From the second you lay eyes upon your brand new baby, it’s love at first sight. You count their 10 little fingers and their 10 little toes. You check to see whose eye color they inherited. You check to see if baby is bald or has hair and you snuggle that sweet, little bundle of pure perfection because God blessed you with such a beautiful gift…
…however, there are some things you might not be aware of at that exact moment. Does this child have a food allergy? Will this child have a learning disability? Will this child have a speech delay? Will this child have Autism? These aren’t even things that are crossing your mind, right now, because you can’t see them. As you nuzzle that precious child, all you see is that everything on the outside appears to be perfect.
I was told, over and over again, by almost everyone I know: “Do not compare your children.” When Benjamin came along, however, it was impossible for me not to. My daughter was all I knew and she was pretty advanced for her age, according to our pediatrician. When Benjamin turned one, his speech was no where near where his sister’s was at his age. My mommy instincts told me to ask our pediatrician about it, so at his one year well-baby exam, I brought it up. They were not concerned, so for the next 6 months we brushed my concerns aside, because “he’s a boy.” At his 18 month well-baby exam, again, I brought it up. They did their Autism evaluation on him and spoke to him themselves for a while and told me he was fine. “He’s the second sibling. His sister is doing all of the talking for him. No need to worry.” I found myself silencing my instincts yet again. At his 2 year well-baby exam, I stressed my concern for the final time; I was going to move forward with or without their support.
The state funded program, Birth to Three, came out to our home and did an evaluation. He was on the fence, in their eyes. He did not qualify for their services, but they could see why I was concerned. The words they used, foreign to me, were “Apraxia of Speech.” They were sending out a specialist and we would figure out where to go from there…
“What the heck is Apraxia of Speech?!” I worried myself as I ushered them out of our home. I began my obsessive, frantic googling and suddenly remembered a sweet friend of mine who has a son with Apraxia. I immediately reached out to her and what a saint she was! Sending me loads and loads of information and inviting me to local events. I would’ve lost my mind if it hadn’t have been for her. She truly eased my mind and made the long wait for the specialist a heck of a lot easier. When the specialist finally came out and met with us, she was also on the fence, but assured me that Ben did not have Apraxia of Speech. According to her, something like that isn’t usually diagnosed until 3-4 years of age and Benjamin was only 2.5 at that time. “Great,” I thought…but now what?
My concern just continued to grow the older he got. Finally, another friend of mine reached out, around the time Benjamin turned 3, knowing the concerns I had about him. A local university was doing free speech evaluations on children. Spaces were limited so I called right away and was able to secure a slot. Benjamin was not at all comfortable in the environment. We were tucked away in a small, windowless office space with two strange women and a few scattered toys and books. He clung to me, refusing to speak. By the end of the session, he’d managed to say a handful of words and we left the office with paperwork reporting the severity of the situation and their concern regarding his speech. We were instructed to reach out to different speech pathologists to see who would be the best fit for him.
I was furious and totally disagreed with their final report. I had a definite concern regarding his speech but Benjamin being “20% intelligible” was not accurate by any means! I asked for recommendations from a local mom’s group on FB and then I started making phone calls. Most places were already booked. A few others could only get us in at times that were completely impossible for our busy schedule and, finally, others were going to require us to take out a small loan to be able to pay for services rendered. Finally, when I was at the end of my rope and about ready to rip my hair out, a dear friend of mine reached out to me and told me about her boys’ speech therapist. Not only were her prices incredibly reasonable, but she also came to their home, where my friend’s boys’ were most comfortable. I heaved a huge sigh of relief and called her instantly. She was booked until August of 2016 (just 3 months from when I reached out to her), but that was ok; she was worth the wait. I wanted her…no…”want” isn’t a strong enough word. I NEEDED her for my Benjamin.
At the beginning of August, an unrecognizable vehicle pulled up in front of our house and in walked the sweetest, kindest, most sincere girl I’d ever met in my life. I call her a girl, not as an insult by any means, but because she’s much younger than I am; she’d just returned from her honeymoon. Miss Emily. Benjamin took to her right away, taking her hand, and leading her to his room. My eyes filled with tears. There was hope for my sweet boy yet. We’d get him the help he needed. He wouldn’t fall any further behind. We had Miss Emily now. All was right in the world. My boy was going to be ok.
It’s been 8 months since Benjamin first started with Miss Emily. Their sessions include arts and crafts, games, playing, tongue exercises, and the list goes on and on. Some sessions have been harder for Ben than others. He’s your typical 3 year old with a huge side of stubborn, but ladies and gentlemen, he did it. Today was our final meeting with Miss Emily. He has come so far. His teachers and friends all understand him, his grandparents and cousins all understand him, even strangers in the grocery store understand my sweet baby’s voice. He’s heard, understood, and acknowledged. I can’t put into words what Miss Emily has done for us. We are indebted to her. She saw his potential and never once agreed with the original report from the local university. She had faith in our boy.
This, in no way, means we’ll never need her services again, but I can rest easy, for now, knowing Benjamin will start Kindergarten in a little over a year and a half, with a fair start, just like everybody else. He’s no longer frustrated from being misunderstood; he talks endlessly and makes friends wherever he goes.
Thank you, to our Miss Emily, for being our little super hero’s true hero at a time that he so desperately needed her. Her patience and soft-spoken nature didn’t go unnoticed. We are so thankful for everything she did for him and for us. We truly love her ❤
And a word from the wise? Always follow that mommy instinct, ladies. We know our children better than anybody else!