Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Home Study Update!

I got a call this morning from Melissa at Partners (our agency that's doing our home study) and she wanted to schedule our visit. We decided on Tuesday the 23rd at 1pm. 

Eeek!!! I am so excited! I'm a little nervous too because we only get one shot! I asked her if she could give me an idea of things we can do ahead of time to make sure we're fully prepared and she said that it'd only be a 30-45 minute visit and they'd just be looking to make sure we're baby-proofed (we are) and that we don't have any firearms (we don't). She said as long as the house is relatively clean (lol) it should all be an easy visit.

She said that because it's just a follow-up, the report that they write will not take long and will only be like four pages or so. As long as it meets the requirements needed to adopt in GA and other states as well, I have no problem with that.

We have to contact our attorney this month after we have the home study report and then he can look at it and let us know if we need more info or if the information from Partners is what GA requires.

Anyway... that's the latest! Keep us in your prayers as we heard into this next phase of adopting baby #2!!

Babies Can't Wait

Most of my family and friends know that I've been somewhat concerned about Gus's speech and language development for a while. The more kids (his age or a bit older) I'm around, the more I get the sinking feeling that something's not right.

Back in May when I took Gus for his two-year well-baby check, I told his pediatrician that I was slightly concerned with his language. The survey they gave me had five questions, and of the five, he was only doing one or two of the things consistently (one was specifically about the number of words that he was using). She said that anytime a parent has a concern, she doesn't even blink and she'll write a referral. She felt it was best for us to take Gus to get evaluated and get answers for ourselves.

So I called the number that she gave me for the referral and I set up two separate appointments. One was for a hearing evaluation (I know he can hear, but it's required and was going to be an hour-long appointment). The second was for his language screening and it would be a two-hour appointment. Cool beans. Got the appointments and we headed to Michigan & Indiana for our May vacation.

While we were in Michigan, I got a call from the lady at the medical group (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta) telling me that our insurance was out of network for them and that if we still wanted to bring Gus in, it'd be several thousand dollars. We decided that since we were only slightly concerned (of course, his language would keep getting stronger, right???), we'd go ahead and pass on the appointments.

Fast-forward to last week. 

I belong to several online support groups for moms of kids born in May of 2010. One of my groups is on FB and several of the moms were commenting about how sassy their kids are. These are kids the same age as Gus (born in May of 2010). The 2yo dumped out books that the mom had just cleaned up, and the mom said, "Why did you dump them? I'm about to vaccum!" and the 2yo replied, "You are so loud and annoying!" I couldn't believe that a kid the same age as Gus could talk like that. Then another person said that she was trying to snuggle with her son and he said something along the line of, "Get out and leave me alone, you smell." I was floored. Not only because the kids were speaking to their parents like that, but because kids the same age as Gus are ABLE to speak with clear thoughts and in complete sentences.

So maybe I'm dense. Maybe I've been in denial and living in a bubble. I feel like Gus makes progress and he is repeating back words and he has phrases that he says. He sings. He talks all the time, but it's 99% gibberish. I just thought this was all normal. (I hate that word.)

Back in July, my friend Beth gave me the name and number for an intake coordinator for Babies Can't Wait. It's a program here in Georgia that's state-funded and they provide services to children under the age of three. They do just about everything. 

I decided to call Humana (our insurance) and see if they could recommend a doctor in our network for speech therapy. The girl was nice enough, but let me know that we have to meet our $1,000 deductible before anything will be covered by insurance. FABULOUS.

So I immediately called Babies Can't Wait. This was last Tuesday afternoon. October 2nd. When I talked to Beth in July, she said you usually call and it takes a few weeks for someone to eventually get back with you and then it takes months before they come to do an evaluation. I was not expecting anything quick when I called.

I got all my into into the system and was told that someone would be calling me to set up the initial meeting for paperwork and questions. I was called the next day to set up the meeting. Talk about quick!

We decided to meet today at 1:30. The intake coordinator's name was Kathy and she and I had so many connections when we talked on the phone to get the initial information (our names, her family is from the Raleigh area and she knew where Holly Springs was, her birthday is May 11th, and her son's birthday is October 2nd). Anyway, she came to our house today.

I think my background in elementary education has helped tremendously because I knew exactly how an IEP works. If Gus qualifies for services, he'll be on an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan). It's just like an IEP for kids in school.

She did a few hearing tests while Gus was sitting at the table with me and he heard each of the noises she was making (she had a bell and some other devices that made noise). She said she was 100% certain that it's not a hearing issue (which is the first thing they try to rule out). She listened to him talk for a bit and then at the end, she said that she couldn't guarantee anything, but she was 99% certain that he'll qualify. 

So she got all my info and then said that her job as the intake coordinator was done. She'll pass on our info to the person who'll be doing his evaluation. The evaluation is free and they'll do a series of tests to see where his deficiencies lie. He has to be significantly delayed in one area, or moderately delayed in two areas.

