Well, it's taken over 30 months, but Bobby has started speaking up, and I am so proud of him. SO proud of him. We're still a work in progress, of course, but to say leaps and bounds of changes are happening almost seems to not say enough.
From the eval on Feb 27th through his first speech appt last week and his second today, we've seen so many positive steps from our little big guy. It's quite the big deal here at Casa Haytko!
Yesterday, for the first time ever, Bobby said "hello". It's typical when someone walks in that Maya will greet them with "Hello NAME". In her cute, sing songy voice, it's "Hello Mama", "Hello Daddy", etc. Bobby will run and knock you over with a hug and that wide mouthed smile, but usually quietly. Yesterday, we were on the deck playing when Peter came home from work and as nonchalantly as if he says it every day, Bobby looked up and said "Hello". We just stared at each other with our chins on the ground. He had run off and was playing, while we were still saying "DID YOU HEAR THAT???" to each other.
This morning, when I asked the kids "What would you like for breakfast?" (and, honestly, expecting Maya to respond, which is the norm), Bobby, from across the room, said "Cereal." Normally, he will bring us to whatever it is he wants, so it isnt as though he hasnt communicated with us. But not today. Today, he wanted cereal and he told us so.
There are other changes too. He's gone from never giving a yes or no answer, to saying "Yes" and shaking his head 'no'. When given a choice between two things, he'll say the one he wants. If asked if he wants one thing and he does, he'll respond "yes". He's told me "I love you." He said, in church, and pointing above the altar "I see... I see... I see Jesus!" (Can I admit that I'm tearing up right now??? My son is now going on three years old and he's finally talking and it brings me to tears to see how happy he is to finally be able to communicate.) When he is thirst, he asks for a cup instead of just banging on the fridge. He says "snack" when snack time is approaching or he is hungry beforehand.
Today, when J (his therapist) was singing "Ring Around the Rosie" and he wanted to play, he would say "ashes, ashes" (as in "ashes, ashes, we all fall down"). But, on top of that, he took part in the play and, at the time he was to fall down, he did. Repeatedly. This isnt the norm for him; he'd run around in circles all day, but following direction for play or playing like that just hasnt been this thing (it's not my thing either, so there was never any judgement on that from us), but now he is. And liking it! She also sang/mimed "Wheels on the Bus" (which we dont do) and he let her do it with him. Big deal; he's never been much of a stranger person, yet he was in her lap today and playing with her. And, after they did "Itsy Bitsy Spider", he walked to the loveseat and SANG IT/mimed it himself. Yes... He sang the song. Were all the words clear? No, but we all knew what he was doing and so did he, and you should have seen him grin when he was done and we all clapped.
We've noticed his frustration is getting better. He still has issues and meltdowns, but he's getting better. He's trying harder to communicate first and act out second. He's playing with kids in playdates more, rather than just playing around them. Some of that is age appropriate advancement, but some of it is clearly communication oriented as well.
It hasn't even been a month, but already we've seen huge strides and improvements; even J was suprised. I told her that I simply hadnt expected changes this suddenly and she explained that it was really a good sign, that it showed he has the capacity for language and development but just wasnt using it before and now just needs to learn it. But he's showing us that he CAN learn it.
In more positive news, he's mimicing in some ways, both physical and verbal. He'll bring me things so that I can identify them and then he'll repeat them (avocado toy was the big one yesterday), and he is interacting with adults he doesnt see often better. (Perhaps because he feels like he may be able to better communicate with them?)
I dont want to imply that it's all sunshine and rainbows. We have our moments. Some of them are because there are hard therapy techniques too. Physically, they arent so bad, but emotionally- on us and him- they suck. The worst is the taking away of a toy in order to garner a response (such as "No" or "Mine" or "Give it back", etc). In this therapy, we take a toy that Bobby has been playing with (not in a mean way or by snatching it, but it is clearly in the vein of him still wanting it). He will respond, usually with a tad of anger, by trying to take it back. We ask him to tell us he wants it. He can do anything (and is told this) like say the item's name ("block") or show possession ("mine") or express unhappiness ("no") or even give a command ("give it"). One word, two words, three words- it doesnt matter. He just has to verbally demand for his toy. It's not a fun exercise. It's heartbreaking, especially when you see him wanting to express and simply being unable to. This doesnt go to the point of complete meltdown before we put the toy down, soothe him with words of understanding and encouragement, hug him, and let him go back to play. We only do this once a day (any more and I dont think that I could handle it).
The other day, however, was a day that I just wanted to bawl. Maya, Bobby, and I were in the playroom, having a blast. He walked up to me, took my face in his hands, and stared at me, mouth parted. I could see in his eyes that he had the words in his mind and was trying with all that he had to get them to emit from his mouth. After a few moments, he sighed and just laid his head on my shoulder. Pulling him into a hug, I told him that I knew it was tough but that he was working so hard and he was so smart that one day, I promised, he'd be able to tell me everything that floated through his mind. But that I knew... I knew how hard it was... and that I was sorry. A few moments went by and then he was back playing with Maya. And I had to step out, into the kitchen, and let the tears fall without him seeing. Because it is such an utterly helpless feeling... an empty feeling... when you cant help your child. When that's all you want, more than anything in the world, and you just.cant.do.a.damn.thing.
We have other things too. He'll still destroy castles or toss all of Maya's tea setting in the floor. But we are working on it. And, when he did it yesterday, I held onto him and he put things back on the table. Not everything. But some things. And that's a big step.
Every day is a new day and, although they each bring new challenges, they are also bringing us new bursts of sunlight in this new stage of the game. A special thanks to all of the comments, suggestions, and stories of folks who have overcome speech issues from childhood and gone on to have successful speaking lives! I appreciate the encouragement!