19 Nov
2013
Posted in: parenting
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Speech Therapy — Child Development Center

Recently I’ve been reflecting on our 6-year-old son’s path to overcoming speech obstacles with speech therapy. His therapy ended 18 months ago when he tested out three months before starting kindergarten. Therapy was an amazing process for both C and I.

Happy. Joyful. Exuberant. That’s our third son. Very little dampens his spirit.

We knew he was having problems with his speech. The “k” wasn’t there. We had him tested at our local Child Development Center several times and waited until we were told he qualified for services. He finally reached the level and age  needed to qualify when he was 4.

There were meetings and LOTS of paperwork before we met his speech therapist. I remember feeling anxious leading up to that first meeting. I knew I didn’t have the skills to get C to where he needed to be. I wasn’t sure how C would react to therapy, and I was concerned about having a therapist assigned to us instead of having some say in the process. I like to be in control or at least feel like I am. C was excited to meet his therapist and overjoyed to find out he would have homework just like his brothers. Still, no one knew how he would take to this therapy thing. Not us. Not anyone who did the evaluations. Not his preschool teacher.

C puzzle speech therapyC wouldn’t go back to the therapist’s office without me, which meant that little office had the therapist, C, me and our 2-year-old daughter. The therapist never once acted like we were in the way and was nothing but gracious. She might have been entirely annoyed, but never let on. I remember watching that first meeting like it was last month. He sat down and did it. He said “k.” Start of words. End of words. That sound was there. It wasn’t easy. He had to think about it…concentrate. It was going to take lots of work, practice and patience, but he could do it. After only three meetings, I felt like I had a set of tools to help our son. I no longer felt helpless. I felt empowered.

Moving toward speech therapy

People couldn’t understand most of what C said before therapy. It didn’t become an issue for Craig and I until it became an issue for C. People didn’t understand. C would repeat himself. People still didn’t understand, and C would chooses a different word. The kid is smart and has a phenomenal vocabulary. Finding shortcuts around making the “k” sound was not the answer to the problem. Plus his name starts with a “k”, and people were continually writing it and saying it with a “t.” He was frustrated, and I feared our exuberant little boy would start to withdraw inward.

The months leading up to qualifying for services were hard on our happy kid. I could see the subtle change in his face when someone didn’t understand what he said. I saw his frustration when we didn’t understand. I hated the idea of this joy-filled boy losing his joy because of something we could learn to fix together. The CDC in our community is an asset. It took a few evaluations before C qualified. Between evaluations, I had inquired about private speech therapy. It would have financially been a stretch for us to go the private route. Thankfully we had the CDC to help our C and it not be a financial burden.

I know there are children who require many more services than our C. I’m so grateful to have access to an organization like the CDC who can reach so many children on such a wide spectrum. I wasn’t ready for the emotions I had during that first therapy session. He could do it, he would do it, and he had a team to help him succeed. It was no longer us. That whole strength in numbers thing.

The day we signed the paperwork releasing C from therapy was bittersweet. We adored his therapist. Even now, C and A ask about her. I saw her at preschool a few weeks back evaluating a friend’s son. She has no idea how much she strengthened me during a period when I felt I was faltering as a mother. She helped C surpass his biggest obstacle in his short 6 years and for that she’ll always be one of my favorite people.

We signed the papers and headed to our car. I remember buckling the kids into their seats and crying behind the steering wheel. I allowed myself that moment to be grateful and blessed. God met us where we needed, when we needed and with just the right person. I felt triumphant for C and that little bugger was proud of all the work he has put in. Even now I’ll hear him slowdown to make sure he’s hitting all the “k”s, and I’m brought right back to that office with that little man who met his challenge head-on.

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