His first day of group speech therapy was pretty disastrous. He couldn't sit still, he kept fussing, wanting his bottle, wanting to get on the floor... I was thinking, He cannot do this. He is not ready. This is for, like, big kids. He has the mentality of a baby. He can't even sit in the chairs. He can't sit and listen. He can't do these activities. He can't do any of this! This is a huge mistake.
The therapists assured me that every kid's first day looks like a hot mess. I suspected that they were just trying to make me feel better.
But over the next few sessions, the more I talked with our group therapist, Monica, the more I started to come around out of my haze of he can't do this. For starters, we got him a chair with a buckle so he didn't have to sit in my lap. Monica started outlining some goals for Henry. She would tell me things like, "He's making good eye contact. We can work on getting him to direct his gaze to follow someone or something." And, "He's doing a lot of babbling, we can work on encouraging him to imitate sounds." When we would do activities with the other kids, she would say "Henry's goal is just to ______," basically simplifying the activity to something reasonable for him to do.
When I started speech therapy with Henry, I was so hung up on all the things he couldn't do and how incredibly long I imagined his journey to being able to communicate would be. I kept thinking some kids like Henry never talk, and that made me afraid. And the fear clouded my ability to see what Monica could see.
This is what I love about working with our therapists. Not just Monica, but all of them. When they look at Calvin and Henry, they see what they can do right now and what they can learn to do next.
Their view is not clouded by fear or anything else. They care about Calvin and Henry, they want to see them grow and succeed, but they don't have all the emotional baggage that I carry for my kids.
They are not trying to look decades into the future. They are looking at the next step. What can we work on right now?
And it's so important for me to be reminded on a regular basis of what they can do right now and what they can learn to do next. I need to hear those things to help me shake off the fear. To bring my focus back to the present.
As I think about Calvin getting ready to start preschool and start work with a new speech therapist I hope sincerely that these new professionals in our life will be able to do the same. I hope they will see all that he is capable of, and his potential to learn.
I am very grateful to all the therapists working with my kids now and those we have worked with in the past. Thank you for helping Calvin and Henry and thank you for helping me.