I have always shared Leo's milestones here, it has been our sacred place to speak about his achievements, the things he says and the things he does. It has also been our place to talk about the difficulties we have experienced over the years, and it seems that those same difficulties are still following my little man around.
I always find it hard to put into words when I talk about what troubles Leo, and this is because he is just a normal little boy. He looks like any other happy child, he sounds like any other happy child. He loves like his heart might burst at any given moment, and he cares deeply about his family and the people around him. I may be biased, but he is a beautiful little human.
This is why I find it so hard to put his struggles into words, because how can someone so loving, so normal, so beautiful have everything he needs in all of those areas, but struggle so much with academic learning? How can that same little boy be classed as globally delayed.
I always knew school was going to be a struggle, I mean how could it not after the last couple of years of being told he was so behind his peers? First it was the speech delay, then it was his social interaction and now it's everything that goes on in a reception class. Granted his speech has come along absolutely beautifully and you would never even know now that he didn't talk straight away. In fact a recent speech assessment has told me that Leo's speech essentially masks his wider delay. They say that his speech has advanced ahead of his understanding, and although the report also highlighted areas that I do agree with, this is one point that I definitely disagree with.
Leo is very particular about what interests him, if it's something that pleases him and he wants to do, he will listen to instruction and follow through with the task. If however it is something that he does not want to do, you can bet your bottom dollar that he will halfheartedly take part. You could even say that he plays on the fact that he knows the teachers are taking his learning slow and steady with him, like he almost knows what they are thinking.
What is global delay?
The term 'developmental delay' or 'global development delay' is used when a child takes longer to reach certain developmental milestones than other children their age. This might include learning to walk or in Leo's case talk,. It could even be developing motor skills, learning new things and interacting with others socially and emotionally.
In some cases, the delay will be short-term and can be overcome with additional support or therapy. However, in other cases the delay may be more significant and the child will need ongoing support – this indicates they may also have a learning disability.
School have informed me that Leo is globally delayed, but this is not an assessment that has come from a pediatrician. This is just something that has been used to describe the situation as it is right at this moment in time. Leo is learning you see and we have all been doing so much with him to try and bring him along that little bit more. I recently purchased the 'Teach your Monster to Read' App and Leo has been absolutely loving it, he's been coming along marvelously with all of his sounds, but is still struggling when it comes to putting words together. But I will take that as a step forward, because this is the first time he has shown an interest in letters and sounds. All of a sudden it's like he actually wants to try.
The school are fantastic, Leo now gets a lot of 1 to 1 and this seems to help spur him a long a little more. The most recent news is that we have finally been referred to the Pediatrician and are awaiting our first appointment, and on the 28th of this month we have an educational psychologist coming in to visit with Leo in school. I can only take this as a positive.
I am at the point now where I just want answers and support for Leo. I'm angry that this could have all been sorted over the last couple of years in preparation for when he started school. I'm angry that the health visitor let us down, not just once, but twice.
It was she who raised the initial concerns at Leo's 2 and half year assessment, it was she who ignored my phone calls and didn't follow up with us as she had promised. It was she who a year later came out to the house and told me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with Leo and there was no way that she was going to refer him.
It was she who sent him off to school when she damn well should have referred him.
It was she who let Leo slip through the net.
I am not just angry at her though. I am angry at myself. I am angry that I let her wash this relief all over me, let myself believe those words that I had longed to hear, despite the nursery completely contradicting what the health visitor had said. After years of hearing all of the things that Leo wasn't achieving, I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing it felt hearing that Leo was exceeding for once.
Do you know what though? I would not change a hair on Leo's head. So he finds school hard. So he's not where the other children are right now. I have a beautiful, happy, well behaved little man who is kind, loving and all round amazing.
Leo has made really good friends with a little boy in his class, and when I had to collect my nephew a few weeks ago, I arrived early so I could sneak a peek at Leo playing on the big open field. I have always worried that I would see Leo looking lost as all the other children ran around enjoying themselves, as that is what the feedback from nursery and school has always lead me to believe. What I saw was the complete opposite, Leo and 2 of his friends running around, playing, kicking the football. Having a great time. I sat there for around 5 minutes just watching. Then I couldn't resist calling him over, he was so excited to see me and his little friends bounded over with him.
For me the most important factors are that Leo is happy, he likes school, he has friends. That to me is all that really matters. We will get Leo where he needs to be, but the fact that he is smiling is worth so much more than anything else.