Today is a rather bittersweet day. It’s exciting in that it shows how far J has come in a relatively short period of time but it’s sad to say goodbye to someone who has been such a big part of our lives for a lot of J’s life!
This morning I went to J’s speech therapy review. He has been seeing his specialist speech and language therapist since he was 1 (he is now 3). She was the first professional to take my concerns about J seriously. I can not tell you the relief I felt when she put in the referral for the pediatrician. She has been our constant, our champion and became a part of J’s life…and mine.
When J started speech therapy he had no functional speech. He had no words and barely any sounds. He barely communicated non-verbally and had minimal to no eye contact. J was unable to complete games and didn’t want to even be in the room most of the time (this was during the opening and shutting door phase).
Today, well today J was discharged from this service. Although this isn’t the end of his speech therapy journey it is the end of his time under the specialist team. He no longer needs it. J can now talk with some functionality (often depending on who, where and why he needs to communicate). He is confident with his PECs and despite not needing it as often he can use makaton/gestures.
He now uses a work station to complete activities. Today he completed 4 in a row without leaving the table once. He could move them from the ‘to do’ basket into the ‘done’ basket, knowing what this means. He likes structure and predictability and this gives it to him. This means he has somewhere to go to learn and develop his skills. Something he can’t do when around others or around distractions and sensory driven environments.
This doesn’t mean the end entirely. The next step is to begin therapy with the community plus team. These are the community speech therapist who have the extra training to support those with additional needs. If I’m honest, I’m scared. I have so much trust and respect for our (now ex) speech therapist and I know that she knew J inside and outside. She fought for him to have the right resources and support. She was the other of the phone every time I needed her. Now not only has J got to build a new relationship but I do too.
Will this new therapist understand J’s need? Will they fight for him? Will they build that relationship (today J wanted our therapist to pick him up and carry him. He doesn’t let just anybody do that!)? Will they put up with my anxieties and fear?
Emotions aside, there’s still work to do and support to be put into place. Now J’s functional speech has developed it’s time to build clarity and sentence structure that will allow him to get his point and needs across understandably. He needs to build his social communication. He needs to develop communication outside of his bubble and realise it’s two way. These are the skills he lacks that are currently stopping him developing relationships and navigating the world around him. He needs these skills for life!
We are also working on prepositions (in, on, under etc) to boost his sentence structure. We are encouraging him to ask questions and adults are modeling asking questions to start encouraging a dialogue and conversation with others. I am continuing to encourage him to use his pecs.
He is great at up to stage 4 pecs. He knows how to use them BUT he struggles with the social side again. J forgets he has to give the sentence strip to the adult and talk TO the adult. He needs reminding to go and use his pecs book to help him when he’s struggling to get his point across. He forgets it’s a tool to be used. It’s up to us adults to remind him it’s there and to use it to show us what’s wrong, what he needs etc.
So, today is a good day. It’s a positive step in the right direction. In fact it’s a great big leap. I am so incredibly proud of our little man. Despite our conversations being very much controlled by J and 9/10 it’s Star Wars related, I still adore hearing his voice. Now to be open to the new path ahead and introduce a new special person into our lives.