Tuesday, March 9, 2010


We got a copy of Finn's IFSP in today's mail.


I promised myself months ago that I wasn't going to read these things anymore. Because, really, what purpose does it serve except to bring me down? Seeing my son, whom I see every day as sweet and stubborn and clever and ornery and funny, reduced to numbers in a sterile report hurts my heart.

But having the thick brown envelope sitting in my hands makes it nearly impossible not to look at what's inside. And so I looked.

From his evaluation last month (chronological age: 19 months), here's where his skill levels fell:

GROSS MOTOR: 6 months
(Really?? The notes say "Finn crawls as his primary means of locomotion. He pulls himself to a kneeling position onto furniture." How many typical 6-month-olds do this? Wouldn't this be rather advanced for a 6-month-old?)
FINE MOTOR: 6 months
(Notes: "Finnian will reach for objects with his hands." That's it. Gah! He does so much more than that!)

It is interesting to note that he assessed at a younger skill level in every area this time than he did six months prior at his last eval. So, he regressed? No, he did not. He was evaluated by a different person, using a different assessment method this time. Which just goes to show, it's all so very subjective. And none of it - no assessment tool on the planet, nor any person performing the evaluation - can possibly show a true, complete picture of what Finn is actually capable of. None of these evaluations take into account that one of his favorite things to do is open the latch on the dog's crate (fine motor) and let the dog out. Or how he knows exactly where the drawer in the kitchen is with all the tupperware lids, and how he loves to empty that drawer out. Or how he puts a towel over his head and then whips it off, and cracks up, playing peek-a-boo. Or how he knows where to find his favorite toys. Or how he will transfer a toy from one hand to the other when I'm getting him dressed. Or a million other things.

I remember when Finn was a mere 3 and a half weeks old, and he rolled over for the first time. I was shocked and amazed - none of my "regular" kids had rolled over nearly that early. And it wasn't a one-time thing - he kept rolling from that day. And I remember thinking, "Maybe he'll make history and be the first person with Down syndrome on his karyotype, but not have any of the delays associated with Down syndrome. Maybe he'll have Down syndrome but be a genius!" Ahhh. It makes me sad now to think back on how desperately I wanted him to be okay. And back then, in my mind, okay meant as normal, and even advanced, as possible. I had not yet gained this knowledge that a full, happy life, and a life of value, is not tied to how smart one is, or how high one can jump or how early one walks. A full, happy life, a life of value, is tied to loving and being loved, to experiencing joy on any level.

So, yeah, Finn is delayed. How much? I have no idea. These evaluations aren't consistent and therefore can't seem to give an accurate assessment of where he's at. I am making a conscious effort not to take this all too much to heart. Finn is a whole person above and beyond any evaluation report or IFSP. He's delayed, yes. But he's progressing. He's happy and healthy and loved.


Mel said...

Those stupid numbers would make me mad too. What is the point of them? Would any kid measure up perfectly? I bet not. Throw it away!

Wendy P said...

I hate the eval process. I LOVE that boy. And his mama.

Esther and Brian said...

Absolutely, Lisa. You and I talked about this on email- these evals are silly and drove me nuts, too. And you are right, a typical 6 months old does not crawl or pull himself up, either. Not even an "advanced" one.

Try to forget about this as much as I am trying to forget our evaluation...not worth it, because at the end of the day, Finn is who he is and he's perfect the way he is...

Sonia said...

Finn is absolutely perfect...hmmm I guess I should take a look at Lil's evaluation (maybe not). And he so rocks the hawk!

heather said...

I'm laughing at his gross motor skills. ALL of my kids have been delayed then because none of mine crawled before 8 months and pulled to standing around 9 months. Wonder where they found all of those 6 month olds crawling and walking for their control group! Stupid assessments. I hate them!

Carla said...

Way to go Finn! Ignore the numbers Lisa. He is obviosuly advancing on his own terms. And seems to me, once he started (pulling up, right) he hasn't slowed down since.

Molly and Calvin said...

This makes me think that parents should be the ones submitting these evaluations!

Your words on what's important, loving and being loved and experiencing joy on any level, brought tears to my eyes and made me remember this myself. Thanks, Finn.

alyny said...

Lisa you know Finn is progressing.
I just went through a similar thing with my son Cullen. His fine motor was at 18 mos (he was 37 mos), his speech was at 20 mos(he was again at 37 mos) then he had the required "psychological eval" he scored in the 2nd percentile. Devastating to read those numbers. But I stopped remembered he was Cullen he has progresses a lot even before his therapy and the numbers don't change who he is. (((HUGS))) Still hard to see in print though

Stacey said...

Have you heard about that Twitter account, "Shit My Dad Says"? here is one quote, "The baby will talk when he talks, relax. It ain't like he knows the cure for cancer and he just ain't spitting it out."
Made me think of you. The truth is you will worry about Finn forever, but not any more or any less than any of your other children too.

Talley Images said...

Boo on the numbers... Finn looks and sounds perfectly wonderful to me

Anna Alexandrova said...

This is really confusing to me. At 6 months my "normal" son did not do any of the things Finn does: did not crawl, did not pull up to standing, did not play drums in rhythm with his dad's guitar, did not empty drawers, did not play pickaboo...I can go on! Where do these benchmarks come from?! From what planet?!?!

I am really shocked by these numbers.

Grandpa J said...

Lisa, I cried amd smiled reading this amazing post, because once again you magically communicate to us readers what you're feeling and thinking--deeply, and we so get it, making it a breeze to empathize with you. Finn's future seems on target to be a life of value, and he'll jump high for joy--because loving and being loved is what your home is all about, 19 months worth so far for him, and that'll always progress.

Jennifer Zener said...

You know the saying..."A Mother Knows Best"...this is one of those times:-) Don't let the stats discourage you...they are based on subjective findings. You know he's doing great and he is.

Chrystal said...

I swear. This is just...ARGH! So, so angry. It doesn't even make sense!

These evaluations help no one.

Carrie said...

I hate when they put a number on it...no one does that with typical kids! The other thing that drives me crazy with those evals is how I tell the OT or PT what my daughter is doing and they give me the, "uh-huh, right" look and then say, "we'll put that as an emerging skill" when really she has been doing it consistently for weeks, just not at the therapy sessions!

Ria said...

I'm glad our IFSP review doesn't include assessing what "age level" Matthew is at. We just stick to reviewing/ revising the outcomes and goals and adding new ones. Don't pay attention to those numbers. It's all relative. And as you noted, the type of assessment made a difference too. The fact that Finn is progressing is all you need to focus on. Keep up the good work!