The definition of transition: movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

It doesn’t matter if you are a child or an adult, transition is hard for everyone. Especially for those who are extra sensitive to change. Most special needs families are well aware when your child turns 3 years old a huge transition occurs.

For example, your child can receive early intervention (which is state funded) from birth to 3 years old. Soon as your child turns 3 years old the world opens up to many opportunities and tough decisions. Do you want to have your child evaluated by the school district to see if they qualify for special education or go the private therapy route (if you have the money)? As parents, we want what’s best for our children to provide the best services we can to help them succeed and grow.

We are at this road crossing with Melanie. Yes, we have been through it before with Michaela but it doesn’t get any easier.

Melanie turns 3 years old on October 9th! I can’t believe it!!

Jill, Melanie's developmental therapist

Jill, Melanie’s developmental therapist

Melanie started First Steps (early intervention) when she was 14 months old. Each state has an early intervention program, the names might be different but it is the same type of services. I knew what to expect when we started the process in getting Melanie evaluated to see what kind of therapy she would qualify for in First Steps. We started out with speech and occupational therapy. A couple months later we added on developmental therapy. For about 22 months, we had 3 therapist coming to our house each week for one hour to help Melanie with communication, eating issues, social development, and sensory issues.

The past several months Melanie’s therapist and I have realized she will soon be 3 years old and our time together will be coming to an end. We have developed a very close relationship with our therapist which focused on helping our family to understand Melanie’s needs. Since Melanie is completely opposite from Michaela when it comes to the sensory system. I have learned a lot from each of our therapist. We have been talking about how Melanie has grown and changed developmentally since she was 14 months old.

Franie, Melanie’s speech therapist

Here are some changes we have noticed since Melanie started First Steps:

  • Communication: Our speech therapist has worked really hard with Melanie in teaching her how to communicate with sign language and words. When Melanie was 14 months old, she only had a few words and was babbling most of the time. Today, Melanie has a lot more words, plus she knows several important signs to express her needs and wants. Melanie still doesn’t spontaneously use some words but every once in a while you will hear some phrases and words like “hi there,” “red,” “bus”, and believe it or not she can count up to 13!!
  • Eating issues: When Melanie was 14 months old we thought we had it made. Melanie would eat anything we put in front of her. Come to find out she was not chewing her food just swallowing it whole. Then she was over stuffing her mouth to the point of choking at times. We found out through therapy that Melanie is under sensitive with her mouth. She can’t feel the foods going into her mouth especially breads and crackers. So we had to teach Melanie how to chew her food and not to over stuff her mouth. Along with providing foods with more of a spices and taste to wake up Melanie’s taste buds. Today, we still are working on over stuffing food but I will say Melanie has improved with time. Plus, she can now eat with a spoon and drink from a cup. We ending up getting a nutritionist this year to help us figure out ways to help Melanie try new foods.
  • Social Development: We have seen a lot of social improvement since Melanie started receiving developmental therapy. When Melanie was little, she would not let anyone touch her unless she wanted it. Melanie also liked playing on her own and really wasn’t aware of others around her. Now, Melanie will give us hugs, kisses with lips puckered, and snuggle! She also is becoming more aware of her surroundings and is seeking out others to play with. Melanie still has a hard time with transitions during our daily routine and will not do something unless it’s her way. Melanie also has been appropriately doing pretend play for the past several months!
  • Jenny, Melanie’s occupational therapist

    Sensory issues: Melanie’s occupational therapist worked really hard in helping us understand the different type of sensory needs and input needed for Melanie (also with Michaela.) We found out Melanie is hypo-sensitive. She can not feel certain foods, hot or cold items with no safety awareness what so ever. Melanie really likes sensory boxes to feel all the different types of textures in the box. Last fall, we found out that Melanie’s safety awareness was non existent. We went to a fall festival, Melanie was drawn towards the bonfire and literally tried to jump into the fire pit to feel the flames. Also Melanie has a very high pain tolerance. One of the most important information I learned was each child sensory needs and profile changes constantly. Today, Melanie is starting to recognize what type of sensory input she needs. It’s amazing to see how much has changed since Melanie start early intervention. Melanie really like to have blankets wrapped really tight around her.

The past several months we have been in the process of getting Melanie evaluated to see what services she will qualify for with the school district. Last December, we did take Melanie to see a developmental pediatrician to have her formally diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, however the school district will do their own evaluation to figure out her educational needs to be successful in a classroom.

It was determined last month that Melanie qualify for special education services through the school district and she now has an IEP (individualized educational plan.) Melanie will be going to developmental preschool 3 half days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday.) She will receive speech and occupational therapy one on one. Melanie will be going to the same developmental preschool that Michaela did which is in the same school Michaela is going to for 1st grade. Melanie did start developmental preschool this week on Monday and Wednesday (she didn’t have preschool on Friday because of parent/teacher conferences.) She also started riding the special needs school bus. After talking with Melanie’s preschool teacher I found out she had a really good first week. Melanie did have a couple of meltdowns but overall she had a good start. Plus, she did really well riding the bus! WOOHOO!!! 🙂

I can not STRESS enough the importance of early intervention. PLEASE, if you notice any signs with your child having developmental or speech issue contact your local early intervention service. Like I mentioned before each state has their own type of early intervention. The first evaluation is FREE to asses your child to see if they qualify for services. It doesn’t mean your child will be given a diagnosis or labeled in any way. These services are to help your child catch up and to stay developmentally on track.

DO NOT I will repeat DO NOT,  let ANYONE (friends, family, pediatricians, strangers in the store or off the streets) tell you to wait and see if your child will grow out of it. Or let them say,”he is just a boy they are always a little behind.” You are your child advocate! I beg of you to follow your instincts, swallow your pride and call early intervention. Each week you are miss out on possible therapy then the longer it will take to get your child the crucial help they need to grow and be successful!

Early intervention is key to helping children with autism and special needs!!!

 

Many thanks to our wonderful First Steps therapist, nutritionist, service coordinator, and evaluation team. We really appreciate all you have done for our precious little girl! Plus, helping us understand Melanie more so we will be able to guide her through the journey!