As we had been having the same difficulties with her at home, I went ahead and called the recommended Child Find and made an appointment for her to be screened.
The Child Find Program is operated by the Boulder Valley School District, and all children 0-5 living within the school district are eligible for the free service. They will evaluate everything from vision and hearing concerns to social and emotional development, and give you the resources to address and help the problems at hand.
I believe there are similar programs in place nation wide, and would definitely recommend contacting your local public school district to inquire whether they have a similar service available if it's something you might need.
The screening started with hearing and vision tests. Although we didn't have any concrete observations about Kristina's hearing being lacking, all the ear infections and tubes during her baby years certainly put in the real potential for substantial damage to have occurred.
However, Kristina's hearing and vision were pronounced perfect, and we moved right on to the speech evaluation.
She did well with it overall. It included naming pictures on cards, describing what they were for, saying the alphabet and naming the sound of individual letters, picking out a block based on color, counting, and answering hypothetical questions such as "if you were thirsty, what should you do?"
("Get some water or juice to drink!" was Kristina's immediate (and very correct!) answer to that one. And if her giving the correct answer to an obvious question seems like an odd thing to remark on, you have not spent enough time around preschoolers, because some seriously RANDOM shit comes out of their mouths all the damn time.)
Kristina's language overall was very good. Her mistakes, such as using the ffff sound in words with a th (like saying "free" instead of "three") were labeled as very age appropriate, and not of concern. Her cognitive reasoning and conversation skills were excellent, and everything else fell well within the expected range for her age.
Next came the motor skills. Fine motor activities are NOT Kristina's forte, and I was most concerned about how this part would go.
First the evaluator had her draw simple pictures, starting with a line, and then a circle, and continuing through several simple shapes and letters with each being a little more difficult than the last. Kristina's pencil grip was awkward and weak, and even though I was somewhat concerned at whether she was doing very well with the whole thing, the official diagnoses still placed her within the normal (passing) range for her age.
Then she was set to the task of cutting, first following a straight line, then a curved line, and then cutting out a dinosaur. I have to admit, I owe a big thank you to her preschools over the years for giving her these skills, as I have not been big on having scissors readily available for small hands.
(Note to self: let Kristina use scissors more.)
(Note to self: let *gulp* Adrianna *gulp gulp* use scissors.)
(Note to self: don't cry
And finally, it was time for the gross motor exercise, which involved balancing on one foot, jumping, and skipping, all of which Kristina did at age level. I actually thought she seemed a little clumsy from her normal activities, although that may just be because she was trying to do things as instructed instead of simply hopping on one foot when the whim strikes as she usually does.
Overall Kristina was marked as Passing for everything, and was not seen as needing any additional services.
And that diagnoses leaves me slightly conflicted.
One the one hand, I was actually worried that they might try to stick an ADHD diagnosis on her, and that I'd be fighting about medicating her (or rather, my refusal to do so) for the next 10 years. But on the other side, the idea of 'bring your child here for whatever sort of play therapy once a week, and we will make things noticeably better in 6 months' really didn't sound half bad either.
They did suggest a few things for helping in day-to-day life, such as making sure she gets active time before school, incorporating sneaky fine motor things like drawing maps and making signs/labels into regular playtime, and giving her a picture list of specific toys to play with during unstructured free time to help give her direction and focus.
And ultimately, just recognizing, embracing, and coping with the fact that she is an intensely spirited child.
She is MY intensely spirited child.