Parenting is such a huge job. It’s full of emotion both good and bad. I have never laughed and cried so much in my life. I never thought I would be writing a blog. I never thought I would be on this journey. I guess I’m writing these as a way to get this all straight in my head. It’s actually more therapeutic than I imagined. In our previous post I wrote about my thoughts going into our first speech therapy session. This post I hope to let you know a bit more about what happened so any of you who read this and are about to take that first step can (Hopefully) feel that little bit more confident.
We were referred to the speech therapist by our health visitor. For children under 5 this is the usual pathways but there are also avenues such as through a child’s early years provision or school or the GP. I would say that these need to be your first port of call if you have any concerns. I was thankful when our health visitor agreed to refer us. The relief that someone would take me seriously. However, as soon as the letter for our appointment arrived I started to question everything. Were they going to think I was just a neurotic first time Mum? Was there going to be something more ‘wrong’ with him? Is it me? Did I miss something? Have I not played the right games? Did I push too hard? The walk to the child development centre was full of all these thoughts.
Our appointment was at our local Child Development Centre. We were welcomed by the receptionist and the waiting area was child friendly. There was lots to play with and J was happy opening and shutting the play house doors and windows. When we got called in J went though the doors to the assessment room. Our first hurdle was getting J to stay in the room rather than playing with the door. The therapist ended up sat against the door. J then explored the toys whilst we chatted. The therapist played different games to assess him and what he can do. She was very patient. There was no sense of J being an annoyance and nothing he did seemed to phase her. She took her time with him, started to build a relationship with him and us.
I think the important thing for me was that I was spoken to. She genuinely wanted to know about J, and about my concerns. She asked a lot of questions about his life so far and what we had been doing at home. I got everything out of my head and it felt good. There was no judgement, no eye rolling or blame. She spoke honestly about her thoughts on where J is now and what the next steps would be. I was thinking that we would have to wait for a report or letter to know the outcome but she explained everything there and then.
So, we now have a ‘diagnosis’. J has ‘expressive language delay’. This means he can understand language but just can’t get it out. There may be something more but for now she will focus on supporting this area of his difficulties. We now have a plan of action. There is a starting point and we can only go forward. I am relieved that it wasn’t just me being over anxious and the journey to support J in finding a way to communicate with the world is now beginning.
When I got home guess what the first thing I did was…I went on google! My advice if you do want to do this is be careful what you read. Different countries have different expectations, therapies and beliefs. I tried to stick to the UK sites. I also was aware of who had written the advice. I read blogs from parents who had been through this, I read NHS and government documents and I also looked at charity websites. I found this had a lot of leaflets written in a way that was easy to understand.
Next, speak to people about it. Having a child with additional needs is nothing to be ashamed of. I was worried I’d be judged but frankly I have now learnt I need to develop a thick skin. I need to focus on J. By talking to people about it such as friends and family it meant they were aware and could also be part of helping both J and myself. It was helpful to get things out there and not bottle up how I felt. You as a parent need to have a release.
So, our next step is to look in other communication methods. These will be increasing Makaton and starting to use PECS (picture exchange communication system). The future is looking a lot less lonely and whole light brighter.
Hello from 2018! I just wanted to let everyone know who is reading this for the first time that we have finished our time with our specialist speech therapist. Coming back and reading these first blog posts have shown me just how much we have been through and how far we’ve come. If you are wondering what life may look like in a year or two years time then please come and read our update. Our journey hasn’t ended but it’s a whole new world for us. So here it is…moving on x