Hello fellow mommies,
I’m assuming if you’re reading this you are in a similar situation. I wish I had started down this path way sooner but happy to have finally started it at all. I want to share my story to bring comfort to other moms but also be that extra push for the moms second guessing themselves. This is a long post so get comfortable.
My son was born in the summer of 2013. I remember being so anxious before having him. My whole life had been spent around children. I was the 2nd oldest in a large family and babysat for other families all the time.I watched one family fairly exclusively before getting married and had even watched them overnight/extended periods of time. I was even an elementary school teacher. Yet something just made me feel so unprepared to have my own.
While pregnant with my son I was teaching a 3rd/4th grade elementary school class and there was one student who really stood out to me. We will call him David. David was a very bright student. He had good grades and worked really hard. He was a little more shy but tried to make friends. His biggest struggle was speech and he spoke with a lisp which made it hard for him to be understood at times. Each week he was pulled out of class for one on one time with the speech therapist. I remember really trying to accommodate our schedule with his so he wouldn’t fall too far behind. But you could tell how awkward he felt leaving with the therapist each week. I went in to have a meeting with her once and we were both blown away by all of his strengths. Yet even having all of these strengths he didn’t always feel capable because of his peers.
Kids are mean. It’s as simple as that. My son is not exempt and has instigated his fair share of fights. But one thing I felt I failed him at personally was not starting speech sooner.
When he was born he was healthy and happy. Everyone talked about what a joy he was to be around 🙂 He ate well, slept well and learned things so quickly. He became independent so fast! By the time he was one he only said a few words like “ball”, “mama” and “dada” using our names was really pushing it though. As he got closer to 18months old he would tell me it was time to go or ask where something was fairly often. He was able to follow any directions I gave him but also able to do so much on his own. I figured since he could do it he didn’t feel the need to talk as much. He was about 6 months older than most of his friends so I didn’t notice a big difference right away. He was always just happy and easy going.
When he was around 20months I started nannying and the little girl I watched, about a month younger, was saying so much more. Everyone attributed it to her being a girl and that he would catch up. I remember listening to her Mom sharing all of these examples of her asking for specific things and I was struggling to get much of anything from my son. I would feel so discouraged when the Dad would ask if he talked and didn’t know what to say. I was doing everything that’s recommended; we read, played, identified objects and did so many activities to encourage language but didn’t make much progress.
That summer (2015) he had just turned 2 and I was pregnant with my daughter. We were back home and both family and friends started commenting on his speech and comparing him to everyone else near his age. Other family and friends were supportive and said just to wait. However, I kept feeling like I needed to at least try something else.
Near the end of the summer I finally looked into getting him evaluated by a speech therapist but each attempt fell through so I saw it as a sign.
We returned home a few weeks after having my daughter and it was a rough transition. He adored his new sister but was use to more attention. We had moved to a new home and my husband became even more busy with school and now work. I spent most of the year trying not to push my son to hard as he adapted to the changes. I thought they were the reasons for his delay in speech. It started to nag at me again though when one of his friends asked why he talked like a baby or “why does he talk that way?” I almost burst into tears. I told my husband I just had to do something about it. He was still as active and curious as ever but I knew he was getting so frustrated when trying to communicate.
I finally got him an evaluation before he turned 3 and they said he barely qualified. Since the school year was almost up they weren’t going to start him on anything and said to be reevaluated in October. His vocabulary exploded over the summer but 75% of the time I was the only one who fully understood what he was saying. I went back and forth on whether I should wait or if I should get him evaluated again. Everything inside of me said just to go in again so we did. He qualified in 2 language areas but since he wasn’t way behind he was placed in a classroom with kids who have similar language patterns.
I met with his teacher and was overwhelmed with the information, paperwork, and the label “special education.” I was signing all of the papers and really questioning if I was doing the right thing or not. The night before he started I was a nervous wreck! My husband helped reassure me and kept me calm all night long.
My son started 2 weeks ago and he loves it! He always wants to go see his friends. I have been impressed with the classroom set up, curriculum, activities, and teacher.
I honestly felt that I had failed my son for the longest time and could have done everything differently. I constantly blamed myself for things that were out of my control. I made lists of things we could have completed together to change things. But the honest to goodness truth was that there was NOTHING wrong with him and still isn’t. Only an obstacle he has to overcome and learn from with additional resources.
Each time we walk through the school doors and head out to our car I realize how grateful I am for the resources they provide in most every school district.
Hoping that by starting now he won’t struggle as much in elementary school.
I FINALLY stopped listening to everyone else and followed my gut instinct. YOU and ONLY YOU know what is best for your child so believe that. Everyone can fill your ears and mind with opinions but you know the backstory and best accommodations for your child in most every circumstance. YOU KNOW if something is off.
Truth is I did nothing wrong. My daughter is the complete opposite and already says a few phrases and knew about 10-12 words by the time she was one. My son just needs the extra modeling, guiding, and peer interaction.
I feel like he’s a whole new person already and I’m excited to post an update in a few months.
Just believe in yourself as a parent,