The first thing the pathologist said when she came back with him was that "it's obvious that he's been in therapy before". And before I could interrupt to correct her she went on to say how well he did with listening to instruction, how wonderfully he comprehends, how good he was about at least trying everything she threw at him, etc.
Besides it being an optimum time of the day -- the first part of the morning, before he gets tired or even hungry for a snack -- I explained to her that a big part of what he has going for him, because it certainly hasn't been professional therapy up to this point, is simply his big sister. Because HOLY COW I learn things from Olivia, about imaginary play and making up lyrics when you don't know the song and seeing shapes in ordinary objects and "what makes this sound, mama?" and other questions that come up about every single daily situation. She is so extremely articulate and inventive and she engages her little brother's mind and body in play -- and strife -- every. single. day.
People would pay good money for Olivia Therapy, I tell you what.
We also naturally incorporate many of the "therapy" techniques in our daily living, I have come to learn. Things like giving choices between the "blue airplane or the yellow", and automatically counting out "one, two for me, one, two for you..." and insisting on and then waiting for him to ariticulate "words" that he can say -- like "yes, mommy" or "more, please". Even when these are simply attempts at articulating and not actual intelligible utterings. Common sense parenting, I call it. But something that so many children apparently do not receive.
In fact, it got to where the more I realized how good his learning environment has been without my realizing it the more apprehensive I started to feel about his speech problem. I mean, where would he be by now if he hadn't had the Olivia Factor all along?
I came home with a couple of new things to work on, in particular the vowels. Everything can be a game or a song with the vowels, which we have already done, to an extent. But what I can do differently is to isolate the vowels: the "ee", for instance, is a sound that he has not made for me that I can recall. But the therapist said that he did it for her, so hats off to the professionals, I must say; that is why we parents need you. She knew how to introduce the sound to sort of draw it out of him without him thinking about it.
For instance, just yesterday we were eating pretzels and Sean-Peter and his sister started biting them to make letters. (See? Who comes up with this stuff? Not me, I'm afraid.) As I'm munching away I realized that Sean-Peter was continually uttering "Buh-buh-buh-buh" and mimicking The Letter Factory because he had bitten out a B from his pretzel. When I praised him and said, "Oh, Sean-Peter! did you make a B-ee? He said, "Uh-huh, mm-mm". He can utter Buh, but not say Bee.
This wasn't at all the first time I realized this, of course. In fact, when people ask about his speech I usually give the example of how he can articulate the sound buh-buh-buh... But when you try to transition to buh-buh-buh-baby he comes out with buh-buh-buh-Mm-mm. (And the response has invariably been, "Oh, how interesting", followed by a pensive little head nod. I am still hopeful for the "Oh, yea, I knew a child who did that!" and then getting to hear the follow-up of how it all came out.)(But I am still waiting.)
We still have one more time to meet with the assessors once they've written up his IEP. I'm sure I'll have all kinds of paperwork to sign to make it all official before we get started, but there shouldn't be any real surprises, simply because I have already talked so exhaustively with both assessors and also because the pathologist today assured me we've pretty much already covered everything. About the only question I have now, reflecting on all that's been said, is how, exactly, are they labeling his delay? Or are they?
I'm really just curious, because the bottom line is that he qualifies for their care. But it also would be helpful to know how they are approaching this from an educational and developmental viewpoint. The pathologist explained this morning, for instance, that she doesn't at all believe the speech delay is language-related, which might mean, among other things, that he has difficulty with comprehension, or with communicating in general. But it's a definite no on both accounts.
The unfortunate thing that I learned today is that it doesn't look like he'll actually be at the preschool with the people we have been meeting with thus far; the classes are currently all booked, which I knew, and the new one they are opening is going to be at a different location, and not for at least a couple of weeks.
Which is a bummer, to be sure, but life has often taught me that these changes often bring about surprising blessings. Who knows? Maybe the other setting will be even better. Really, we've just gotten started; it's not like he's gotten into a groove with these people and now it's going to be interrupted.
And something tells me this little guy is going to be just fine, chappy cheeks and all.
Yes, this picture was just taken today... What, you don't still have your Christmas decorations out?