Standards, Percentiles and Equivalents

Yesterday a team of four speech-language and therapy evaluators came to my home to take a gander at Captain Crazy Legs who, early on, had some hearing difficulties and has been a little bit behind on the communication spectrum. They ran him through a battery of tests, which were more like a series of fun games and activities for a busy toddler, and within moments of completion I had his personalized assesment in my hot little hands.

I will start off by acknowledging that, as a parent, taking the initial step to have a child evaluated for any delay or disability can be somewhat intimidating. You are looking for answers, wanting to be reassured that your child is “normal” or you are desperate for someone to affirm your fears that your child is needing intervention–alleviating your guilt for thinking that something might be “a little off” in your little one. Just knowing that you can help your child can be so empowering… on the other hand, not knowing how to help can be very frustrating, for you AND for your child.

Leading up to Crazy Legs’ evaluation I tried to make light of it. I didn’t mention it to our older children and we took the morning of his eval pretty slow. He slept in and was in his favorite pj’s when the crew showed up. A  few stray toast crumbs lingered at the corners of his mouth and he was tooling around with his newest toy car.

He played, stacked blocks like a pro, searched for Cheerios on command, scribbled on papers for the lovely ladies and stood on one foot. At the end of their hour long visit the therapist/evaluation team affirmed my concerns, telling me that my son was about 7 months behind in his communication skills and lags in all other areas as well. His skills ranged from an age equivalence of 18 months to 23 months, with most areas hanging right around the average 20 month old child. Then they informed me that he does not qualify for any intervention or therapy services.  On a percentile chart, his scores averaged to 29%… whatever that even means.

Before our team left I was given a helpful handout (note: sarcasm) titled “Shaping Communication”. The handout has some really great suggestions like:

Set Clear Expectations: …”I expect my child to talk.”

Play Dumb: Shrug your shoulders

Do Something to Get Something: …child has to give you the desired response to get the desired item.

Be Consistent: NO communication, NO item, EVERY time

I suppose my frustration stems from the lack of empowerment I had hoped for.  I am sure that every effort afforded to these women was made to help my child to the fullest extent that their program allows but I was left with more questions from their visit than I was given answers. I wanted to know how to help my child; the one sided sheet of tips I was given is more likely to help me paper-train a dog or shake off a pesky tourist. I want my child to feel like Mommy wants to help him, not that she doesn’t care enough to make an effort to understand him. I don’t want to pacify him, I want to encourage his growth and development. I want to foster independence, not dependence. I want to teach him to think creatively, not to act like a robot that pushes a button to elicit a response. Yes, I want him to behave. There is a difference between being strong-willed and having free-will.

Have you ever been in a place where your child was explained to you in terms of averages, percentiles, standards and age equivalents?

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Myrinda
    Oct 14, 2011 @ 02:30:49

    girl, you are on my FB, you KNOW how I feel about this. It works the other way too. If you have one that is considered “advanced” they will give you all kinds of crap about how they still have to stay in the seat and do the EXACT same work as the other kids, even though the others tested at a range of say 50-75% on whatever test and your kids score is 100%. Obviously you need an online forum for his specific issues. It might take a while to find the right one, but I assure you, those parents of kids like yours have a lot more to teach than a silly one sided paper! And I’m here for you, if you need someone 🙂


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