Buddy will be two in less than a week. Since he is not really talking, his therapists put in for a speech evaluation. She arrived 20 minutes late and stayed less than half an hour. She interacted with him very little and asked me few questions. One question she did ask is what have we done for speech so far with his therapists. I answered that his OT and DT have not focused on this as that it is not their area, but that we do some signing and PECS. PECS, in our case, were lots of little pictures from things in our daily life that were Velcroed into folder pages where Bud could pick between choices, a way to begin communication without words. Bud was too interested in the Velcro. All he wanted to do was rip rip rip the Velcro and toss the pictures. It was a fun sensory activity,though! The speech evaluator responded without missing a beat by saying ”the PECS didn’t not work, it was that the therapist who did it with you obviously did it wrong and was incompetent and not certified. I am certified and know how to us this properly.” Wow. It gets worse, though.
I love our DT and she does a great job. I felt it quite condescending to speak that way when she didn’t even know who our therapist was, yet she insulted her anyway. Ms. Snarky Evaluator then went on to say signs are a waste of time. I explained how he does more, and she said there is absolutely no way he can know what an abstract word like more means. Well, I don’t know if Bud fully defines more using a dictionary definition, but I do know that he signs more when he wants more food, more turns at his toy, or more of tackling daddy. I also know that within weeks of beginning to use the sign for more, he began saying more. Sure doesn’t seem like a waste of time to me. In fact, I remember crying tears of joy the first time Bud and I communicated back and forth, and more was our first.
Since she was not asking a lot of questions, I offered that while Buddy doesn’t speak, he definitely understands much of what we say as he follows directions and commands. She had the gall to insist that he does not know much of anything we say, but that he just follows cues from our body. I asked, “so whey I say ‘want to take a bath’ and use no signs or verbal cues and we are downstairs, and he goes to the stairs to go up to the bath, or runs to the bathroom if we are already upstairs, he doesn’t know I just said ‘wanna take a bath?’” She quickly retorted that it was probably because we ask at the same time each night. My inner Mama Bear is calling B.S. He doesn’t even take a bath every day, let alone at the same time.
I KNOW my boy understand me. I have countless examples, and more to add on each day. Once, Bud was playing with a puzzle on the floor, and I was telling my husband that I was going to leave for work now. I was not looking at, talking to, or cuing Bud, and he immediately got up and cried and reached his arms out for me because he did not want me to leave. My inner Mama Bear snaps “Take That!” to Ms. Snarky Evaluator. This woman had never met my son, yet felt free to say everything we have done is a waste. She added that ”with a lot of hard work he has the potential to be teachable,” though to what extent and with what quality she was unsure. I would not pretend to know more than a professional about speech techniques and such, but I do know more about my son. The other therapists know my son, too, and have seen much progress and been nothing but positive. They value my input as his parent and we work as a team.
I am so grateful that Ms. S.E. was not my first experience in the early intervention program. Her negativity and condescension would have pushed me over the edge at a time when I was so scared and confused, broken-hearted and overwhelmed. Instead, I didn’t let her get me down. I simply went through the motions with her to get the signature we needed to add weekly speech therapy for my son with a therapist who will actually care more about Buddy than spouting off her own credentials and discrediting the work done by others.
Ms. Snark did not say my son was unintelligent, but it felt like she was almost insinuating it. I feel this from people sometimes, people that do not know him well. He cannot talk, or people just hear the phrase ”developmental delay” and automatically think he is slow or unintelligent. For the record, I would love him and embrace his unique strengths if he was cognitively disabled, and I believe all children with such a disability have their own strengths and intelligence. That being said, delayed does not mean he is not smart! I want to focus on what he CAN do, not dwell on what he cannot. My son is delayed, yes, but he is also clever, sly, flirty, silly, sweet, stubborn, active, destructive, determined, loving…and very very loved.
As an end note, I have to add that the very next day, Bud picked up a picture of an apple from his PECS and said “apple” clear as day. He says it all day long, likely due to the rousing applause he gets each time. He has also said ball, book, and bub (bubbles), though not as frequently as the beloved apple. The same night as Snark night, he came to me with his jack-in-the-box, sat down next to me, popped it open, then signed more because he wanted me to help him close it so he could make it pop again, more play as we say in our house. Inner Mama Bear peeked out again and sang “nanny nanny boo boo” to Ms. Snark.