well as vaguely discussing her history, what else is going on health-wise for her, future plans for nurseries and her communication boundaries. Pretty quickly, H said she felt that there was very little they could do from a referral point of view right now. Wriggles was clearly "as bright as a button" (second proud mum moment) and was demonstrating a good overview of play, both independent and social and seemed to have a good grasp of concepts, problem solving and memory. She did discuss with our SALT, C, about possibly referring us to a group of children with language delay just on single words (definitely us. I will fall over with surprise when Wriggles strings words together) but after the pair of them talked about it, it was decided that although that fits Wriggles' language needs, unlike the rest of the children currently in the group she doesn't have the cognitive delay also, so H felt the group would not push her enough as she needs appropriate input to facilitate speech.
What this all essentially means, and the main thing that came out the meeting, is that when we come to looking at playgroups, nurseries and school we are looking at going into mainstream establishments. We will stay on EYS books so that when the time comes they can help us pick the most appropriate places and broker any meetings, alongside physio and the community nursing team. Depending on progress, it will need to be liaised to ensure it is a setting compliant with Wriggles' physical needs (which physio would mange, maybe by providing a walker or other mobility aid and possibly some assistance at times) and also a place supportive of Makaton and BSL signing as this still plays a big part in our lives and routine. I had worried that the physical and language delay might hold her back, and in one way it does. I have noticed, in her correct peer group, Wriggles does get left out physically because she hasn't the ability to run off, jump, move around in great strides-she is reliant on someone or something to move her. In a slightly younger group, it is still an issue but less so as slightly younger children don't bat an eyelid about crawling around or having a mum-walker whereas already I have seen 2- and almost 3 year olds 'baby' Wriggles in group situations because she seems at first glance, slightly more babyish in her movements or exchange of communication. But in another way, this meeting affirmed what I hoped to be true, that despite having some extra hurdles to overcome, Wriggles, possibly with some extra support and the right setting, should be able to settle nicely in her peer group and not just cope but thrive. H noted that through play, even though she doesn't have the speech currently, Wriggles demonstrated enough understanding and interest to be more than able to "join in" even in a less vocal capacity. Of course this is very early days, we haven't tried an educational setting yet and there is the whole other issue of needing feeding and a few sensory quirks Wriggles has. But one step at a time.
Because right now, I'm doing a jig on the moon and no-one can spoil it!*
This is possibly the first time we have had a meeting and not come out with another referral or after having another issue flagged up.
This is a great step when professionals note down Wriggles positives as well as problems.
This is one of the first times, if not the first time, I have come out thinking maybe, I am doing something right after all. Maybe I haven't buggered things up for her by either prematurity (thanks a bunch, womb), my own struggles with my mental health or by not being super mum with a play date here, an award winning toddler group there, French lessons, baby yoga, yadda yadda yadda.
This is a moment I will savour and remember next time some ignoramus says "So, isn't she walking or talking yet? Why?".
We might not have left behind prematurity or medical needs, but it is so nice to celebrate something for a change with those who oversee her development. And by the way, "nice" doesn't even do it justice. It is EPIC.
*don't you dare. Let me have my minute!