Thursday, January 14, 2010

Developmental Testing

Today Harlie had developmental testing done in preparation for her upcoming Eligibility Meeting for her IEP (Individual Education Plan). Here's the process:

Child Study Meeting: The team meets to discuss what areas Harlie needs testing in (speech, developmental, hearing, physical, etc.)

Testing: They have 65 days (I think) to complete the testing.

Eligibility Meeting: The team meets again (including the people who conducted the tests) and goes over the results. They decide whether she is eligible to receive services (speech therapy, physical therapy, etc.).

IEP Meeting: If deemed eligible for services, the team writes her IEP to help get her on course to achieve the goals that we desire for her.

Today was her developmental testing. And her Eligibility Meeting is on January 26th.

We did all this back in the summer, but in light of her hearing impairment diagnosis, it has to be revised.

So, how'd she do today?

Eh, not so great. It is very clear that she is delayed. That is no secret. There was the teacher (who conducted the test) and a sign language interpreter. Even though Harlie knows a lot of signs, she can't have a "conversation" in sign.

For one of the tests they held up a colored item and asked her what color it was. She didn't understand what they wanted from her. She just kept repeating the sign "color." Harlie needs to be shown what you want, not told. So, that makes the testing difficult. She knows her colors. I don't know if they were looking to see if she knows them, or if she can follow simple instructions and commands. After they showed her what they wanted (by signing the color of the item) she signed "red." Then she held up a green item. Harlie signed "blue." For all I know, Harlie could've been thinking "I want the blue one." But I do KNOW that she knows her colors. So, I'm not worried about that. And after being shown again, she got the rest of the colors right (all 2 of them).

Another test was sorting colored wooden squares by color. She just wanted to play with them. So she lined them up in a row. She had her hearing aid in, but still didn't have a clue what they were asking her to do. Again, she had to be shown. Then she did it okay. But, again, I think what they are looking for is understanding of commands and instruction - without prompting. Which really can't be done with her.

She's only had the hearing aid for less than two weeks. And we have no idea how long she's been hearing impaired. It is very clear how her hearing impairment has prohibited her from learning things that we don't usually have to "teach."

For example, the teacher asked me if she asked Harlie "which one flies?" and showed her a picture of a bird and a car, would she get that? I said no way. I don't think she knows what flying is. We've never taught her that. And a normal kid would take it in and know what flying was and that birds do it and cars don't without being taught that specifically. All those little things you say - directly and indirectly - to or around children that they just learn without you even knowing it's happening - hasn't happened with Harlie. And the sign for "car" and "drive" are the same. So how is she supposed to know that you drive a car??? I don't know. Thinking about it now, maybe I'm underestimating her. I guess the teacher could have flapped her arms and then showed her the picture. I guess I'll be doing that tomorrow to see what Harlie does. Ugh!

Another question was if she imitates facial expressions. I don't think she does. But when you sign "mad" you're supposed to have an angry look on your face and she does that. But then I remembered that we've played in the mirror before and she would try to stick out her tongue a little if I did it first. So, I told them about that. Well, I had to get something out of her bag and wasn't paying close attention to what they were doing. Then I realized that they were trying to get her to stick out her tongue by sticking their tongues out at her (all in fun, of course). Well, she can't stick out her tongue with her jaw wired shut! But, they didn't realize that it was wired. It was very funny. Harlie probably thought they were crazy!

Another test she did was a hide the ball test. She took two plastic cups and put one over a tennis ball. Then she rotated the cups and asked Harlie where the ball was. She got the first one right, I think. But, the interpreter was signing "where's the ball?" at the same time the cups were being moved and Harlie had to look up at her instead of watching the cups. I don't know if that matters. Maybe she still should have been able to see what was going on even without looking directly at the cups. At any rate, after she got it wrong, on the next try she just picked both cups up at the same time.

I have to wonder what goes through her mind sometimes. I hope that most of the time she's thinking these "games" are stupid, have no point and aren't that fun. She would probably rather just line the pieces up in a row and stack them however she pleases.

