Last week Dave and I finished a 13 week course called “It takes two to talk”. The course is for parents of kids with speech delays, and it is designed to give you skills to help encourage language development at home. There were five other couples going through the course with us.
The very first week of the course, we discussed how to “OWL”. It emphasized the importance of Observing, Waiting and Listening. The premise is that we need to give kids a chance to initiate language. We need to WAIT on them to communicate, and take the time to really understand what they are trying to say. Sometimes, this means playing in silence until they have something to communicate, while still giving them cues to take their turn. It was such a departure from what I knew. I thought you were supposed to fill the void with words and descriptions, and sounds. Of every lesson we learned…the very first is still my biggest challenge. The other topics were equally valuable, but weaved throughout every single class….the speech therapist would remind us be OWLing at home.
On the 10th of May, we went for a six month follow-up appointment with the developmental clinic that originally referred Trevor to speech therapy back in December. It was a LONG appointment with tests, and questions, and other gross and fine motor type activities. During the appointment, while I was encouraged with much of Trevor’s progress in his gross motor skills, there was a noticeable delay or lack of response to many receptive language exercises. Also, he is still not joining two words together consistently. I left the appointment feeling pretty mixed. It had been officially six months since we began all of the appointments and meetings, and I had hoped we would be farther along.
Just a few days later on the 14th, we finished up our “It takes two to talk” class. Dave hung with the boys while I attended solo. Good thing he did, since I was a hot mess. Because it was the last night, we spent some time watching videos of the kids, and parents shared about successes we’ve had as a result of what we had learned throughout the course. It was really hard for me to hear about the strides everyone else was making, while it appeared that we were not much farther than when we started. This, combined with the assessment a few days prior, was crushing. I stayed a bit after class with the teacher, expressing my concerns through tears. She was very gracious, and helped me understand that the going can be quite slow, but we WERE making progress. She pointed out that Trevor is saying over 200 words now, and was only saying about 80 when we started the class. Even though he is still not joining words (which typically starts when a child reaches 50 words), she thinks that he has come far. I left there feeling better, but I still cried all the way home because she again reminded me to OWL every chance I get.
My dilemma… I am SO VERY distracted. My co-worker once said that her husband wins arguments by throwing balled up foil in her line of sight. That is ME!!!! I was ADD before it was diagnosed. With work, and home stuff, and cooking, and my sweet Lucas doing things like this….
…I do not give Trevor the time he needs. I am not fully present even when I am physically with him. My phone buzzes, or the timer goes off, or someone just drives by on our street (for.the.love) and my OWLing is over. He gets a partial presence at best most days.
It would be easy for me to say this is how I have always been, or give some other excuse about not having enough time in the day, etc. Life leaves me little time to just observe, and WAIT for him to point out what he sees, or what he wants to say.
But I need to remind myself that it is not about me. It was never about me.
I can see that Trevor wants SO very much to speak to everyone. He looks right at you, and you can see him try to find the words. Often, I end up asking him to show me what he is trying to communicate to reduce his frustration. Sometimes, the struggle is really hard to watch.
My “Operation Presence” plan is not formed yet, but maybe I do not need a plan. (Wait…does Pinterest have such things?!?) I digress.
Maybe that is the issue. All of my planning is leaving me with little unplanned time to get on the floor and play. To walk aimlessly at the park with his favorite truck (aka cruck) while daddy plays with the teeny guy. With no agenda.
I know he is making small strides. And I LOVE to witness the joy on his face when he repeats a new word, or when he does utter the rare two word phrase. The little victories are encouraging.
Until I invent a device that allows me more than 24 hours in a day, our future might look a little like: less time in front of the TV, less faces in cell phone screens, less comparing to other kids. I see more one on one dates, more legos, more train chugging, more previously cooked meals pulled out of the freezer, and more PRAYER! For those others out there that pray, send a few our direction. We need unity, endurance, patience, and most of all, we need to not allow discouragement to creep in.
Thanks for loving us.