I have to take a moment and share a huge praise moment with y’all! As I was putting Beau down for his nap on Friday, he told me he wanted to read “Brown Bear”. I told him to get the book so we could read it together. Much to my surprise, he began reading it himself and read the entire thing to me – cover to cover! This is a huge deal and so very special to me because “Brown Bear” is the book he would work on in Speech Therapy. I am so unbelievably thankful for this huge speech spurt in my little guy! We tried to recreate the moment for his Daddy…check it out below!
I’m going to rewind and share one of my most upward trudges I’ve endured in my motherhood walk.
No parent ever wants to hear that anything is “wrong” with their child. In a parents eyes, their child is perfect, and being told otherwise can make a parent feel like any shortcoming is their fault. This is exactly how I felt when I was told that Beau was struggling with his speech and would need speech therapy. This diagnosis felt like a personal attack on me and my mothering. Did his doctor think that I don’t talk to Beau enough? Did they assume that I don’t read to him every day? Did they think that I didn’t spend my free time playing with him and trying to teach him vocabulary? I felt like a failure of a parent telling myself that sometime in my precious boys short little life I must have done something wrong and now he was suffering the consequences of it.
I was constantly on the rebound, letting anyone who remarked on his speech know everything that I was doing as his mother to help him with his speech from the books we read to the games we played with. I wanted it to be known that I was doing my part, instead of just accepting this little guy for who God created him to be, and having confidence in the mother God made me to be.
This journey started at Beau’s one year wellness checkup when his doctor showed concern for his speech progression. At that point, Beau was saying “Mama”, “Dada”, “Dog” and “Baba”, which we generously counted as the word “bottle”. With him being my first child and not having another child to compare him to, I thought he was doing great! I heard what his doctor said but didn’t think much of it. I wondered how much more other one year old’s could be saying, and how it was possible to diagnose a “problem” at such a young age. I chalked his slow speech up to him being a boy – an active boy – who was more focused on learning new physical skills rather than verbal skills. He was already running and climbing both wood and carpeted stairs. He was advanced in mobility for what he lacked verbally.
At Beau’s 18 month wellness checkup, again, his doctor showed concern for his speech. He still had a limited vocabulary, but he was definitely saying more over those next 6 months. I looked at any growth as positive, but his doctor said he wasn’t hitting the benchmarks he needed to be hitting verbally. She advised us to keep at it and said we’d revisit the topic at his two year appointment.
Those six months flew by and his speech still wasn’t where it needed to be. We were advised to get him evaluated by the state to see if we could get funded help for his speech. We thought it was a little crazy because he was making every effort to say words, but just wasn’t saying them correctly. The state saw what we saw and denied him funded help.
Patrick and I decided to hold off from out of pocket speech therapy and instead put Beau into a half day of schooling 2 times per week. We thought being around other kids could help to jump start his vocabulary, but it actually did the opposite. We found out at our first parent-teacher conferences that Beau wasn’t talking at school – at all. This lead one of his teachers to speculate that he could be on the spectrum of autism, a condition she was familiar with as her son had the same diagnosis. Until that moment, I had been in a bit of denial. I didn’t really think Beau had a problem speaking, I just thought he was a little slower than other kids. I knew his teacher wasn’t a doctor, so I turned to his doctor to ask her opinion. I was a little blown away when she responded “Well, when a child is slow to speak, yes we always have to consider that as an option.” She did however go on to say that in her professional opinion, she didn’t believe Beau to be autistic, but also added that they couldn’t rule it out just yet.
