With all of my experience working with blind babies and children, I thought I was prepared for motherhood. And then Robby was born, and within 10 hours we learned that he had failed his hearing test in his right ear. After several attempts, the hospital said that he was okay but needed to be rechecked in a few months. My Mommy instincts have been telling me that something is wrong.
Robby is now four and we are still trying to grasp the extent and implications of his hearing issues. We are scheduled for more audiological evaluations in the fall and, although we are hoping for good news, it is obvious that there are issues that need to be addressed immediately. Robby was a delayed talker and his speech is difficult to decipher.
I become defensive when it comes to Robby's speech issues. Although my special education experience has taught me the opposite is true, my "Mommy heart" continues to believe that perhaps I am doing something wrong. I suppose that blaming ourselves for our children's developmental "hiccups" is a universal practice among mothers.
This is my last year with Robby until he enters kindergarten, and I am feeling the pressure start to mount. I know that I have 14 months, but I am dreading his first day of school. The thought of him getting on a bus and leaving home brings tears to my eyes. This is going to be an emotional year.
I want him to be as prepared for kindergarten as possible. I want him to be comfortable and confident. I want him to be nice to others and to make friends. I want him to know that his opinion and thoughts have value, and that he needs to listen to others. I don't want him to be ridiculed because of his speech issues.
Scott and I have decided that Robby needs speech intervention. Luckily, I knew exactly who to call. Vicki and I met nearly 10 years ago when we had students in common. She is not only the best speech therapist I know but also is a terrific friend. Vicki is such a good friend that she agreed to help with Robby but scoffed when we offered to pay her. She was emphatic that she would only accept Chick Fil-A nuggets and my homemade Blueberry Buckle for payment.
Robby and I met with Vicki last night for our first "informal" lesson. We are beginning with the "F" sound because that is the most tactile. After making the sound several times in front of Robby, I asked him to try. He tried but succeeded in only spitting in my face and spewing the remnants of a chewed french fry in my hair. Perhaps Chick Fil-A was not ideal location for a speech lesson.
I was given two homework assignments to work on with Robby during the next week. We will continue practicing the "F" sound, and Scott and I need to deliberately slow down and enunciate our speech. It feels unnatural trying to speech at a slower rate, but Robby is missing a lot of the sounds because we are speaking too quickly. Slowing down is supposed to help him hear the sounds that he is not emulating.
Last night I was determined to speak slower. Scott and I were cognizant of our speed as we spoke not only to Robby but to each other. My mom thought I sounded a bit odd until we explained the rationale. She promised to help when she is around Robby.
Robby has not grasped the purpose behind our slower speech, but he has certainly picked up on the change. He has begun copying our exaggeratedly slow speech patterns. Now I have a little boy mispronouncing words and spitting with every "f" sounds all while speaking like a robot whose batteries are dying.
Actually, I should amend that--I now have a four year old boy, still in diapers because he has a severe poop phobia, who is talking like a lethargic, spit-spraying robot with a speech delay. Just when I wanted to pull my saliva soaked hair out, he told me that we are "best buddies" and gave me an unsolicited hug. That sweet statement has made all of this frustration worth it!
- I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.