My older son, JI, is going to be four in July. When he was nine months old, I noticed that something was “off”. At first, I thought he was deaf, until he passed a hearing test with flying colors. He never babbled, didn’t do much “talking” of the infant variety at all. He barely responded to voices and people, though he was incredibly alert. So we hooked up with Help Me Grow here in Franklin County, and they ran some tests on my little guy. He was ahead in his motor skills, behind in speech and language. Thus, from the age of one, JI has been in speech therapy continuously.
The first suspicion the specialists and our pediatrician had was Autism. I was very leery to label him, however, because he was so young and because I feel that certain conditions are way over diagnosed in this day and age. It’s a good thing I held out, too, because after a few months of speech therapy JI was making eye contact, using letter sounds, and becoming proficient in ASL for kids. Between speech and occupational therapy, he had outgrown all the symptoms of Autism by age two.
However, at age two, he was still far, far behind in his speech and language, so we enrolled him in a school for special needs kids. He went to school every day, rode the bus, and socialized with other special needs kids as well as typical peers. At the beginning of the school year, JI had about ten spoken words, and by the end of the school year, he had well over one hundred. Columbus City Schools did their evaluation and determined he was no longer “disabled” and invited him to return to that school as a peer. This year’s school year started off with JI in the peer group of his classroom, and it was apparent within weeks that he was absolutely not ready for that. Academically (language/math/etc) and in regards to fine motor, JI is at above average at a kindergarten level. However, his speech is at 15-18 months, his gross motor is behind, and his social-emotional-behavioural level is way below average as well. It took half the school year to have all the necessary screenings and evals done by Columbus City Schools until he was finally qualified as disabled once again. Unfortunately, that meant switching schools.
February of this year was a rough time to start with because I was set to have Squeaks, my newborn, by c-section on the 11th. He arrived early, messing up all our plans. JI attended five whole days of school in the month of February, between the waiting period from school to school, having to stay with my parents out of town when the baby came early, and many, many snow days. Life has been tough the past few months, but I am holding it together as best I can.
Now that he’s been in his new school for almost two months, a new set of issues is coming to the surface. We have an appointment with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in May to once again have JI screened for Autism, as well as ADHD and other behavioural conditions.
I’m not trying to force a diagnosis on him, but it will be comforting and a relief to know that maybe it’s not just Sensory Processing Disorder or bad behaviour, and once we have something official I can get him the exact help he needs.