She said it'll be between now and ten days and we'll hear from the evaluator. Then we'll schedule the evaluation for him and from the time the evaluation happens, they have 45 days to start services if he qualifies. She said they usually get it all figured out quickly because they don't like to delay starting services. Her guess is that he'd need once a week therapy sessions. 

Because he's turning three in May, there will be a transition meeting in March to get him under the Fulton County School program (Babies Can't Wait is only until they're three) and then the school would see him until he no longer needs services.

I'm torn on the whole thing. I have this huge binder that Kathy gave me with all kinds of information in it about early intervention. I am eager to see if he qualifies and part of me wants him to qualify because I know something's not right and I want him to get help. But there's another side of me that's a bit sad. There's nothing wrong with children with special needs. They are capable and functioning and usually just learn in a different way. I believe this 100%. But I don't want him to be deficient in anything. I don't want his speech and language to hold him back.

I know right now he's two and it's not really that big of a deal. But as he gets older, I don't want him to have any stigmas against him because he's getting help for something he can't control. I don't know. Maybe I'm crazy.


I'm just glad that I finally called and I am getting things going for him. Whether he's delayed and qualifies for services, or if they say he's perfectly fine, I just want to have answers. I told Kathy that my guess is that he's somewhere between 12 and 18 months with his language and she agreed. :-(  She did say that usually kids who are advanced in the gross motor area are lacking in the speech and language area. I just hope we can get him more up to speed and on par with where he should be developmentally.

Enough from me. Just wanted to give an update. I'll post again when we have his evaluation! Please keep us in your prayers!!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

INK (10-1-12)

Making pretend soup at INK
On Monday (October 1st), we went to INK (Interactive Neighborhood for Kids) in Gainesville, GA with my MOMS Club. My friend Kirsten and her son Sam drove with us and we met up with Kathryn and Aubree and then another mom named Kimberly came with her four kiddos. 

Before we left, I had looked online to see how much it'd be for a year membership to INK. It's the same price as a membership to Imagine-It Children's Museum in Atlanta. Both are about 45 minutes away and both have a deal with each other until April that you get in for free with a membership at either place.

INK is $8 a person for anyone over the age of one. So for me and Gus to get in, it was $16. Imagine-It is $12.50 for adults and children under three are free. So for now, Imagine-It is the cheaper museum, but you have to pay for parking, and INK has a free parking lot.

Bottom line, both are really appealing and I had never been to either. So I decided that we'd check them both out before deciding on what to do. I read a lot of mixed reviews of INK and I wasn't 100% certain that I wanted to get a membership there. I filled out the form just in case, and decided to see if we even liked it before buying a membership.
Gus and Sam checking out the turtle

It's a really CUTE museum! There are all kinds of little rooms and each has a different theme. Gus didn't explore as much as I thought, but it was because he found the train tables and he was happy with those. I liked the museum, but parts definitely seemed dated and in need of a face-lift. However, Gus didn't seem to mind one bit.

Gus and Aubree

Off and running to the next exhibit!

A cute little classroom

A courtroom

Stenographer Gus

Magnetic gears

The castle room

The grocery store

The middle of INK

They also had a farm in the back and a giant cow that you could "milk." They also had a real police car and a real firetruck that the kids could crawl on and play. It was really neat.
Aubree in the police car

The giant cow

Gus checking out how milk is collected

I think his favorite thing was the 50s diner. They had a TON of play food, and then a grill, soda machine, and a working jukebox that you could pick whatever music you wanted. Gus and I had a good time dancing together while he and I made cheeseburger baskets for our customers. 

Seconds after the last picture was taken, the power suddenly went off and everything was pitch black. I immediately turned on the flashlight app on my iPhone and made sure that Gus was near. As Steve knows best, when lights go off and I am in darkness, I have TERRIBLE night vision. It takes me quite some time for my eyes to adjust.

Anyway, Gus was fine and tried to keep playing in the dark (I guess being in a dark room for bed has made him immune to the dark). He was not bothered one bit. Some kids were freaking out a bit and it wasn't too long before I heard Kathryn and Kirsten (Kimberly had just left prior to the power going out). We headed to the front and to our surprise, they gave us free passes to come back.

I had no idea what time it was, and to my amazement, it was 12:40. We were probably going to leave around 1:00 anyway, so we were all really excited to have free passes to come back and check it out again. I was excited, because I will be going to Imagine-It here shortly and I'll have a basis for comparison that I didn't have prior to our first visit to INK.

I think I'll probably get a membership at Imagine-It, and then if I want, I can use my membership to go to INK and get in for free until April and then for 1/2 price after April 2013.

We had a great time and headed to Taco Bell as a group to enjoy lunch. It was raining really hard, but we all made it home safe and sound and Gus had an AWESOME nap that afternoon!