Having a Valentine's Day birthday is proving more difficult than I once thought. I'm having a difficult time getting this post up and I haven't said anything at all about my Valentine, the father of my Valentine baby. ***sigh*** So much to say, so little time...isn't that how the saying goes?
I do want to fill you all in on my little Palmer. He's three today! He's such a big boy. He loves all things sports and doesn't even wear shirts anymore. He only wears Jerseys! He also loves dinosaurs and wants to watch the thirty minutes of Jurassic Park where the dinosaurs totally tear up the whole entire park over and over and over and over...I thought it would terrify him. He just screams with delight, "That dinosaur has boo boos!!!" Scary, huh?
He's potty trained and after ten years of diaper bliss, I am no longer clipping Pampers coupons or trying to figure out which brand gives you more wipes for your money. Yaaay! It ceased to be fun changing diapers after I quit buying the teeny tiny ones with the belly button cut-out so I can say, "Yaaay! No more dirty diapers." Moving on...
All he wanted for his birthday was cake. "Take" he says.
But, for our most exciting news about how God has moved once again on behalf of our little boy, let me begin with last year. Around his second birthday, his teachers at our church's children's day out program became a little concerned because he had basically no words. An extremely limited vocabulary would keep him quiet all day long in his class. At home, there was no need to talk, his siblings would tell everyone what he needed. Hunter was still home all day and helped me anticipate Palmer's every need.
So, I asked the doctor and the doctor kind of said the same thing. Fourth child doesn't need to talk as much. I have another late talker and wasn't concerned yet. He could say names and ask for a few basic things.
When Hunter went to kindergarten this fall and he was the only child at home, I noticed a huge increase in words for Palmer. He talked more and more which was good but I was having a difficult time understanding him. Around mid-October I started to notice when he would try to string words together or use new words. I would get really excited. I realized that his speech was at the level of an eighteen-month-old toddler not an almost three-year-old preschooler. The first of November his teacher at our church's school said she was concerned he was not hearing. She said his speech was nowhere near where the other children's in his class was. There was no doubt he was behind in his development.
I, of course, did what any normal mother would do, panicked. I went through a million scenarios in my mind. Late walker, late talker, big problem. Hearing loss, no talking, can't hear at all. I freaked out because I thought I had totally missed something. The good news was I only freaked out for about an afternoon this time because I remembered what the Lord had showed me about his feet. I totally trusted God with his speech.
I called early childhood intervention. They scheduled an appointment. I called our doctor and scheduled an appointment.
ECI only works with children until their third birthday so we were in a rush to get Palmer's testing underway. The doctor rushed my referral to an ENT and he was able to get in for a hearing test fairly quickly. We found out he had a mild hearing loss due to fluid on his ears. This was surprising to me because he hasn't had many, if any, ear infections. However, I knew that children could have significant amounts of fluid on the ears without the infections. The ENT wanted to immediately take out his tonsils, adenoids and put tubes in his ears. We scheduled it for December 23. Crazy fast and over Christmas break but he needed to recover before his third birthday to test out of ECI and qualify for speech with our school district.
He had surgery, did remarkably well and recovered fast. Our school district was involved by this time and scheduled his testing for the first week the students were back at school in January. He was tested and admitted for speech therapy. He starts Monday. Praise God.
All along, we were working with different agencies. We were being told by some that we would never receive special services from our district. We were told over and over he was borderline and the "free" services were reserved for those with more critical needs.
I believed the whole time that God wanted him at our school in speech. He will go once a week until May for a thirty minute session one-on-one with the speech therapist. In the fall, he will start head start where he will be in school all day with my older children. While this saddens me in some ways, (The baby ***sniff sniff***) It will be so good for our family to be on one schedule, in one place for this one year. The Lord has been telling me all along He has a special plan for Palmer for next year. When his advocate told us he qualified for head start at our school I was excited, relieved and knew deep down that this was it. Let me back up for a minute.
In November, I called another local church who has a preschool program to put Palmer on the waiting list for next year. You see, in the fall we had two days of childcare but my two days of office work at our office was quickly turning into four. We were always scrambling for childcare. We have a wonderful local, drop-in babysitting place where Palmer goes occasionally but like any temporary setting, if it gets used too much the kids get bored. He needed a structured program where he had a schedule and liked to go. The teacher who answered the phone said that the program would change in the fall and they didn't have a waiting list at that time. She asked my child's age and the days I needed. I told her. She had one opening. Palmer's class on the two days we needed. So...he now has a crazy, God-ordained schedule this spring two days at one church and two at another. I knew it would change in the fall. God always gives us more than what we ask for, doesn't He?
This fact-filled post doesn't begin to describe the fears wrestled with in the dark nights over this little boys ears and mouth. It doesn't begin to detail the stress I would go through trying to communicate the extent of our concern to the speech evaluators and therapists. It doesn't begin to document the guilt I felt at not teaching him baby sign language or pursuing speech options earlier. It also doesn't give enough glory to our Father for putting him in the right place where he will get the services he needs against all odds!
We learned that Palmer is on track for 33 months but behind for 36 months. Basically, as his speech gets more complex, he gets pretty impossible to understand resulting in huge frustration for all of us. Praise God He has a plan for our little man! Praise God for His plan to use my baby's hands, feet, ears and mouth for His glory! Praise God we have all we need to fight the battle and we know that God has spoken on his behalf.
Happy Birthday, little guy!!!