When my son was 18 months old, he was not talking or communicating at age level, as a family member pointed out as a possible problem. She suggested I get it checked out with the school district. The school district had an early intervention program which was free if he qualified for services, and so I figured we had nothing to lose. He did end up qualifying for services, and he has had an IEP ever since.
With the IEP comes a yearly meeting, along with testing to see if he still qualifies for services. The test measures where the child is developmentally compared to peers. It is admittedly disheartening to walk out of those meetings sometimes, after you hear; "Your child is in the 5th percentile for such and such, and in the 8th percentile for such and such." And so on down the test, and of course being in the 5th percentile for something means that 95 percent of children the same age are at a higher level. The testers have always been very kind to us and have always explained that communication was a huge setback, but that didn't always make the meetings easier.
After years of this, how exciting it was to go to a recent parent-teacher conference and to be presented with Eli's current academic scores for reading and math! He scored right at grade level for reading, and in math he was not as high, but still within the average range. I have an average student! Now I know that this test he took and the developmental tests of the IEP are not the same, we are not comparing apples to apples here, but this is still amazing. I could not be any prouder of my little guy. I just feel that if his communication has improved to such a level to understand all this abstract academic material, we are also approaching a much better developmental level, too.