We had a lot of great one-on-one time and I loved it. I took pictures of her, played with her, read to her, helped her learn her alphabet. If I needed to microwave something, I would pick her up, point her finger and say the numbers as I helped her push the microwave buttons. "3-zero-start"
What we recognized as she started to get older is that her rote skills were very strong. I didn't realize it at the time, but the lack of interaction with other kids was having an impact on the development of Miss M's communication skills. Before she turned two, we noticed that her ability to express herself verbally was below what "the books" said she should be. During a visit to her pediatrician, I asked for his opinion. He told me that it's like a light bulb for some kids - it just turns on and they start spitting out words left and right. But he didn't have any guarantees so he explained that he could give me a referral to the Regional Center when she turned two or I could self refer. In California, there are Regional Centers that are funded by the state to help kids that are behind their peers - physically, mentally, developmentally, whatever. It was broad based and provided the testing needed to make sure Miss M was where she should be.
Well, I decided to self refer since I didn't want to wait until she turned two. As a result, she was tested and it was determined that while most of her skills were age appropriate, her cognitive and receptive communication skills were significantly below her age. We had one person, I believe a psychologist, test her and unofficially (yet inaccurately) diagnose her as autistic. Thankfully, the pathologist that tested her a week later reassured us that she wasn't anywhere near autistic on the scales; she just didn't know how to communicate well.
So we got an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) approved through the Regional Center that included a Mommy & Me program a few days a week supplemented by in-home speech pathologist visits. When she turned three, her IFSP was changed to a school district based IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and she started a speech and language preschool program. When we moved to Iowa, the IEP followed us and it required the local school district to continue the services that were determined necessary by the people in California.
I fought hard for all the services that I thought she needed. I opened my mind to any suggestions they had to help improve her communication skills. I didn't worry about the "special education" stigma that she might carry with her through school. My priority was getting her to where she should be. Period.
Well, during Miss M's parent-teacher conference last week, we were informed that they didn't see a need to continue IEP services. The had evaluated her on several different abilities and said Miss M is caught up with her peers in communication abilities and exceeds many in other skills. On one of the tests, she scored the highest in her class. They recommended we not renew her IEP when it comes due in January. To ensure that it's the right approach, they'll do a 45 day trial of no-services where they will discontinue any special education, speech therapy, etc. If we don't see a lapse, then we know she's good.
So I know that all the proactive therapies, teachers, IFSPs, IEPs, tests, classes and whatnot - all the early intervention work - paid off. It was all worth the effort knowing that by the time Miss M reached Kindergarten, she was caught up with her peers. If I had to do it again, I would take every single step, every headache and every heartache. And if anyone ever asks my opinion on whether they should be proactive with their child, even if they are unsure, I would strongly encourage it. People may say that their child is delayed because of older siblings "talking for them" or isn't walking because they just think it's easier to crawl. Whatever the delay or whatever the reason, just ask your school district or physician if there are services available to have your child tested. You won't regret that you did.