In November, little M was tested by our county’s infants and toddlers program to see if she qualified for services. She did. Very much so.
To be fair when testing her language development, they brought in a translator, so that he could try to converse with her, see if she could talk to him in Chinese, and see what age level she tested at.
She was unable to understand, or communicate with the translator. She had more English words than Chinese words at the time, and at that point in time, she maybe knew ten to fifteen English words.
We had meetings, talked with therapists, and developed an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) for little M. She was to receive speech therapy one to two times a week, see a special educator once a week, and we put her in a preschool class once a week, led by speech and occupational therapists. All of this helped, to a degree.
Most infants and toddlers programs in our area are available until a child turns three and ages out of the program and into a school/preschool setting.
So we had more meetings, and more evaluations, and conferences with our local school board. And it was decided: little M was still in need of therapies, and would continue them throughout the summer, when she would be re-evaluated.
This is the struggle: little M is SO far behind, and is not catching up at a pace that will bring her up to her age level in the foreseeable future. Most likely because she is not hearing correctly, and it is crazy to hope that she would be able to learn what language is, learn a new language, and catch up to a three year old level quickly.
Because she can’t hear us correctly.
Little M has about 150 words under her belt, but you would likely only understand maybe a third of what she is saying, because she can’t hear the sounds properly, she can’t repeat them properly.
When I see other three year olds, or even two years olds talking away, sharing thoughts, processing things, trying to understand, and asking questions, my heart just breaks for little M. I know she must have those same thoughts, and probably has a hundred questions, but she can’t ask them. She must be processing so much right now, but she can’t tell me any of it.
Right now, language-wise, she is at an eighteen month level, but cognitively she is at a twenty-six month level, which means she understands things the same, on average, as someone who is almost two and a half years old. But she can only communicate as well as someone who is eighteen months old. How frustrating for her! And for us! I am dying to be able to communicate with my child.
When little M first came home, I babied her a lot. A LOT people. I felt that she didn’t have a mommy and daddy for two years, and she deserved to feel like a cherished, pampered baby for a bit. We rocked her, gave her a bottle at night, we spoon fed her, and I carried her all. the. time. I did things for her that she was able to do herself, and maybe she should have been doing herself. Other times, we pushed her to try harder, to learn so many new things. We expected so much from such a little person. So much mommy guilt!
It has taken me months to accept little M’s delays, and to stop expecting her to do three year old things, and be a “typical” three year old. I am learning to accept that developmentally, our little M is 18-30 months old, and work from there. I am learning not to worry that she is not “normal,” and some days I am still working on it.
We are getting her hearing situation worked out, which may include tubes, and possible hearing aides. Hopefully, being able to hear will help little M to begin understanding and speaking more clearly, and get her out of this limbo she has been in.
Please don’t misunderstand my rantings. If little M is never able to talk, that will not change my love and acceptance of her. It is the unknown and not knowing what to expect, that has me messed up. I wonder what I am supposed to be doing, and how to help her. I wonder what God has planned for her and for us.
Fortunately for me, God knew what he was doing when he placed little M into our family. Because no matter how unknown her future is, or how many delays she might have, I can no longer imagine our lives without this little girl in it. And I know that I will do anything in my power to help her get ahead. I know that I have to have faith that God knows her future and the plans he has for her, and I continue to do everything I can to help her succeed.