Owen has had several development assessments over the last month. Early intervention did their annual review and updated his HELP assessment. He met with a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctor for the first time. He had a speech evaluation (PLS-5 tool) to kick off Speech Therapy. And, on Friday he had a NICU Follow Up Appointment where they administered the Bayley assessment.
It doesn’t matter which assessment or type of health professional you ask. Owen is developmentally at the 10-12 month-old-level. He was born 20.5 months ago and his due date was 17 months ago (we stop correcting in April). Clearly, his development is behind his birth date.
Many people would look at these scores and be devastated. We are not.
We are thrilled.
The progress Owen has made since his first birthday has been amazing to watch. At one-year-old, he was like a limp noodle. When I held him, it was like holding a newborn, he supported none of his weight and sunk into my chest. He could only bear weight for a second or two in his arms and legs and he could not roll over in either direction. Owen was also, essentially, mute. His cry was barely audible and the only other sound we ever heard from him was wheezing when he struggled to breathe.
Had we given these same assessments to him on his first birthday, by my best estimates, he’d have scored at the 0-2 months level for language, probably 2-3 month for gross motor and maybe 3-4 months for fine motor skills.
Now, put those scores into this context. He was born 15 weeks 2 days too early and he spent a total of almost 8 months in the hospital. Maybe even more important than those two facts was his breathing. A typical infant respiratory rate is up to 44 breaths a minute, but after 6 months of age, most take 25-30 breaths a minute. (Adults take 8-16 breaths a minute.) In the first year of his life, Owen’s respiratory rate was nearly never below 50 breaths a minute and most of the time 60-70 or more breaths a minute. Try that for a minute – a breath each second. As you do it, try doing (let alone learning) a motor activity. Or, try talking, or even babbling, through a breath each second. It’s nearly impossible to do. Owen was not physically able to do much more than breathe and it took a lot of assistance to do that.
Yes, he was born 20.5 months ago, but he did not start to develop until 7-8 months ago when he was physically healthy enough to work on development. Do you know what that means?
In my mind, Owen is an overachiever.
He’s been developing for 7-8 months and he is at the 10-12 month-old-level. And he’s done all that with a brain injury, crossed eyes, excessive abdominal scarring and tightness, an oxygen cord constantly in his way and lungs that can’t fully expand.
Yep, I said it: Delays-Schmelays. My kid is a rock star.
A very busy rock star.