The twins were given screenings for early intervention at their preschool last week. Once again, Ryan was flagged for further testing. This is almost exactly a year after the last time he was flagged for possibly needing services. In New York State it is very hard to qualify for services under the age of two. I thought for sure Ry would qualify last time, because he was fifteen months old and he literally had no sounds. No babbling, no mumumum, dadada. Nothing, nada, zilch. The evaluator came and did her thing, and we came to find out that receiving speech therapy actually has less to do with not speaking and a whole lot to do with social and cognitive skills.
In his full report he was evaluated on problem solving, personal-social skills, gross development, fine motor development and communication. Ry's ability to place objects into containers, scribble on paper, dump objects out of a box and play with puzzles put him on par with his peers in terms of problem solving and cognitive development.
Fast forward a year, and I now have an (almost) 28 month old who does not have the ability to string words together and who does not speak clearly enough for others to understand him. Even Joe and I have difficulty deciphering Ryan-speak, at times. He is a very intuitive, compassionate and smart little boy. But his enunciation and clarity of speech are majorly lacking. And his overall verbal development is behind.
As a twin parent you know you aren't supposed to compare your kids. But his sister is way ahead of the curve with language, and it only serves as a mechanism to underscore how behind he is with speech. To add insult to injury, I have started to see this create social issues between the two of them. For example, people will say "Why does Ryan need to talk? Reese does all the talking for him?" or "Of course Ryan doesn't talk, his sister doesn't let him get a word in edgewise."
Friends and family will try to work with Ryan or talk to him ("what does a cow say?" "what is this a picture of?") and Reese will shout the answer from across the room. Then she is shut down with things like "not you, your brother". Of course she is going to shout the answer because she is a proud and precocious two year old. (Doesn't that describe ALL two year olds?)
Balancing the two of them, and making sure each gets their needs met, while also supporting their development -- both social and intellectual -- has been a delicate issue. I know it is not one that is limited to me as a multiples mother.
We had our prescreening meeting with our family's County representative yesterday and we weren't given a lot of hope in terms of Ryan meeting the requirements to receive services. Apparently, at age two, they do not evaluate receptive and expressive language separately from one another. Because he has more than 50 words (wherein animal noises count) and he can follow directions, he may just be "overqualified". Even though he cannot communicate himself and this creates atypical social behavior (frustrated hitting of himself, walls, tables, and other inanimate objects).
Our actual screening is on Monday. He will be evaluated by a psychologist and speech therapist. I am hoping beyond hope that he qualifies for EI, I'd love to see him make strides this summer and really come into his own. If he doesn't qualify for our County program, we will be going through a private agency to get him support. I am only sorry I didn't advocate for him and go the private route sooner. I honestly thought that... boys develop slower, he was still young, his sister was just advanced, etc.
At any rate, he'll get the help and support he needs now. I can't wait to hear him talking up a storm. Although I will say, I'll miss the Ryan speak. There is something uniquely endearing about the way he creates words. And while it is hard for others to understand him, I love that I do.