I got in from walking the dogs an hour ago and DS has followed me from room to room, chattering incessantly.
‘Mum, where have you been? The dogs are really wet, aren’t they? It’s raining outside. I don’t like the rain because if I go outside I get wet. Mum, do I have to go out today. Can I have a snack?’
He doesn’t require 100% of my attention 100% of the time. 90% of his chat is pure stream of consciousness but he throws in a question now and again just to make sure I am paying him some attention. He has his snack and now has a mouth full of chocolate pancake, but he keeps on talking.
‘Mm, chocolate. I love chocolate. Mum, when’s Easter? Is it tomorrow? How many Easter eggs will I get? I want a really big one. I want one *this* big.’
I stayed up too late last night and had an extra glass of wine. I’m not hungover but my head knows I’ve been drinking and am sleep deprived. I can feel my tolerance for my little chatterbox draining away rapidly.
But part of me recognises how special our son is. He has worked so hard to get to the point where his speech is largely intelligible. When he was two, DS had no words at all. He was diagnosed with a speech delay that was thought to be Verbal Dyspraxia and was facing years of Intensive Speech Therapy. All I could get in terms of prognosis was that progress varies from child to child. I was feeling pretty despondent.
I worried about DS’s future; would he ever learn to talk fluently, would he be able to attend the mainstream school his sisters did, how would he learn to read if he couldn’t make the letter sounds? And I worried about our family; after three neurotypical children, how would we cope with a child with special needs?
But here we are three years later, and all I can say is that we have been lucky. Lucky that we realised there was a problem early on, lucky that I knew where to go to get help and lucky that we live in a Borough that provides quite a bit of help for children with Speech Problems. We’ve had two fantastic speech therapists, a wonderful nursery who assigned him a key worker who went through his exercises with him 3 times a week and a primary school that was eager to have him and was confident they could cope with his needs.
DS has thrived in all these environments and has come on in leaps and bounds. If you met him for the first time today, you might notice his speech was perhaps not as clear as that of other little boys, but it’s really not obvious. He now knows all his sounds and can use them when prompted and so, last week, he had his very last speech therapy session.
Speech Therapy has been such a big part of our lives and DS cried when he hugged his therapist goodbye. Thanks to her, and the one she replaced earlier this year, DS now has the words to express how he feels.
This is what he said. ‘I feel sad all the way down to my tummy. I’ve never felt sad in my tummy before.’