Yesterday, Elise had her six month assessment in her outside-of-the-school Speech Therapy. I always dread assessments these days. I mean, I don't care as much as I used to. It used to make me sick how far behind her peers she was. The gap just kept yawning. But I like to see improvements, and those have been snail slow and miniscule. My only comfort has been that we were still moving forward.
But Yesterday, People!!
Elise has improved in Auditory Comprehension by 5 months in the last 6. I don't think we've had an improvement this big EVER. I mean, do the math for pity sake. Elise is 11 years 10 months, and as you can see on the paper, she stands in the 2-3 year range.
In case you haven't read a million of these assessment papers like me, in Auditory Comprehension, she moved from 3 years/6months to 3 years/11 months. Practically bang on the money!! This means that she is improving in what she understands when she is told something.
She only progressed from 2 years/8 months to 2 years/10 months in expressive speech, but it was still movement. Also, her speech therapist confided that most of the cut offs were BARELY missed. You progress by blocks of 3 questions, and if you miss the 3rd question, even if you get 2 correct, you don't move up to the next level. So, Kathleen told me that there were several blocks that she missed by one, only, so her progression may be impressive next time, too.
I've been pleasantly encouraged that Elise has been improving in her speech and enunciations. I hear the change, and far more importantly, I see others understand her much better. And here we have legal proof, that her verbal prowess is not all in my head!! And it means if it's there in her comprehension, it's all up in her head, which means it will eventually make it out in Expressive Communication....someday.
I have asked several of my friends with older kids with Down Syndrome about their speech progression. They have encouraged me a thousand million times over the years. There are many kids with DS that progress with their peers, with a few enunciation issues. There are some that start slow, but catch on quickly as therapy and peers move in their lives. There are some that take their sweet time and really come into their speech in middle school and high school. It appears that Elise has decided to follow that last path. But that peace for me is that there is still significant hope that she will continue to really grow before adulthood...and she won't be like previous generations where they stagnate due to lack of involvement in their world. Elise would never stand for that anyway. Being low in speech has never discouraged her from chatting up people out in public.
I have to take this moment to say that online social media has been the best thing in the world for the special needs parents. You have more access to information and to veteran parents than ever before.
Recently, I have even gotten some information concerning Elise's fine and gross motor plateau. I am girding myself with information in preparation for entrance into middle school. And I'm starting to look forward to outside OT and PT for her particular support.
When Charlotte (my youngest) took her sweet time to potty train, I had several mamas giggle and say, "Well, I've never seen anyone in Kindergarten in diapers." And I was encouraged. When I have a conversation with a veteran mama of a young adult with Down Syndrome, and she keyboard giggles and says, "All the adults with Down Syndrome I know, can button their pants and tie their shoes and talk to friends." Well, frankly, it has the same heartening effect.
And so, we Keep Moving Forward.