OK. I want to go back and chart the last two years, but the reality is I may never catch up. So, I am going to start from today and then go back and add in. Those of you that know Alyssa won’t need filler, and those of you who need more can always comment. I will try my darndest to reply and get you the information you want/need. This post is going to seem a bit ‘medical’ and not ‘motherly’ but it is the easiest way to lay it all out. 🙂
Today was Alyssa’s biannual IFSP (individualized family service plan) meeting. During this meeting the service coordinator and I lay out three goals we think are attainable for Alyssa over the course of a six month period. If and when she hits one, it is replaced with something new for her to conquer. We work at them but we stop the work for the day when it stops being fun. For us, it isn’t worth jeopardizing her quality of life for the outcome of slightly heightened motor control. Also during this meeting we establish where her skill set is going in. What she is coming to the table with, so to speak. That way, at the end of six months we can look back and see how far she has come. This six months was pretty astounding, truly. I guess I will start there, with the Hawaii Early Learning Profile (HELP) assessment. It is broken into five categories: Physical, Cognitive, Communication, Social/Emotional, and Adaptive. Each of those may have subcategories and each of them also has a mastery level and a scattered skill level. What that means is while she may be firm on one age level, there are certain things that she does above that ‘typical’ age range.
Physical: Gross motor: Mastery 7 months Scattered 10.5 months Fine motor: Mastery 8 months Scattered 10 months.
“Alyssa can sit independently for short periods, using her hands and body for support, she is pulling to a stand, will balance in a stand briefly, she is crawling to negotiate the environment, transitions into prone position. She reaches for, grasps and releases objects, bangs two objects together, removes objects from containers.”
Cognitive: Mastery 7 months Scattered 11 months
“Alyssa plays with paper, slides objects on a surface, imitates familiar gestures, localizes sound, will uncover a toy behind a screen, retains an object in each hand, guides actions on toys, follows moving objects visually, likes to look at pictures in books.”
Communication: Expressive: Mastery 6 months Scattered 12 months Receptive Mastery 8 months
“Alyssa recognizes names of familiar objects and people, understands the meaning of ‘no’, responds to requests paired with gestures, lifts arms to communicate ‘pick-up’, calls out for attention, vocalizes interjections, emotions, loves music and moves to rhythm”
Adaptive (self-help): Mastery 14 months Scattered 20 months
“Alyssa is learning to use a spoon, can bring food to her mouth intentionally, she can drink from an open cup with assistance, has good sleep pattern and loves to explore cabinets, drawers and baskets.”
Social/Emotional: Mastery 17 months Scattered 18 months
“Alyssa is an active explorer, and makes sure that a familiar adult is within visual range. She has preferences in food, toys and people. She is friendly, affectionate and likes social games”
What does all that boil down to? Essentially… Alyssa… is Alyssa LOL! No, really. The easiest way to shorten it is she is a nearly 2 year old in the body of a 1 year old. It is that right there that makes me a bit more sympathetic to her frustrations. Her mind is nearly at the right level, but her body doesn’t do what she wants it to. She has a lot of motor function that is typically ‘instinct’ that instead she has to learn. Over the last few months she has grasped so many things that come so naturally to so many others. One of the most obvious is placing an arm out to the side when she begins to fall. There are a lot of instinctual reflexes that she is missing, but the blessing is she has the determination and desire to learn them.
We had to establish three goals that we felt were important moving forth. We wanted them to be attainable but challenging nonetheless. The first is crawling on her hands and knees with her belly off the ground. She is getting quite close to it. In fact, tonight, Neil caught her up on her hands and knees for a second with no help whatsoever. So, she will get there. We are going to start placing her on her hands and knees and turning on music to get her to sway and hopefully build up her balance and strength. I know with her once she does it once and sees how much easier it is than her army crawl… she won’t look back! LOL!! The second is standing independently. We are not pushing walking. However, gosh… that will be an amazing day! LOL! With the standing we are going to work first on getting her to pull to a kneel. Prompting her with toys placed higher and assistance. Like I said, she has the determination, we just have to give her the opportunity. Finally, communication. The third goal is to get her to nod yes and shake her head for no. Two gestures which do not involve fine motor control and that we all know she is capable of making. We are going to do mirror play, over-exaggerated shaking for a while, and just try to get her to associate them with yes and no. Right now, she has very distinct noises for when she wants something and when she doesn’t. However, the latter… is not a good noise! HA!
Overall, I think the next six months will be our best yet. Neil and I are starting this six months on the same page. We are enjoying her for who she is in this minute and just trying to give her every opportunity we can. My mind is at ease for the first time in a long time and I have a feeling that this next six months is going to be our time to shine as a family. We have a lot to undertake in the way of intervention but I know that if we tackle it together it will be the smoothest ride possible. Really, Alyssa is the “boss” of the situation. She will do everything she is supposed to, when she is supposed to. It sure is going to be fun to get to walk through it with her though 🙂 .