Singing was our method of distraction.
The car seat deserves a mention. Jessica had a hate/hate relationship with her car seat. She HATED it. She cried every time we put her in it. The only way to keep her from crying was to sing. Simply playing music on the radio or cassette player wasn’t sufficient. She needed us to sing out loud. So we sang. And we sang A LOT! Wee Sing was her favorite cassette.
King Cole’s Birthday Party – Sing Along
A month before Jessica’s first birthday, we moved to Texas because my mother’s job relocated. My father’s job was going to transfer about 6 months later. For entertainment, my sister, Mom, Jess, and I went shopping. There are a lot of malls in Houston and we saw all of them. But Jess cried everywhere we went. So, naturally, we became expert singers. We got so much experience it was ridiculous. We picked songs from two groups. One group was nursery rhymes. Jess had a favorite tape and it was Wee Sing Old King Cole’s Birthday Party. It is an hour of classic nursery rhymes woven into a tale of a journey to the Birthday Party. I can still sing all the songs in the correct order. It is possible that I can still do this because she still listens to King Cole. It will forever be one of her favorites.
Jessica’s other genre was (and is) church hymns. She loved hymns as much as she loved King Cole. To this day, she still has her favorites, and if I start one of them she will immediately join right in.
Singing became of way of life, so to speak. Jess learned very well by being sung to. If there was something we wanted her to learn, all we had to do was put it to song and she would get it. This is still true. If you were at our house on any particular day, you could hear us break into song to get a point across.
Evaluations and Testing
In her 13th month of life, Jessica seemed to be developing normally in many ways. Her language skills were improving and she could say more than a few words including banana, light, outside, Mama, Nonnie, and “Daddad” (Granddad). Like a typical toddler, she was getting into everything and climbing on everything she could find.
Our time in Texas wouldn’t last. The homesickness was too powerful and we moved back home after 6 months. However, while we were there, we signed up for some early intervention services that Texas had to offer. That meant more evaluations and testing.
One assessment was by a Pediatric Ophthalmologist. I remember this visit because I remember thinking the doctor’s opinion did not match our reality. He had a small Mickey Mouse figure that I remember being several inches long with a face about an inch in diameter. My memories on the exact size of Mickey Mouse have faded, but I remember what the doctor thought.
Recognize Mickey? I think not.
He was sure that Jess recognized Mickey’s face and became very excited about it and wanted to play with it. He said in his report that her vision would be one to two feet acuity and that there may be continued improvement over the next few years. I didn’t take much stock in this since he thought she “recognized” Mickey Mouse’s face. She had never been exposed to Mickey Mouse’s face so how could she recognize it? He ordered a visual evoked potential which measures how well the brain is able to respond to visual stimuli.
The Visual Evoked Potential Report Made More Sense
The findings? Measurable responses to flash stimulation were absent. Jessica’s excitement about Mickey Mouse was most likely coincidental.
An Assessment With Devastating News
I have one other specific memory of the evaluations we had done in Texas. One was a general assessment of skills done in our home. I watched with great unease as they tried to get Jess to do things that she had never been exposed to. She couldn’t do most, if any, of them. For example, one of the things they tried to have her do is manipulate 1 inch cubes. This is a common assessment tool, but I could not understand why they were judging her based on activities she had never been exposed to and couldn’t visually mimic. When they finished their assessment, they added a diagnosis to Jessica’s growing list.
They casually told us she was Developmentally Delayed.
Next: About Assessments