After the testing was done, the teacher told me that she was going to score the tests and put it all together and mail the results to me. She told me to try to not get upset if the score is really low. We know it's going to be. But because of all the language/communication difficulties, it isn't a true picture of what she really knows. I'm paraphrasing, of course. But I think that was the gist of what she was saying. And I guess it's fine if the score is low. That will help her get the services she needs to be able to understand what is being asked of her in the future.

Regardless of all that, it is still REALLY hard to watch your child not understand what is being asked of her. I know she's smart (and so I'm told by professionals and I hope they aren't lying to me). She just needs to use alternative methods to figure out what you want from her. And even if she figures it out - that doesn't mean that she will want to do it! And she is super stubborn. And she prefers to do everything HER way. Period.

Even after I say all that to myself - it is still REALLY hard to see how behind she is. How much she doesn't know. How far she's got to go to get where she belongs. She needs so much help. And that is very overwhelming for me. I'm no educator. I just hope that we've given her the right tools - a hearing aid, communication device, and therapies - so the education can now happen and be effective. Hopefully, on the 26th, they'll be able to tell me what educational piece they recommend.



Janis said...

Sorry the day was a bust. It is very frustrating when the kids don't "perform" for things you know they can do @ home for you. UGH! I hope the actual IEP goes smoothly.

Susan said...

Christy, I know you know this, but look at all she's been through. The amount of time she has spent just recovering. And to do as well as she is despite all that and the undetected hearing loss.....well, you know this isn't a fair assessment. But the point is to qualify her for services so the lower the better. Just hang on to the fact that Harlie is amazing and the results of this assessment in no way show what she is capable of. I've never met Harlie in person and I KNOW this. I know it's hard. Hang in there.

Grandma said...

Christy, maybe Harlie is smart enough to know that she needs certain education to function in society and is just doing what she can to get that education. We all know Harlie is enough that she has fooled professionals for 3 years about her hearing so lets just take this one day at a time...get the services she needs...start her education and I guarantee that both the educators and us will again see how smart Harlie truly is!!! Yes, Harlie is a stubborn little girl but that stuborness is what has kept her alive and with us for the past 3 years so instead of looking at that negatively...think positive...that stuborness will enable her to excell at what ever SHE puts her mind to. Good luck and just keep on showering this child with all your love cause bottom line..Love will get her thru anything.

Sarah said...
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Kim said...

So what if she failed a few tests. We all know Harlie has special needs.

That said, she CAN do so much more than those stupid tests can tell. Observing her in preschool I saw her learn how to line up with the other children, gain independence, do work that other 3 year olds do. Communication is definitely an issue, but that girl is smart. There is no question there. And no understatement either. She has 100 times the barriers we do to learning, yet she could still absorb her surroundings and learn through watching others.

Whatever the tests say, Harlie is smart, and she will continue to blossom and grow with her education.

Hang in there. I would not deal with days like this one well - I'd want to show off how smart she is and wouldn't take the "don't be afraid of low scores" comment well at all. A score is a number, nothing more. She can love, she can communicate (even if it's limited and only in her own way) and most importantly she can interact with others.

Not that any of that is comfort for you, as you know all of it already. But I'm just trying to remind you that Harlie is absolutely remarkable - her progress is incredible - given the limitations she has faced physically, during "down times" post-surgeries, etc. She's a rock star, even if she can't tell the testers that. Next time take her sunglasses so that she remembers what a badass she is and perhaps cooperates a bit more. Or less. I guess rock stars don't really cooperate...

B-Mama said...

I can't imagine the frustration you feel after this meeting! What I'm hoping, though, is that by starting off with a bust, Harlie is setting herself up to have HUGE improvements in time. Wouldn't it be better that way?! Just think of how much she'll gain even in 6 mos!

You can now develop a program and a game plan for helping her to learn with a hearing impairment. You had no idea of that need before, so I would venture to say Harlie's learning is going to go through the roof from here on out. Then she can really show off her smarts because she'll have a program that really fits!