Monday, December 11, 2006

How *Should* I Feel?

When other moms post about developmental concerns for their children, many of them often seem to be very worried. We all worry to some degree if our children have delays or other developmental concerns, but that's really quite normal and it's something I've always taken in stride because I enjoy researching and following up and I try to be very proactive if it appears there might be a problem. For instance, Anneliese and her intoeing. I made sure to get her to a pediatric orthopaedic specialist and found out exactly whey she appears to be pigeon-toed and whether we can fix it or not, etc. I was worried enough that I felt some relief when we discovered she's normal and that we don't have "much" to do to help her correct the problem in her legs.

Now, my girls have always been advanced with speech. Juliana is very clearly advanced with her speech development as well as her language skills, reading skills, etc. She's very, very language oriented as anyone who has had a conversation with her will tell you. Anneliese is following very closely in Juliana's verbal footsteps, although she's a bit more shy than Juliana.

Grace, however... she's always been more shy than either of her sisters. Her speech started out as being just as advanced as Juliana's, but then when we moved, took away her pacifier, moved her out of her crib into a toddler bed before she was ready, and then a new sibling was born all in the same year, she started to regress. She became anxious and is known as "The One Who Cries" in the IL side of the family. She's very sensitive and always has been, but even now that she's turned 4 yrs old, she'll cry at the drop of a hat. We've been working on this with her with some progress, but we've also noticed and worried that her speech has regressed.

I know it's not good to compare children to each other, but her speech really isn't as good as her cousin Carina's, who's only 7 weeks older. Carina speaks at least as well as Juliana did at the same age (4 yrs old) so I somewhat expect Grace to be only slightly below her. Even still, the difference is amazing and I often think that she's further behind socially and speech-wise than I think. We always say "She's just going at her own pace" and "that's just how Gracie is" but I'm starting to wonder. She seems to relate better to Anneliese than to Juliana, and in more than a personality way. In a language and social way. I do know that since putting her in preschool, her speech and social skills have improved, and she obeys better than she did. I also know that she understands more than she lets on. When I try to talk to her, it's hard to tell if she's even listening to me, let alone understanding what I'm saying. Very often, I don't have proof that she's understood or listened until a couple weeks have passed and she shows me or tells me exactly what I had tried to teach her a couple of weeks prior.

She doesn't talk a lot. Her face is expressive, but sometimes she really does know how to stonewall and you can't tell what she's thinking or feeling until she cries or giggles. She has a great sense of humor that she doesn't show off as often as she should, and it's a very smart sense of humor... but being so reserved it's hard to guage anything with her.

So my biggest concern would be her social and verbal skills. I fell in my heart that she's regressed and is now stuck, almost like she's trying to stay a toddler rather than become a well-spoken pre-schooler. I've seen improvements in her drawings and her reasoning skills when she decides to show off, and I've seen improvements in her listening skills and following directions skills, but again, only when she decides to show off. It's frustrating... because I don't know how worried I should be.

This morning, probably about an hour ago, I called and left a message with the director for the preschool and kindergarten programs at the Early Learning Childhood Center. The director happens to be a children's social worker, who helped play a role in helping us with Juliana last year when we were trying to get her kindergarten issues worked out and figuring out Juli's ODD tendencies. I'm really hoping they can evaluate Grace NOW so that we can decide soon if we should keep her in preschool or send her to Kindergarten next year, or even if she qualifies for intervention. If she qualifies for intervention, that would actually help us out financially since we'd have to pay for another year of preschool if we keep her back on our own. If she qualifies for intervention, then the town picks up the tab and she'd move from the preschool she's in to the Early Learning Childhood Center. We'd know that she's got teachers working with her geared towards helping us correct whatever she may be delayed with.

So, keep Gracie in your thoughts and prayers. I know she's a normal child, I know she's VERY smart, but my instincts tell me that my little Frou Frou needs some help expressing herself.

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