I know that we’ve made mention on our blog before, and most friends and family are aware, that our 3-year-old son Ian receives weekly speech therapy services. When he still was not talking–really at all–after his second birthday, around this time last year when he began talking in one and 2-word phrases that were painfully unclear and frustrating to all of us, we knew that we needed to find help for him somewhere.
After months of referrals and evaluations and testing (and the usual amount of government red tape, of course), he finally began speech therapy through Indiana First Steps last May. Miss Carol, who was his therapist, came to our house each week with a big bag of toys, games and various tools to help get Ian talking and later articulate his words. In one hour each week, she did the impossible of engaging Ian in conversation and forcing him to repeat after her for almost the entire hour. And he loved every minute! He would wait at his window with baited breath (and sometimes binoculars!) to see what Miss Carol was bringing each week.
By his third birthday in November, he had progressed so far that we were on pins and needles to find out if he qualified for continued therapy in the neighborhood Early Learning Center after he aged out of First Steps, which ends on a child’s third birthday. We were thrilled to discover, just days before his birthday, that Ian would continue speech therapy. We now go weekly to the Early Learning Center just outside of our neighborhood for him to work for 30 minutes with Ms. Murphy, his new Speech-Language Pathologist and a little gal who is also 3 and struggles with the same articulation issues as Ian.
As someone who has never undergone any form of therapy (speech, occupational, physical, etc.) in my life, the concept of doing what is hardest for you, for 30 minutes or an hour at one time is so outside of what I can grasp. While I am an introvert, by nature, I have always enjoyed and excelled at public speaking, theater, am a former teacher and love to sit down and engage in conversation one-on-one. So, to think that these things that are so second-nature to me are to my son like how it is for me to learn the intricacies of a mechanical engine or how a chemical reaction occurs (insert most scientific principles here)–it’s mind-blowing to me!
His work ethic is amazing to me. Yes, we do have moments where he flat-out tells me “No” when I ask him to repeat himself if a phrase is unclear, but frequently he tries and you can see the concentration on his face as he uses every ounce of energy in his being to communicate the thoughts that are stirring in his mind to me, or to Jason, or to any adult who takes the time to engage him in conversation. For a skill that is so basic and second-nature to most of us, and crucial to our day-to-day lives, to be the hardest thing to do has got to be frustrating. Now he can express his frustration to me. And I love that–because it shows the progress that he is making. I don’t love that my son gets frustrated, but I appreciate that he is learning the skills to articulate his frustration–instead of shrieking and flailing and dropping to the floor in tears.
A year ago, it was a great day if Ian could say to me “Ma”, in reference to me. Last week he gave me a kiss and for the first time, clearly and with 100% accurate articulation told me, “I love you, Mama.”
While the road ahead is still long in giving our son the skills he needs to clearly and effectively communicate, I celebrate the leaps and tip-toe steps that have led us to the place where he his today. God has given him this challenge to overcome for something incredible. I cannot wait to see him to-and someday on-the other side, where he will use his voice for a great purpose.
- It’s been a lousy week…
- How much is too much?