When we moved to Florida one of the challenges I knew we would face would be finding new therapists for Mason. There's a process: see your Primary Care Physician and request a referral, wait for the referral, schedule an appointment with the referred therapist, have an evaluation of child's development, schedule regular therapy sessions, begin therapy.
It's pretty straightforward, but this always exhausts me. Yes, bringing all of my children to an appointment is a challenge, and that in itself can be tiring. But, the evaluations with therapists are what I most dread. For thirty minutes to an hour, I'm forced to think on all the ways that my child is not like other children his age. Questions are asked like, "Does he distinguish between objects in a group?" "How many words can he say?" "When he plays with toys does he use them appropriately?"
Then, we move onto the observation of Mason's behavior. Inwardly I try to will Mason to point to the right picture when asked to find the cookie or the ball. I know he knows what these things are, but to point to it? We're not there yet. Instead, he finds the baby on the page and gives it a big wet tongue kiss. (Insert very proud Mommy moment here because this obviously shows how much Mason loves people!)
The evaluation ends, and even though I know what the therapist is going to say hearing the words, "So, the test results show that there is a severe delay in his development," still hurts.
In that moment I have a choice to make: dwell on the delay or think of how far he's come and keep pushing forward to help him. I'll be honest. Some days I dwell on the delays. Maybe this will always be a struggle. But, can I just tell you that God has been so good! He is making it easier and easier for me to rejoice and move forward. The psychologists would probably call this acceptance; I'm going to call it grace. And I'm ever so grateful for the strength God gives.
Last week was Mason's second speech evaluation since we arrived here. The first clinic had a waiting list of 4-6 weeks. Since we're only living her until December, I didn't want to wait that long to get him started. I was able to find another clinic, very close to Isabella's school, and he starts speech therapy there this morning. I instantly liked his therapist when I saw that we had the same sandals. The evaluation process and her way with Mason really sealed the deal for me; I think she's going to be great.
Yesterday I shared about Mason's physical developments over the summer. Up today:
Comprehension. Mason understands so much! I can tell him to go get his shoes and he does. He starts heading for the stairs when I tell him it's nap time. Just in the past few days when I ask if he's stinky, he'll point to his diaper. (And I even think he said diaper a few times). He may not respond with words when asked a question, but his facial expressions communicate his excitement, his disagreement, and his confusion.
Body Parts. We've been working on these for months. This summer, he's finally gotten some down. He can now point to his belly, head, nose (or my nose) and mouth. Occasionally he does hands, and I'm really trying to work with him on feet. It helps that Jennavieve is almost on the same level now, so we can work on these things together. She keeps pushing him to learn more.
Animal Sounds. There's still some confusion as to what is and is not an elephant, but Mason can definitely tell you what a dog says, sometimes an elephant--complete with trunk raised and all--, and last night he said 'moo' for the first time. Even though they aren't words, it's part of the speech development process and we cheer and jump up and down when he acquires something new. Many times our animal sessions end with a dance party to 'What does the fox say' (per the request of my two oldest children).
Words. Most of Mason's words are just grunts. This is tiring. And now Jennavieve has picked up on it. We're working hard with both of them to replace the grunting with something else, whether sign language or an actual word. Mason can sign 'please' and 'more', and he says 'Daddy' distinctly. When he starts calling me Mommy we're going on vacation, or something. I can't wait to hear him say my name. I can't tell for sure, but I think he calls Jennavieve 'Dede'. This week I've been trying to have him distinguish between eat and drink. It's pretty obvious when he stands at the fridge grunting, that he wants a drink, but now he's actually signing it and making the 'd' sound.
Mason has a long way to go before he's using words appropriately. But you know what? I know he gets it. He knows what's happening around him. He understands us. He tries to tell me things, and even though he doesn't use the right sounds, he communicates with me. While I look forward to the day when he can say words and speak in sentences, there's also something special about this secret language he and I have. It's rewarding when he grunts, I translate, he smiles and waves his arms, and I know that we've understood one another.
I love this little monkey. I love him just the way he is. Even if he never says my name, he knows I'm his Mommy. And I pray that he will always feel how much he is loved and how proud we are to have him as our son.