How it feels to have your young child evaluated for speech for the first time
The first time I ever met a speech and language pathologist (SLP), I anxiously waited in a hard-molded, plastic chair designed for toddler proportions. The comedy of trying to stand up for introductions was dampened somewhat by nervous trepidation. What would happen during the upcoming evaluation? What would they find? Why my child? Sitting in that tiny chair only amplified my fear and anxiety — I felt like a helpless child myself.
When my son’s pediatrician recommended we seek out a speech and hearing evaluation at eighteen months, I was surprised. I consider myself a proactive, educated power-mama. How did I not know that Finn’s lack of speech at eighteen months could be that a great a cause for concern? My friends and relatives, though well-meaning, dismissed my concerns as nothing more than a byproduct of over mothering—the problem was not Finn’s lack of sounds and babbling, the problem was his mother’s paranoia.
The SLP began asking Finn’s father and I a host of questions, which I now know to be regular protocol when first meeting with any developmental specialist. “What brings you here today? What are your concerns? What do you consider to be Finn’s strengths?”
“Does he have any words?”
A little sting goes through me every time I have to answer “no” to a question that I’d rather be able to answer “yes.”
A check mark with the red pen. Five points lost.
There are a lot of questions about my pregnancy, his birth and developmental milestones. With milestones, sometimes I would have to guesstimate. I was too busy trying to keep him fed, clothed and healthy to keep track of these details. It all went by in a blink.
Another sting goes through me every time I cannot answer one of their questions because I hadn’t noticed. I start to second-guess myself.
“Do you read books to him?” (Am I not reading enough books to him?)
“Did you eat a lot of sugar while pregnant?” (Did I ingest too much sugar during my pregnancy?)
My confidence in my mothering abilities begins to shrink. I start to feel a little more comfortable sitting in the tiny chair.
After questioning, I watch from a two-way mirror as the speech therapist begins to bring out toys, bubbles and other various baby-testing devices. Finn is having a good time playing with the nice lady who speaks in a high octave voice. I, myself, find her demeanor reassuring. Though she appears young, I am relieved to be seeing someone about this who knows what they are talking about and can hopefully offer some insight.
I root for Finn through the window in a vain attempt to telepathically help him complete each new task the SLP gives him. She encourages him to pretend to feed a baby doll. Finn gives her a look that said, “Are you serious, lady?” and refuses to engage in the game.
After more red check marks, it didn’t take long to score the test. Finn has an expressive speech delay. His speech is that of a six to nine month old child. He is only a year and a half old and he is already a year behind. Speech therapy is recommended. It was the first time that I sat watching my son from behind a mirror in a tiny chair, but it wouldn’t be the last.
It’s been ten months since our first meeting with the SLP. Finn’s speech has improved, but he is still delayed. Things may not be perfect, but I will say, I feel more confident sitting in those tiny seats.
Have you had a similar experience, perhaps even, while sitting in a tiny chair?
Author: Meghan is a student, blogger, and dedicated mommy. She enjoys writing about her eclectic interests including health and wellness, Reality TV, and special needs advocacy.