Lil D's Doctor Visits and Speech Therapy

Since about the time that lil D turned 20 months old we started having concerns about his lack of language development.. he said a few things but his vocabulary was not flourishing the way it should. We also noticed that he sometimes would stare off into space and we would not be able to get his attention... Around this time in the news the A word (Autism) was every where and the alarming numbers with how much more common it was in little boys was scary.. At his point we were scared out of our minds that it was a possibility. We brought all of our concerns up to our pediatrician. She referred him to a child neurologist and suggested we take him to speech therapy. She felt most concerned about the starring spells and knew that this the road we should travel to get answers.

A few months later we finally got him into a pediatric neurologist. We had a meet and greet and she dismissed our Autism concerns (at this point it had been a few months, we were less concerned about it and just more concerned as to why he didn't say much)  She said he plays perfectly well for his age (woody and buzz came with us :)). She wanted a blood sample and we would go from there.

The next day Dallas took Lil D to get his blood withdrawn and they informed him that he needed a urine sample as well.. how the heck do you get a two year old to pee on command....not gonna happen. Instead they placed a plastic bag thing around the area and we had to monitor him to get it taken off and poured into sample cup and bring it back to them.. fun stuff let me tell ya. Good job daddy for being in charge of that,

The pediatrician recommended a hearing test so we got an appointment set up for that. She also called and had us a schedule an EEG and she also recommended speech therapy. We tried to get an appointment set up multiple times but if the place accepted our insurance they didn't have openings for a few months or if they had an opening they didn't accept our insurance.. talk about frustrating.

The audiologist was located at the Phoenix Children's Hospital. Dr. Fanning was really good with Lil D. Super patient for dealing with a cranky two year old.

The first test performed was in a sound booth where different noises would play in different parts of the room when Dallas looked the correct direction there was a visual light display telling him he got it right. After that, which he totally passed, the Doctor said he wanted to put an ear bud in to monitor his ears.. this proved to be difficult for a toddler.. however.. the doctor only needed a couple of minutes per ear the catch was Lil D couldn't cry during the monitoring.. iPhone to the rescue! I had recently downloaded a bunch of apps to the iPad for the boys and Dallas had auto upload to his phone so we kept his attention with the I hear Ewe app... it plays animal sounds :)

Once we got through with that the last bit Dr. Fanning needed was a drawing of his ear.. this just required him to be held crying was permitted :(

We've gotten the results and the doctor told us at the end of the appointment that his hearing was totally fine and no further hearing testing was needed.  He did recommend speech therapy.. are you sensing a theme?
A week later lil D had his EEG. This was at Thunderbird hospital as an inpatient procedure. We had to prep him by making sure he was tired. The appointment was at 3 so we just didn't let him nap that day. We got to the hospital and had to wait a bit.. it's difficult to keep a toddler happy in a hospital.. he wanted to ride the elevators.. but he wasn't allowed to... instead mom pulled out the reserves.. lots of random toys and some snacks.
When we got to the room for the testing.. the very nice lady had his dad hold him on his lap and keep him from moving his arms.. while she connected a ton of wires... He fought and screamed and fought some more... the poor kid exhausted himself and once all the wires were on the lights got dimmed, he fell asleep.. which was what we were going for! They had to keep him hooked up for 30 mins. once done we were free to go home.
At Griffin's 1 year check up Dr. B (our pediatrician) told Dallas that Lil D's EEG came back another thing to check off the list.

Next up.... Speech therapy. We finally were able to get an appointment in the books.

The speech therapy place that would take us was located across town so we left Griffin with his grandparents and we took Lil D on an adventure. We got down there and the parking situation was ridiculous and the waiting room was crowded. Lil D enjoyed playing with the toys and didn't want to leave them when we were called back. We were taken to a small room filled with even more toys and Dallas, of course, wanted to dump out all of the containers. The speech therapist went through a whole bunch of questions about his skills, likes, dislikes, habits, etc. And she interacted with Dallas trying to get a feel for what was going on. By the end of the appointment once she tallied her worksheets she confirmed that there was a mild delay however at this time she believed he was on the line of needing services. Being that he was on that line she left the decision up to us. We wanted to get him into the program but insurance would not cover speech therapy and waiting for a therapist opening could take weeks/months.. We had the pediatric neurologist and our pediatrician write letters saying that speech therapy was very much needed but our insurance company stood it's ground and said the only way speech therapy would be covered would be if there was a diagnosis or possible future diagnosis of Autism. Both doctors said that they would not feel comfortable putting that label anywhere near Dallas (which, we are very, very thankful for) All this meant is we needed to go another route.

We ended up getting in contact with the state ran early intervention program. This program is great. They come to you, there's more questions and evaluations and forms to fill out and if your child is brought into the program the therapist comes to your home to work with them and it's at a discounted rate based on your income. However, this ends once the child turns three. Once we got through all the evals and such we were only a couple of months shy of Lil D's third birthday. However, the program still wanted to accept him and get him therapy in that time frame so we were assigned a nice guy name Clint who has been able to fit him in about 5 times in those eight weeks. Lil D has really taken a liking to Clint and although he's only had a handful of appointments and he is nowhere near where he should be we have seen some improvement. He seems to finally get the concept of saying stuff to cause a reaction and he'll now frequently come to us, grab our hand and say eat, eat. Or bring us his cup and say more. He also seems to be willing to attempt to imitate us when we ask him to say a word which he would hardly ever do before.

The early intervention program also has helped us transition into an early intervention preschool. To get him into this program we had to meet, fill out forms and had Lil D evaluated. Lil D's evaluation has shown that he has a severe speech delay and because of that he seems to have a  cognitive delay as well. They also noted that he does not participate in adult led activities very well either. The speech therapist and child psychologist who evaluated him wrote up his goals for the year and also outlined some of the things that need to be done in the classroom to assist him, such as getting to hold his own copy of the book during story time. He starts school in just a couple of days and he will go for about five weeks until summer vacation and then will start back up in fall. He'll get to go for two years and then will get reevaluated before heading to kindergarten. We're hoping that this class will bring him up to speed and that he'll be able to attend regular kindergarten which the evaluators anticipate.

You better believe I'll be taking lots of pictures of this boys first day of school. Can't believe my baby is gonna be THREE!

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