by the other theo
Starting the Peanut over with a new speech therapist was surprisingly tough on me.
While he was successfully working with his last therapist, I tended to focus on just that, the success. Oh, he spontaneously tried a new word the other day. He tries to imitate sounds more than he used to. He said “help please, Daddy” without prompting. He said “I love you, Daddy” with some prompting from the Missus. Given where he was even six months ago, that seems like amazing progress.
When the Peanut is with someone new, it is much more obvious how far he needs to go. He speaks very few words. He has trouble pronouncing certain sounds. He doesn’t make that much eye contact. He relies on gestures and ASL signs to communicate. I can generally tell what he wants or needs. How long and how far do we have to go before the Peanut can meet a stranger and communicate what he wants? Though it’s a mountain we’ve started to climb, I can’t see the summit of it yet.
My soul felt bruised by the process. This is my child. As much as I see him as the healthy, vital, intelligent kid that he is on the inside, he has some serious special needs. They’re fixable to a large extent, and thank God for that. I still ask the questions that all parents probably ask when their children have problems: Is this my fault? Is this something I did? Is it because I was too old? I just felt a twinge of angst the rest of that day we saw the first therapist. It’s a feeling I hope has a name, but I don’t know the word. Like schadenfreude or weltschmerz, it’s probably one of those moods that have name in French or German or Russian, but not English.
A bright moment from both the days when we saw new therapists last week came when the Peanut spelled his name, saying the letters as I wrote them down for him. They were both very impressed with that. Like I said, we feel that the Peanut is a pretty smart kid behind that wall of apraxia. That he knows his letters and numbers much like other smart kids his age just proves that “special needs” and “smart” are (or can be) two entirely different attributes.