First Year Developmental Assessment

We just came home from the high-risk pediatric clinic at Austin First Steps and I thought I would share my thoughts and the twin’s results. This was an appointment I was excited to go to yet dreading to hear the results from.

This clinic tracks everything based on the child’s corrected age. Something that I’ve always had a hard time with. One, no one else seems to do this, so it makes you wonder what difference it really makes. And two, no matter how much you understand that your child SHOULD be behind since there lives inside the womb was shortened–therefore their overall existence has been shortened–you want them to be judged by their actual age. You want to be able to say, my kids are right on track.

As expected, neither of the twins are on track exactly.

Let’s start with Hudson. Hudson did great. He did things I’ve never seen him do before like put pegs in a board. Way to go Hud! Based on the Balyley-III Scales of Infant Development he came out average for his cognitive, language, and motor skills. I actually thought he would be above average since he seems to be just like all the other 13 month old babies I see, but I guess not. Not to worry. I KNOW he’s just fine and will be right there with his peers by 2 years of age. Have you seen that boy run?! And I swear yesterday he put his shoe on when I flippantly asked him to do so.

Now it’s Ellisa’s turn. Ellisa is doing amazingly! I’m so proud of where she is at and I still don’t believe that she is doing as great as she is (I’m just waiting one day for the blow). With all that said, she is definitely behind. Behind is okay though. She’s progressing and developing just as she should be. That’s all we can hope for. Based on the same Balyley-III Scales of Infant Development that Hudson was tested on, Ellisa came out average for her cognitive, and motor skills, but low average for her language. Which is funny because she seems to be “speaking” way more than Hudson. I think the difference is that she makes lots of sounds frequently, but Hudson’s sounds and communication skills are more advanced. She’ll get there though. I have NO doubt.

The hard part is this clinic is very optimistic. And I like that. It gives families hope. They truly understand that Ellisa is doing an amazing job for what she went through. That was nice to hear. But when they tell you that she is acting like a 10-11 month old (keep in mind this is adjusted for her prematurity), I look at that like she is 3 months behind, or 5 months behind her actual age. Yes, the cup is half empty over here. I try to remind myself that she was in NICU for 2.5 months just laying there trying to ignore the pressure on her brain AND she was born almost 2 months early. So if you consider all of that, she’s really right on track at around 4.5 months behind. 4.5 months isn’t much when you’re 10 years old but right now at 13 months, it seems like a lot.

I was warned that both of them are at high-risk for autism and ADHD. Both of them because they were premature AND because they are twins. But Ellisa even more so because of her brain damage. The pediatrician did emphasize that Ellisa’s obvious acknowledgment of her surroundings (pointing at objects) is a great sign that she doesn’t have ADHD. Not pointing is one of the first signs of ADHD–children not recognizing or focusing on their surrounding environment. I don’t have the energy to worry about these other possibilities, so I’ll put them on hold until I’m told to be concerned.

I wish I could have observed the testing more to assess how accurate I thought it really was (I’m a bit skeptical of these tests), but I had to watch the other twin and/or talk to the doctors during most of the testing. I did get to squeeze in some videos for those interested. These videos show a snippet of the testing. Pretty cool.

On this video you’ll notice that Ellisa passes two of three tests. I was pleasantly surprised. The first test puts a plastic bracelet under a plastic box with one side opened. It’s kind of hard to see in the video. The second test I’m not sure what she’s supposed to do (makes me wonder how under developed I am). I think she’s supposed to lift the string up to play with the ring? The third test is to squeeze the duck.

I had no idea Hudson could put pegs in a board–his first test. I did know he wasn’t playing make believe yet (giving the baby doll a drink).

On the way out we got two books and a case of Pediasure. That was nice of them. I’m going through Pediasure like it’s water and that stuff ‘aint cheap (For the record, I HATE that I have to feed Ellisa Pediasure). Plus I got a ton of tips on enriching their diet and developmental activities. So worth the time, effort, and money.

I left feeling pretty good. Of course, I would love to hear that both my babies are right on track, but I was mentally prepared knowing that wasn’t going to happen. So I left feeling grateful. Grateful that my son is average. Grateful that my daughter isn’t too far behind. Grateful that I have two children to call my own. Simply grateful.

5 Responses to “First Year Developmental Assessment”
  1. pforpeanuts says:

    Just to clarify, no one mentioned ANYTHING about either of them having autism or ADHD, just that they are at a higher-risk. I didn’t ask how much higher as I didn’t want to know and I don’t even think anyone truly knows at this point.

  2. chris1957 says:

    Bit young to be thinking about adhd! But good to know that the news seems good. ADHD is a complex illness and no diagnosis really should be made till maybe 6 years, that sort of time and sometimes much much later, even secondary school.

  3. Joseph says:

    I have no idea what “possibly” being months behind means in the grand scheme of things. A lot of the study of child development seems a bit shaky as kids have varying ages where they seem to explode with development. Kids that were worried about in grade school excel in middle school or vice versa. No idea how you even measure that factor? They both look great! I would think if Elissa is not showing signs of the more mild ADHD, then how would it even be possible not to see signs of a more severe condition like Autism? Give them a treat from me!

    • I agree with Joe about measuring development. It’s so hard to determine what is “normal” when it is all based on averages, and to determine an average there have to be scores both above and below what is determined as the norm. And children do change developmentally so very quickly: my nephew has ADHD and did horribly in grade school even on medication, receiving mostly Ds on his grade cards and getting in trouble on a weekly basis. Once he got to middle school, his grades became mostly As and Bs without any change in medication and he hasn’t been in trouble once.

      Your kids are doing great! I’m surprised by how much they have learned each time I see them, even when it has just been a few days between visits.

  4. Sarah says:

    Very cool! I love watching this testing process. They both seem to be doing really well!

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