The Prince’s Speech
It’s summertime and we’re enjoying gentle, summer breezes, unlike the school year that was a hurricane of emotion.
Our sweet youngest boy, our spare prince, Evan had been attending speech therapy for quite some time. Not a big deal. We contracted with a wonderful speech path at the beginning of the school year to visit with Evan at school. Things were going smoothly—as smoothly as things can go with a mischievous 3-year-old who enjoys pretending he doesn’t hear you.
Then, it was mentioned maybe something was going on that went deeper than just an articulation issue.
His lack of confidence with his speech was affecting participation in class and his ability to create friendships. He wasn’t having conversations with teachers or with his family, which made it difficult to figure out what he was learning and, just in general, what was going on in his head.
What, oh, what was going on? Greg and I were stumped.
We only had experience with one other child to compare. Yes, yes, I know—love, share and never compare and all that stuff— but, when you have no other frame of reference, playing the comparison card comes pretty darn easily. The Heir and the Spare, you know.
What does a thoroughly Modern Mom do? Especially one that works full time and is used to instant answers and being able to fix problems?
I turned to the experts. And the Internet.
I private messaged a friend, a PhD in child psychology in California, peppering him with scenarios. Never mind that I hadn’t seen him since high school graduation and he had never met my child. Thanks to Facebook, he gave me lots of answers.
And, he gave me lots more to worry about.
Evan started occupational therapy for a possible sensory issue. It seems he is sensitive to extra large spaces. Good to know: he’ll be perfectly content to live in a 300-square-foot, rent-controlled NYC apartment one day.
We started doubling and tripling on speech. We love our speech path. and I will forever be in a debt of gratitude to her—she treated him with a lot of respect and understood that all his stored up knowledge was just bursting to get out!
She pushed him until the words practically sputtered out. And, when he did, the Prince was proud of himself! And, when he spoke to a friend, the Prince felt good.
We were told by his school program that he was behind and they didn’t have the resources to help. I was shell-shocked. On top of it, the school staff could not give me resources to consult. We were basically left on our own. I have never been more frustrated, indignant, upset or ticked in my life! I felt they were writing him off—- at age four.
Should I call juvie hall and make a reservation for him? Do they take AmEx or will taxpayers fund it?
This was my child! Who were they to say he was behind? And who were they to come to me with a problem but not have an answer?! Exsqueeze me but…WTH?
So, the real quest began. I learned there are a great deal of schools, programs, places for school-age children with autism, Asperger’s, learning disabilities, language delays of all shapes and sizes to go for help but nothing, zero, zilch for a preschool- aged child.
It seems that there is a huge gap in society for this child. Not physically disabled, not mentally handicapped. With the alarming rate of autism diagnoses in this country and people (yes, including teachers and administrators) so quick to label a child, you would think there would be a place to get help. Yet, I also understand diagnosing children at this age can be tough because they are developing so rapidly. Evan, basically, is a moving target.
Again, Super Speech Path to the rescue! She came armed with books, names and phone numbers! We made calls, we set appointments, we changed schools (yes, yes, I did—- I earned my Mama wings that day!).
We had him evaluated, observed, gazed upon. He has been looked at more than a bug under glass. We aren’t done yet and we don’t have the answer. But, then again, the answer can be scary. It could be the end to some painful questions we’ve had to ask ourselves. Then again, the answer could be a relief.
The good news is we have found a school program specially designed for him, and we are relieved that he will be in a nurturing environment where the staff understands what he is dealing with and will work to conform to his style and his needs, not the other way around. Instead of dreading next school year, I look forward to it after witnessing what can be done with the right programs, teachers and administrators.
I look for this prince to be happy, confident, and successful in school….and delivering the commencement speech -- Class 2026!