Earlier this year, I wrote about my son, and the delay in his language skills. Despite my hesitation and concerns, I went ahead with the doctor recommended evaluation, and soon after, speech therapy.
The speech evaluation was just as frustrating as I had thought it would be. We had an hour to convince my son to warm up to complete strangers in his home, and perform tasks on demand. He had a late nap and was forced to wake up for the evaluation. It took him 20 minutes to warm up. He performed what he wanted to, but not to what they expected. I was crestfallen. I was no longer afraid to admit he was delayed in speech. However, I was annoyed that he might score lower because of the way the exam turned out.
By the time we had a therapist assigned to us, I was hopeful. I successfully convinced myself that only good could come out of this. These were weekly sessions, and we could use suggestions on how to work with him. I rearranged my office hours to ensure I would be present for every session.
The first few sessions were not good. Again, my son did not want to cooperate. He wasn’t familiar with this new person. He didn’t understand why we were making him do things. He became frustrated. He threw tantrums.
In time, things got significantly better. The therapist learned which activities were more interesting and engaging to him. She taught him ways to communicate. She made the sessions fun. He is now more interactive. He asks for things and tried to engage us in conversation. He’s able to function properly in most group settings and isn’t too adverse to trying new things.
Most importantly, this entire experience taught me something. Our son wasn’t the only person that needed communication skills. As parents, my husband and I had to learn as well. We learned that we created an environment that didn’t require him to speak. He never had to ask for anything. Everything was presented for him before he had time to want it. Why ask if you don’t have to?
We also learned which activities and reinforcements worked best. We engage much more when we read and play. We learned what he loves best. We learned to encourage him in different ways. It’s been an amazing growth experience for us all.
It’s not easy to hear when your child is considered at risk for developmental delays. My mind went through past scenarios and wondered where we went wrong. I questioned our parenting skills. I felt deep pain and sorrow.
What we’ve learned is that our son just needed the right environment and a little boost. He’s progressing wonderfully. He has mastered so many skills that are expected of children his age. He tries to communicate often, and he’s more of a shy kid that just needs some time to warm up. His perceived social anxiety is really not so much of a worry.
It’s easy to be afraid of the unknown. It’s the what-ifs and the worst case scenarios that get to you. What I’ve learned is that you can’t control these things. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. What defines you is how you support your child, and ensure you give them the best tools to succeed. It’s been an enriching experience thus far, and I look forward to everything our son will experience.