Speech Therapy Session 1
Here’s what happened in our first session of speech therapy.
The EYCP came in and asked me if there had been any progress, I confirmed there hadn’t. She then showed me a leaflet about playing with Mia. It had a step-by-step list to make sure she is engaged (e.g. make sure she has eye contact).
Next she asked me if Mia had any favourite toys. I got out her velco fruit and veg from her kitchen as it’s very rare she resists an opportunity to play with those. We played with those for a while pulling them apart and sticking them back together (we were saying “snap!” When we pulled them apart). She was playing really nicely which pleased me as she runs around a lot. Usually she’s in and out of different rooms all the time. After a few minutes she did run off so I got out some bubbles. Mia adores bubbles. The problem is then getting her away from them. All we were basically doing was blowing bubbles and asking if she wanted more and saying “pop!” When they burst. Mia got quite agitated when the bubbles wouldn’t work at one point and the EYCP asked if this was normal. I said it would be if they’d not worked for a long time but Mia had been up since 4am so I suspected she was tired.
The sessions are only 30 minutes so it was all very quick.
Things that others may find useful
Let your child lead play, sometimes just sit and copy them. Parents often take over and lead play.
Sign is good: I was worried if I used sign it would give her an excuse not to talk but as she has so few words it’s at least a form of communication. I also have some PEC cards so I’m going to use them too.
I talk too much, I “fill her silence” and don’t give her enough time to try and speak. I use a lot of words and need to shorten my sentences. This is something I was aware of as I do talk quickly. It was a bit like taking a bullet hearing this but I just have to suck it up and work on it if it’s going to help Mia.
Worried they’re thinking along ASD lines: she asked if she got upset easily (ASD marker) and I spoke about her fussy eating (another marker)
The EYCP also said that next time she was going to try and get Mia to make eye contact with her. Now this one I’m on the fence about, because I’m quite shy and don’t look new people in the eye at first and to my mind (perhaps I’m wrong though 🤷) Mia gives ME eye contact. Anyway we’ll see what happens with that. I suspect Mia will do that when she’s ready.
A lady came to play with us the other day. I’m not really sure why she was there but she asked Mama a lot of questions and she built towers for me to knock down. She also made cool scrunchy sounds with my kitchen things and watched when we blew bubbles. I think she said she might bring some toys with her next time so that should be interesting. I like looking at new toys.
Mia’s speech therapy journey is about to begin, before it does I am going to document how I’m feeling and how we got here.
Needing Speech Therapy
I’ve been worried about Mia’s speech since she was around 15 months. She just wasn’t at the same level as her peer group. I spoke to the Health Visitors at 18 months and was told that there is often a ‘speech explosion’ between 18 months and 2. This ‘explosion’ certainly happened for many of her cohort, but unfortunately not us. Most days Mia says very little. She may say “No” and “Dada” features fairly regularly. She can also say “Mama” and there are other words I have heard her say (hello, dog, wow) but these have been one-offs.
At the two year review, we discussed her lack of vocabulary and it was agreed that she was behind. The next day I received a phone call from an ‘early years care practitioner’ and we arranged an appointment at home. This was basically asking me the same questions as the two year review (but I understand that). We live in Bath & North East Somerset and the EYCP is not allowed to refer to full speech therapy (I think this is designed to try and cut the waiting list). Instead we have a 5 week short course before we can receive a referral to full speech therapy. This starts a week on Monday.
How’s Mama Feeling?
I feel excited, hopeful, apprehensive and dubious all at the same time. Whilst I would dearly love for this to be the magic key that unlocks my girl’s language, I am dubious. After 2 years of me talking, playing, reading and singing to her how is 5 weeks of playing with someone else is going to make any difference? On the other hand, I am not a speech therapist and I can’t say that my sole aim in playing with her has been to elicit speech. Perhaps what they will do will encourage her, maybe she will try some new sounds, who knows?
The problem is I am very wary of pinning all my hopes on this and then being heartbroken. For me it is better to believe that nothing will change. Of course I will do whatever they ask of me as ‘homework’ and try to replicate the session with her on my own. I would be delighted to be surprised if anything does change. I am the world’s most impatient person, so this has been a huge struggle for me personally.
Mama says a lady is going to come to our house and play with me. That’s all very well but I hope she brings her own toys. My toys are mine and I don’t want them messed up. I display them all over the floor in my own special way. If she plays good games then that’s OK by me. I’m not sure why she’s coming to play with me, something to do with talking no doubt. I’ll see if she’s got any good stuff and I’ll give it a go.
Mia is a late talker. At 22 months she says around half a dozen words. There are around a billion articles on ‘what to do’, but not much about how it feels.
This blog is inspired by writing from another Mama that touched me because it was so honest.
I feel I should caveat this piece by saying it will probably come across as melodramatic, I’m sure it will mildly annoy some and positively offend others. There are far bigger issues that people face and the likelihood is that Mia will eventually catch up. I don’t believe there are any signs of an underlying medical condition, so as people deal with baby loss and autism and childhood cancers, this is trivial.
On the other hand you will see I list loneliness on the list of how this feels, so if no one writes about it, how are people supposed to stop feeling alone?
Honestly, most of the time, you settle into calm acceptance that your child will talk when they want or need to, it’s very unlikely there’s anything serious wrong and in 10 years time no one will know they didn’t speak until they were 2…or 3…then
The silence is deafening.
You’d give anything to hear just a sound other than your own worries on a loop in your head.
- Like you’re so frustrated you want to put your head through a wall.
- Speaking of walls you may as well be talking to one. It doesn’t matter how many books you read and songs you sing, zero progress is made.
- I am sick of the sound of my own voice. I have to listen to myself chatter complete nonsense about the cars on the road, the weather and what sound a duck makes, all day with no feedback. It’s exhausting. You feel desperate.
- It feels very lonely, like everyone else’s kid speaks in sentences (definitely not true before 2!) And yours is so far behind there is no hope of her ever catching up.
- It makes you want to leave a Mama group you have been a member of since you were pregnant, because watching videos of other people have conversations with their kids who is the same age as yours makes your heart hurt.
- Like others posting such things are rubbing your nose in it, showing off their more advanced child.
- Next you feel like a bad person, for feeling upset about someone sharing the joy of a child’s progress.
- Then you feel awful because your child is healthy and there are bigger issues in the world than the fact she doesn’t say “Hi Mama”.
- You can’t get excited if they say anything new because the next day it will be like it never happened and you’ll be back to square one. Hopeless is the word I guess.
- “Oh, you’ll wish she’d shut up when she starts talking”. Will I? Seriously?! When all I want to hear her say is “Mama” for 22 months I’m going to wish she didn’t?! People said that with walking. It was rubbish. I still love watching her toddle about because I waited a long time and worried so much.
When she does talk, which I’m sure she will, she will choose her words carefully. They will be significant; carefully measured out to deliver her message correctly. She will change the world with her words; she will move mountains. I see greatness in her, her eyes and her gestures tell me she is watching; taking everything in and calculating. Always thinking. When those sweet little lips do decide to give us the gift of her perfect voice, I’ll be waiting. And it will be the sweetest sound I’ve ever heard.