Friday, May 14, 2010

Developmental Delay

What is developmental delay?  When I first heard that diagnosis I really didn't understand it.  At that time I didn't run right home and look it up on the computer.  I went with what the professionals were telling me. 

They told me that Haley was behind in all areas of development, cognition, socialization, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, communication and adaptive abilities.  Percent of delay, which is the difference between her chronological age and her functional age, with a measurement on the tests greater than 25% would qualify her for services.  My child's percent of delay range was from 28% to 91%.  According to the tests there was no doubt she was developmentally delayed.

The word delay led me to believe that she would catch up.  Her functional age on the tests was about half of her real age.  We took her to a wonderful therapy center for speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy beginning when she was about 20 months old.  We then took her to be evaluated at OHSU a few months later and she had already shown improvement.  In fact they said that she had improved at a rate that they would expect from a normally developing child.  This gave me encouragement.  This made me think that it was only a matter of time and therapy.

It took me some time to realize that was not the case.  I value every therapy session we took her to.  I am greatly indebted to every teacher she has had.  My child has learned and grown, but she is developmentally delayed. The term was coined  in 1970 to describe the population of individuals who had historically been institutionalized.  It basically means mentally retarded.  The term mental retardation is used after the age of five.  When she was diagnosed at that age with mental retardation friends and family who know Haley were appalled.  That can't be right, Haley is so smart.  She is, I think, but you can't deny that when you look at other twelve year olds it is pretty obvious that she is delayed.

It is what it is.  Haley is the way she is.  We continue to do the best we can for her.  I see little things everyday that are improvements, but I don't expect her to someday catch up.

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