Tuesday, October 09, 2012

James's IFSP

Today is just a normal day in the Norvell household. We had our annual "IFSP" today, which stands for Individual Family Service Plan. A lady from the Department of Human Services meets with our Developmental Therapist (Jeff) and Jon and I to make sure we're all on the same page, and that we have goals for the next year. Prior to this meeting, Jeff did an assessment of James's development, and I thought you'd be interested to know the results:

Gross Motor: 12-month range. He is not standing alone and taking steps, but he is climbing into adult chair.

Fine Motor: 18-month range. He is scribbling spontaneously, but is not building a tower of 5-6 blocks.

Cognitive: 18-month. He does point to pics in books, but is not naming two objects.

Communication: 19-month. He does point to one body part when asked, but is not speaking twenty words.

Self-help: 16-month. He does imitate housework, but does not show wet or soiled pants.

Social/Emotional: 16-month. Stranger anxiety has reappeared, but he does not pick up and put away toys.

So those are the official findings, and here are my thoughts on them:
Gross Motor: Jeff fully believes that once James starts walking, he will really jump forward in this area. Until James walks, though, he'll be stuck in the 12-month range. I am proud, though, that he continues to make progress. His "scoot," which has served him so well, is slowly turning into a hands/knees crawl. While he is not walking, he is continuing to make very good progress without plateauing.

Fine Motor: Not much to say about that.

Cognitive: This one is tricky, because I believe he CAN name two object, but he chooses not to. He is two, after all. However, there are times when I really don't know, so marking him at a lower level helps us make sure that we all work on it with him.

Communication: I'll list his words below, but this one is a little controversial. Jeff (and apparently DHS in general) does not recognize sign language as communication. Therefore, James only gets credit for the words he verbalizes. But again, it's no real harm to mark him lower than he actually is, because it encourages us to continue working with him.

Self-help: That boy is a cleaner! Give him a napkin, and he goes to town rubbing down whatever he can find. Isn't it funny that that's a developmental milestone? Just one of those things that all kids do, but no one really pays attention to. In regard to wet/soiled pants, well, I've discussed that with potty training. He'll learn!

Social/Emotional: Stranger anxiety, favoring mom over dad (when it used to be the other way around) are good signs that usually occur when a child gains more mobility. However, like is listed, he hasn't learned yet to put toys back where they belong. He will help me clean up, and enjoys and understands putting blocks where they belong, but only if I'm there directing him. Usually, he pulls everything out (books, blocks, clothes, pillows, etc.) and leaves them there. Thanks, son.

So, there is the assessment and my thoughts on them. I'm super-happy that James is where he is. Basically, he's at the 18-month range, and I think that's awesome. Of course, the blaring "no walk" makes him seem much younger, but he continues to gain strength and balance, and he'll get it eventually! I'm so proud of him.

Based on this assessment, Jeff and I decided to leave our goals as they were, with the addition of working toward building a tower of 5-6 blocks. You can kind of infer the other goals from the assessment: standing alone, naming two objects, speaking twenty words, etc. Once that is decided, this DHS lady joins us for the official IFSP, and we all check in and make sure we're happy with what's going on. Since I already had the discussion with Jeff, there's really not a lot of discussion needed with the DHS lady. We sign papers and agree to meet in another year. Jeff does a quarterly evaluation, but we only do this IFSP once a year, unless I feel a need to call one sooner. Next year we will be transitioning to receiving therapy from the school instead of from Jeff, so we'll be learning new things then.

As a matter of fact, Jon and I are going to a talk tonight that discusses our rights and other things we need to know about kids with special needs in schools. But that's a side note.

So, onto the words that James knows. James is a talker, just like his brother! It is non-stop noise around here! I LIVE for the hour of rest time in the afternoon that gives me 60 minutes of uninterrupted thought. Bliss. James is learning sign language with the speech therapists at Hope Landing, and of course he's also learning verbal speech. He's doing so well, and I've noticed lately that he's starting to do many signs and words independently instead of only repeating what others are doing. That's a great step! Generally, with the words he knows, and the "yesses" and "nos" that I get from him, we communicate just fine, but I can't wait for him to tell me stories and ask me questions. Then I think I might require TWO hours of rest time in the afternoon! Really, I enjoy every minute of discussions with Caleb and James.

Okay, I promise we're getting to the words!

Here is what James VERBALIZES. He speaks them out loud. Anything with an "(I)" means that he does them independently:
  1. Mama
  2. Dada
  3. Bubba
  4. Nana (I)
  5. Banana (I)
  6. Light (I)
  7. Cat (I)
  8. Dog (I)
  9. Meow (I)
  10. Woof
  11. Moo
  12. Quack (I)
  13. Brrrrummmm (car) (I)
  14. All Done (I) (First two-word sentence! Says when he's finished with things, or after we've said a prayer. So cute!)
  15. Please (I) (Says when he wants his cup of milk, usually, and accompanied by the "please" sign.)
Here is what James SIGNS. He uses ASL, or usually his own version of it. Just like "banana" sounds like "nana" when kids first say it, signs are also simplified.
  1. Light (I)
  2. Dog (I)
  3. Granddad
  4. Train
  5. Book
  6. Boat (I)
  7. Ball
  8. Swing (I)
  9. Please (I)
  10. Milk
  11. Shoes
  12. Flower (I)
  13. Bear
  14. Elephant
  15. Duck
  16. Potty
  17. Sleepy (I)
  18. Nose
  19. Mouth
  20. Hat
  21. Up (I)
  22. Eat (I)
  23. More (I)
  24. All Done
  25. Diaper
  26. No (I)
  27. Baby(I)
So you see he has plenty to say!

Of course there's more I could say about his development, but I think this post has gone on long enough! I hope this gives you a little insight into what we do with James.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. If you read this blog, you know someone who has Down syndrome, which makes you much more aware than most! But, in the interest of promoting awareness, I'd love to know if you have any questions. Do you want to know anything about James? Our family dynamics? Thoughts about our future? Of course, we're only 2 years into this, and we have so much more to learn, but I'd love to answer any questions you have! Just leave a comment and ask away!


  1. He is making such good progress! I know that walking will open a floodgate of motor skills and speech. It's just around the corner! you really WILL need that 2 hr nap time!

  2. Way to go James! Keep it up, family!
    As for a question, how do his peers at church relate to him?

    1. This is a good question! Since we're in a small church, he really doesn't have anyone who is two. He has a friend who just turned one, and those two are thick as thieves. They enjoy playing together very much. James is a little older, and understands give and take a little better--mostly that means he takes and gets away with it, not that he shares!

      Then there is another little boy who just turned three, but he plays with Caleb, mostly.

      None of the kids seem to notice or mind that James isn't walking or talking. After all, they don't have all the developmental charts and things that we have! They always cheer him on, just like they cheer any other kid on who's attempting new things.


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