Tiny hand

Tiny hand
November 20, 2010 (one day old)

Lilypie Premature Baby tickers

Lilypie Premature Baby tickers

Monday, November 18, 2013

School Daze

My intention was to post another update a couple weeks ago while Jason was home (and well before Cayden's third birthday, which is in two days), but we packed so much into those two weeks Jason was home and I just never had a chance to sit at the computer and type!

In my last post, I mentioned that we had Cayden evaluated for physical therapy again.  Our Developmental Pathways coordinator, Alex, and the therapist who joined her for the evaluation both agreed he'd benefit from PT services, so we were re-approved for two visits a month.  The therapist turned out not to be very reliable - she cancelled, had to reschedule, or walked out in the middle of five out of the seven visits we were supposed to have, and I think we only ended up actually seeing her three times.  And during those visits, I don't think we accomplished much - she wanted to meet at the park for our visits, and all Cayden really did was swing on the swings, slide on the slide, and ride on the teeter-totter, all things I could have done without her.  Her observations and advice were inconsistent and pretty much useless, so that whole experience was a disappointment.

However, we've had a better experience with the occupational therapist he saw three times in the past month.  Here's how that came about:  The Early Intervention services provided by Developmental Pathways are only offered until a child turns 3.  As their third birthday approaches, the child has a "transition evaluation", where they are evaluated by a team of professionals through the child's school district to determine if the child needs ongoing services. 

In early October, I took Cayden for his transition evaluation, where he was assessed by a special education teacher, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist, all from the Cherry Creek School District, during a play-based evaluation.  Alex, was there as well.  I had mentioned my concerns about his clumsiness and his inability to self-regulate, and they kept this in mind while they observed and interacted with him for an hour.  It didn't take them long to agree that he would absolutely benefit from ongoing services through the school district.  Apparently, all of these behaviors that have been confounding us and really trying our patience - the bouncing nonstop from one topic to another, the constant chattering and nonstop talking, the clumsiness, the not listening and not following directions, the hypersensitivity to criticism or discipline, the stuffing his mouth when he eats, the hyperactivity in general - they are all signs of sensory processing disorder.  Although the school district doesn't give a medical diagnosis, their observations convinced them that he qualifies for pre-school services through Cherry Creek School District, and they highly encouraged Alex to put in a request to restart occupational therapy sessions through Developmental Pathways up until Cayden started school.

Apparently, these "sensory issues" are very common in preemies and usually start manifesting after their second birthday and can greatly benefit from occupational therapy.  Cayden was discharged from OT just before his second birthday because at that time, he was meeting all his milestones.  If we had kept OT going, they would have noticed the emerging sensory behaviors and maybe we could have gotten a better jump on reigning Cayden in, but I'm glad it's been recognized now and that we're getting the services we need.

So after the transition evaluation, we were able to squeeze in three home visits with an occupational therapist and I am so grateful!  Within 15 minutes of meeting Cayden, the therapist said, "Oh, yeah.  He's a classic sensory kid!"  She's given us all kinds of tips and exercises and things to do to help manage Cayden's behavior and get him on the path to self-regulation.  In people with sensory processing disorder, sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses.  They can have issues with any or all of the senses - sight, hearing, taste, touch, movement - and they can be over-responsive or under-responsive.  Cayden is an under-responder.  A quote from the Sensory Processing Diorder Foundation's website sums him up perfectly:  "Children (with under-responsive SPD) exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive."  There is way too much to go into detail about in this blog, but if you're interested, check out the SPD Foundation's website here.

As a result of the transition evaluation, we had Cayden's IEP meeting the first week in November and they suggested we start him in pre-school just before his third birthday.  It all came about so fast and honestly, I wasn't quite ready to let him go!  We barely had two months of Mommy and Cayden time during the mornings Jamison was in pre-school, and I didn't feel like we got to really take advantage of that time together.  But the bottom line is that Cayden was SO ready to go to pre-school and the sooner we continued on with services through the school, the better off he would be.  Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to start him at Aspen Crossing Elementary last Thursday, November 14th.  He's at the same school as Jamison, but there are two different pre-school classes, and they're each in a different class with different teachers but they share the same specialists.  Cayden will be getting occupational therapy while he's there, as well as working with a special education teacher and speech therapist.  (Side note:  during the transition evaluation, everyone was blown away by Cayden's advanced, articulate, thoughtful speech, so there aren't really any concerns on that end, it's more the receptive speech skills - or paying attention, focusing, listening, and following directions - where he needs help!)

Sure enough, Cayden's first day of school saw him running through the door, leaving me holding his backpack and jacket, waiting for a hug or a kiss or at least a "Goodbye, Mommy!", but I got nothing of the sort.  He ran straight to a table full of other kids, sat down, and started coloring.  I had to yell his name several times before he finally looked up so I could take his picture on his first day of school:

I'll be fine, Mommy - I love it here!

With his backpack on, SO excited for his first day!

Go Marmots!!

Well, I had intended to catch up on all of the other fun stuff we've done over the past couple of months, but it looks like this post ended up being long enough just talking about the transition evaluation/OT/PT/SPD stuff.  I guess I'll end this for now and hopefully post again soon with pictures and details about all of our other adventures in September, October, and November!

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