Aurelia, who has just turned three, was nominated by her Babies Can’t Wait caseworker. Ear tube surgery is so common among toddlers that it might seem unusual for two tiny tubes to make such a difference to a child’s development. When Aurelia had her surgery at the age of 18 months, it did much more for her than address her near-constant, recurring ear infections. It was the key in turning around her developmental delays, the most troubling ones being her motor and speech delay. As her ENT doctor told her parents, before the surgery there was so much fluid in her ears at all times and her eardrums were so thick it was like she was hearing everything from underwater. With her new tubes, her hearing and balance were immediately improved. At that point she had only recently been able to stand up on her own two feet . . . it wasn’t long before she was walking confidently, then running, and she hasn’t slowed down since.
A wonderful surprise baby for her “older” parents who had not expected to have a child, she has been a delight for them from the very beginning. Her parents have spilled over with joy at having her in their life and with pride in her every achievement, especially her love of music. She sings as much as she talks (and does a lot of both), loves drums like her mommy, and especially loves playing guitar with her daddy, who is a musician. She got her very own preschool-sized acoustic guitar for her recent birthday.
Referred to Babies Can’t Wait at 15 months because of her delays in motor skills; the evaluation determined that she had delays in other areas as well. However, personal-social skills were her strength – she loved the evaluators, loved playing with them. Her social skills have continued to be her strength, starting with her warm, welcoming smile and easy laugh. She has made great progress in the last two years, especially after the ear tubes made such a difference to her ability to hear things well and keep her balance. Today, you couldn’t tell any difference between her ability to climb, jump and play and that of any other child her age on the playground.
While she’s still in the process of “catching up” with the few other remaining delays, her now-strong gross motor skills have laid the foundation for the other skills to develop in time. Considering how far she’s come, some earlier significant worries seem so distant, like wondering if she’d master imaginative play. But that too came along in its own time: one day she picked up a doll and started clapping the doll’s hands, and then she continued to make connections with the doll and with her stuffed animals (pushing a baby doll in a stroller, putting Elmo in a diaper, hugging her gorilla, etc.). Her day care teachers also encourage imaginative play, and she began to enjoy dressing up (preferably in front of the unbreakable mirror her aunt gave her for her birthday). There’s no doubt that her imagination is coming along just fine. It’s a comforting reminder to parents of children with developmental delays that often they can catch up, and that regardless, every child develops life skills at different rates.
Two of Aurelia’s favorite things have been constant from the beginning: music and books, both of which help her to learn and grow. According to her caseworker, who hopes she outgrows the developmental problems she’s had and takes on any future challenges, “what I predict is a darling girl with a big smile, dressed in a ball gown, playing the drums!”
For her session, we had quite the difficulty getting her INTO the dress and wings, but once she decided that they weren’t going to eat her, she really opened up. I think her mommy and I sang “Twinkle Twinkle” about 10000 times, but what really got me is that she knows the band members of the Grateful Dead and The Who!