I've heard that children generally drop either the beginning or ending sounds in one-syllable words when learning to speak but that children with Down syndrome tend to drop beginning sounds while typically developing children tend to drop ending sounds. I don't know if this is fact based on research or just a speech pathologist's observation from experience. It is interesting though.
The Evaluation - Preschool Language Scale (PLS)
We were in the evaluation room for about an hour. I was allowed to stay in there with him. Some schools do not allow parents to be present in the evaluation room. Matthew fully cooperated for about 20 minutes. There were a few toys used at the beginning of the evaluation to test his receptive language by following one and two-step directions.
He also did fine with pointing to body parts and clothing items. He listened and pointed to pictures of objects in response to "where" questions such as "Where is the dog?" However, he didn't understand "who" and "what" questions such as "Who is sleeping?' - when shown pictures of a baby sleeping and a boy eating - and "What do you wear on your feet?" - when shown pictures of a banana and shoes. It's not because he cannot identify a sleeping baby. He definitely knows to wear shoes on his feet, not his head. He didn't understand the question and what was being asked of him. I guess this is one of the many aspects of expressive language that he needs work on.
Picture after picture after picture, Matthew was asked to say what he saw. This was to get an idea of how he articulated words and substituted certain letters. For example, he says "doh" for "no", substituting a 'd' for the 'n'. And with picture after picture after picture, Matthew's patience and attention span started waning. It was quite gruelling, especially for a 35-month old. Then he was "ah dah" (all done) and turning away. Neither I nor his speech therapist, who also works at the school, could get him to say any more words for the evaluator.
We wrapped up the evaluation with me answering the evaluator's questions. Elizabeth had fallen asleep on my shoulder.
Hot Tip: Prepare a Developmental Achievement Chart
I brought an updated copy of the Developmental Achievement Chart (mentioned in my previous post "Transition Meeting") to this evaluation and it helped answer many of the evaluator's questions in far less time than it would've taken otherwise. Some of the information I included in the Communication section are:
- a list of words Matthew understands.
- a list of words Matthew signs.
- a list of words Matthew verbalizes with consistent sounds, including how he says them. For example, help (ehp).
- a list of songs he "sings" and knows the fingerplay/ actions to.
- a list of one-step directions he understands.
I also listed specific things that I think he needed to work on or is currently working on. For example, opposite the list of one-step directions, I wrote that he needed to work on understanding 2-step directions, related and unrelated, and in the order they were given to him.
The information I provided in the Developmental Achievement Chart will be included in the school's evaluation reports in addition to the progress notes from his therapists in the Early Intervention program. Hopefully this will give everyone involved in his education the most accurate picture of his strengths and weaknesses and a good starting point for discussing and formulating his IEP (Individualized Education Program) goals.
Matthew will have two more evaluations - one by an occupational therapist and the other by a physical therapist.
Then we'll have the staffing meeting to discuss the results and finally the IEP meeting right before his birthday.
1st Screening for Preschool