After this revelation, we found a lovely speech therapist through a neighbor. Miss Joy was a total joy! She came to our home twice a week, and Beau absolutely loved working with her! I shouldn’t even say “working”, because it was more like playing! They read books, did puzzles and played games. She always had new toys so he always stayed intrigued, and all the while, she was pulling new sounds and words from him! She diagnosed his speech issue as more habitual tendencies. He could make all the sounds she wanted him to make for his age, but when it came time to putting the sounds together in words, he always regressed back to his usual tendencies. She told us it was just going to take a lot of repetition and annunciation. Miss Joy went to school with Beau one day to assess his disconnect there. Through her we found out that Beau was speaking when it came to defending himself against other kids. He would say “no” or “mine” if another child tried to take what he was playing with. However, when it came to circle time, Beau refused to talk. He wouldn’t say his name and he wouldn’t attempt the words that Miss Joy knew he was capable of saying because she had heard him say them. She assessed that he was shy, and maybe lacking the confidence to speak in front of his peers because he may have recognized he wasn’t as strong at this skill as his classmates. Hearing this broke my motherly heart in two! My sweet baby boy was just scared to talk at school!
This finding came at an interesting time – Patrick was also struggling with his words and speech while in his first year at Graduate School. This man who relied on his physical skills, using his body to get his job done in the NFL, was now having to rely on his verbal skills to get the job done at school. He was in a time of realization that his physical skills weren’t going to help him attain his next career, but his verbal skills would. He could identify with his little boy in a way he never could before! Patrick piecing this together was such a help for me as Beau’s mother because Patrick was able to verbalize what Beau couldn’t, and suddenly I understood! Having his Dad there to verbalize his fears, I could be more empathetic and patient and ultimately more encouraging when I’d witness him step outside of his shell.
When Beau turned three, I was so excited to take him to his wellness checkup! I knew his doctor would be so proud of all he accomplished in the past year! She was indeed proud, but still suggested we turn to the state funded program, which is easier to get accepted for when still struggling with speech at age three. We made calls but failed to get in touch with anyone before heading out of the country for a three week vacation to Europe.
I don’t know when, and I don’t know how, but sometime on that trip, Beau found his words and has been talking so much better ever since! People always told me his speech would blossom overnight, and y’all it straight up blossomed overnight! One day I noticed it, and that evening Patrick vocalized the change, we both saw it, but have no idea what to credit it to!
When we got back to the United States and Beau started school again, his teachers were amazed at his growth in the month we were away! Friends and family were constantly commenting on how much better Beau was talking and how much easier he was to understand. Everything about him changed! He no longer clung to us when being dropped off at school, he instead ran right in the door, excited to get to his classroom! He started singing songs with the TV and radio and eventually he started to sing songs without any prompting. I don’t think him stringing words together in song will ever get old! It is truly music to my ears!
While I don’t know what exactly to credit Beau’s speech spurt to, I’ll take a guess and say it was a healthy mix of everything! It was exposing him to other kids his age so he could learn and grow from and with them, it was diagnosing his challenges through speech therapy, and continuing to work on them every chance we got. It was exposing him to the right television programs that encourage speech and song, and placing the right learning toys in his hands to develop from and be challenged by.
If someone you know has a child who struggles with their speech, please share this post with them. You can’t even imagine how defeating a struggle with speech can be until you are walking it. I pray my words written here can help be a light of hope on their otherwise dark path.
I am so unbelievably proud of my little boy! He has worked hard and it shows! His speech isn’t perfect by any means, but it was grown leaps and bounds! We continue to work on it every day, and he honestly is like a whole new little boy! I guess I should say “big boy”…one day I called him “my baby” and he said, “Mama, I’m not a baby, I’m a big boy! I can talk now!” Yes, indeed, my boy CAN talk now!
With that, I’m going to end this post by sharing my personal Top 5 Beau-isms…which are his crafty little ways he has of saying things! I find such perfection in the imperfection of these 🙂
5.) “Fire Truck Man” = Fireman
4.) “Where’s my baby?” = Where’s Greta
3.) “Gasp! The sun woke up and the moon went night night” = It’s time for all of us to wake up now
2.)”I want my window in the tunnel!” = I want my window down
1.) “My head is getting dizzy” = I’m getting tired
Be Blessed + Be A Blessing