I knew at 22 months that my son was behind in speech. However, I also told myself that some learn speech later, that I was being too much of a helicopter type parent, tryng to label my child. I told myself he just hadn't hit the language explosion yet. (quick FYI, the language explosion happens around 18 months to 24 months; by their 3rd birthday they go from a few words before the "explosion" to 1,000-3,000).
However, I felt uneasy. My intuition told me, be concerned. It is okay to be concerned. Act on it. So in November I went on a google-quest and called here and there and everything directed me to a regional center. If you've read my blog, you may recall the voice mail said responses take months. I finally got an email from them two weeks ago.
However, two weeks ago my mom was visiting from out of state and went to visit her former co-workers before heading over to my place. She found out from her BFF/co worker that the teacher's aide was on leave as she was busy with three newly fostered special needs children who were in speech full time. On campus. Come to find out there is a free early intervention program at the school to those that qualify.
I weas going to call yesterday, as they are on campus Tuesdays. However, my cell reception sucks so often I have to drive to town to make a call, driving past the school, so I dropped by instead. I was nervous, but the secretary I know was there so she calmed me down and reassured me. I walked into a room full of toddlers and toys, my son hollered and clung to me, thinking it was day care and that I'd drop him off. The head speech therapist was busy with an IEP so her aide took down my name and number, address, son's name and birthdate and a quick one sentence response to "what brings you here?". We were encouraged to hang out and participate, it was a group setting and we sang phonics-based nursery rhymes. Usually the 3 and unders go with the aide and 3-5s with the therapist but today was different so we all crowded together. We dipped eggs in dye. We had a small snack, trying to encourage speech and choice (water or juice? Cheese or cracker?) and we did a quick craft.
I felt bad. My son was the least talkative. I could tell others had speech issues, but they spoke. They spoke English and my son just babbles if even that. I thought, oh gosh its worse than I thought. But then again, the other kids have been in speech therapy and my son hasn't so of course they are likely to be ahead.
The aide will call me at some point for an intake interview. I hope we qualify and that this setting and process is what will work. Especally because it is walking distance from home, and during my day off, verses going with the regional center 45 minutes away. Plus it looks like we will get services asap.
I started to feel bad though. I'm a mom with a child who has speech delays. He therefore could have a language disorder or dsability. Here I am a teacher and I'm freaking out because my special little guy is, well, special. He will have a label. I don't like this. But even my husband said, after I came home yesterday, yeah...he has a speech issue, we cannot ignore it. I was so happy to have found services for him but so bummed that he isn't "perfect". I went on facebook and found two of my friends' toddlers are in speech therapy. I felt relieved. I was no longer the black sheep, speech issues became more "normal" to me, and I have supportive friends who will help me on this journey. Their kiddos have progressed amazingly. So now I am filled with hope. And no matter what, my special boy is perfect, even with imperfections, because he is my son. I love him no matter what, and he is perfect just the way he is. God gave me the best gift ever and I love my son, my gift, more than the world itself.