No parent wants to hear that there is something "wrong" with their child. No one wants to think that anything about that precious gift could be amiss in any way. You find yourself looking at them, wondering how you could have "missed" it. Since it's been so terribly off for such a long time, apparently.
Today I received a call to set up our first meeting with the teacher, OT & Speech Pathologist, and principal. We'll be discussing what test results have been gathered and what these results show for the girls. My job during this meeting will be to sit and listen, and try very hard not to take what they're saying as anything other than helpful advice to get the girls on track for success in school. Currently, my brain is torn between being grateful for early detection, and wondering how much of their "issues" stem from being in school for only 2 short weeks and still being unsure about it.
I wasn't surprised when they told me the girls would need to be evaluated for fine motor skills. They made it clear at a very early age that they do not like doing anything that involves those skills. They always hated coloring. Painting. Drawing. Playing board games. All of it. I realized that this would be a problem, so I began using every trick in my teacher's brain to get them interested. To make it fun. Shaving cream. Pudding Paint! Water works. Chalkboards. Dry erase boards. PlayDoh. All of it. And none of it established any sort of real interest. Everyday I declared a "Mommy's Choice" activity time, in hopes of getting them to focus and practice at the same time. My choices were usually worksheets, or cutting and gluing activities. The girls would respond by crying. "Mommy, I don't want to color!" or "It hurts my hand!". We pushed through the tears, and I think we made a lot of progress. Both girls were writing their names by this past May (something they'd never been able to do), and even began writing words and drawing a lot more on the chalkboards without being asked to. But pencil/paper work still makes them struggle.
I'm glad for the extra help they'll be getting with this, and hoping their OT will have better luck getting them to strengthen their hand muscles and make writing easier.
The speech therapy came out of the blue for me. I didn't know there was any concern until their teacher asked if I'd spoken to the Speech Pathologist yet. I wasn't sure what the issue could be, and was hoping it wasn't some aspect of their speech that is a holdover from their years of speaking Twinese. (I'm very protective of their twin language. They don't speak it much anymore, but vestiges of it still remain, and I'd like to keep it that way for as long as possible. Call me crazy. But that's just the way it is.)The issue, it would seem, lies in their reluctance to make eye contact or have a conversation. At home, they do both and they do it well. Ashlyn in particular has become quite the chatter-bug, talking up a storm and constantly looking at us to make sure she's got our full attention. Caedance, our quiet "Observer" has even gotten more talkative. Both have shown a lot of improvement since they've started school. But that's at home. I do know that they are not likely to speak with someone they don't know, even in the "safety zone" of school. I know that they are very used to having strangers come up to them, but are reluctant to speak to them, let alone hold a conversation. A big part of me doesn't see this as a particularly fair assessment of their abilities. I mean, I'm really glad the school is getting on the ball and picking out needs to get the kids up to speed, but in the first few weeks of school, isn't it a bit normal for a student (in a very new environment) to need a little time to sort out her surroundings and work out her place in it? It makes me sad that the expectations of Kindergarten have changed so much that children must be quickly guided into the proper channels rather than giving them any sort of time to independently sort through things on their own. This is the new system though.
So our meeting will be set up and a plan will be created. The fact that the girls need some extra help doesn't bother me. Not at all. I guess my only "issue" is the timing. Seeing so much improvement on our side gives me a feeling that they are heading in the right direction. But I don't want them to struggle. They are both smart and able. And can be quick learners when the mood strikes them. I want them to succeed, so I guess this will be the first step towards that.