We went along to see the Health Visitor, brimming with confidence, completed questionnaire in hand. X managed to walk all the way there – and that involves a mighty great hill – without complaining, and held my hand nearly all the way.
We arrive, 15 minutes early… and eventually got seen 15 minutes late. X desperately wanted to go off and play with a little girl about his age, with which normally I would happily oblige, but this was a Doctors’ waiting room and this girl was clearly quite unwell, so I tried to keep him close by. Just as he was getting to the tantrum stage of boredom, we were finally called through.
X happily held court, talking to the health visitor, trying to open drawers, standing on the height chart and shouting “Look at me, Mummy! Look at me!”. The health visitor went through our questionnaire and then looked concerned.
“We seem to have a bit of a problem on the Problem Solving section. With this score, I would have to refer him for further check ups…”
“I don’t have concerns, I mean, look at him, but the score…”
There are two questions on there I haven’t answered as we didn’t get chance to try them out, or X wasn’t willing at the time; I assumed half the point of this meeting was that we could try those things out? Let’s face it, I could have just ticked yes to everything on this list and she’d have believed me… but I wanted to answer truthfully, of course. To be completely honest, I sort of fibbed on one of them anyway as it’s something we don’t often encourage but I’m sure X would do given half the chance…
“Well, I’ll go and get some blocks, and we can try this one?” she said, referring to the question that reads: While your child watches, line up four objects, like cars or blocks, in a row. Does your child copy or imitate you and line up four objects in a row?
Now, the only reason I hadn’t ticked this one is because X point blank refused to sit still to try it. He’d start building a tower, or driving the cars around.
I got him stripped off ready to be weighed while she went to get some wooden blocks – he wasn’t happy being weighed, especially as she used the baby scales and he is quite used to standing on the ones on the floor. I finally got him dressed, after he ran around the room naked for a few minutes (thankfully, no peeing incidents), then he sat on my lap and she showed him the blocks.
“Now can you watch?” she lined the bricks up and counted to 5. “Now you do it.” she continued, as she spread the blocks around the desk. He looked at her, and started lining the blocks up perfectly in a row, counting each one as he did it.
And then correctly named all the colours.
She asked me a few more questions about some of our answers, and it turns out I just didn’t understand how vague the questions were meant to be – as a bit of a perfectionist, I assumed the questions were all completely literal. Apparently not. Some information along those lines on the document might have been nice, especially as some of the questions were very specific.
The thing that really gets me here is that this questionnaire covers from age 23 months and 0 days to 25 months and 15 days. 2 and a half months. That is a HUGE amount of time for a toddler. Two weeks ago he wasn’t threading things on to strings, and that might have meant, had his appointment been at 23 months, he would have had to be referred for additional check ups. Who knows what he’ll be doing in 6 weeks time – he might well have mastered using two utensils to eat his meals, or drinking from an open top cup, which would have given him top scores. Scores which shouldn’t mean anything, as it says quite clearly on the front of the questionnaire that this isn’t a test…
I don’t understand this need to categorise children’s abilities like this at such an early age?! And they’re all learning so quickly at the minute, and learning in different ways and at different times. Can’t we just celebrate the good instead of concentrating on the bad? If our kids saw health visitors more than once in a blue moon like they used to, there wouldn’t be any need for these silly tests – they’d already know. I understand that they want to catch any early developmental issues as soon as possible, but there’s got to be a better way of doing it?!
Anyway, end of rant! All this experience has done is reiterated to me that I know my wonderful boy well enough to know that he’s doing great.