A Language Development Journey
This started out as just an Instagram post about how excited and proud I was that Easton was graduating speech therapy today but I kept writing and writing. So at first I thought I should stop and just get to the point, but I had more I wanted to say! There's two reasons I didn't want to cut chunks out of his story to fit a social media post. First, because it is the first time that I've talked about his speech struggles and I'd love to be able to tell the full story so that you have a true understanding of what I miracle I think this kid is. The second reason is the thought of helping another parent who is feeling hopeless, helpless, and heartbroken for their kid who is just starting or going through their own journey with language development.
So here I go...
When he was still two we realized this wasn’t going to get better. We started having him tested for therapy needs. Two sweet ladies came to our house and played with Easton for over an hour and I was biting my nails in the corner the whole time. She'd ask him questions and I felt my heart bottom out each time he couldn't get the answer. That first exam showed that he had the articulation of a 10 month old... at 2! And his understanding of language was only a little bit better than that. When someone tells you that he doesn't even understand the word "mom" means, it devastating to say the least. You know it’s bad but you don’t know how bad until someone puts in perspective like that.
He just wasn't picking up language as naturally as kids are supposed at that age. Especially after having Sienna develop normally first, I definitely didn't think that sitting down with flash cards going over and over who mom is was something I had to do but that's exactly what we did! We worked and worked on identification. He was never going to talk if he didn't even know what the words were. We didn't care if he talked, we just wanted him to be able to point out things correctly when we asked him to show us something. Once he was able to do that, we felt ready to tackle speech therapy.
I remember walking into our speech pathologist’s office on the first day of his classes and having her talk to us about the extent of his delay. He dropped the beginning part of each word so they all sounded exactly the same ( Think “at” - it stood for at, cat, hat, bat, etc so no one had any idea what he was actually saying.) and how she had never seen that before. Because it was so extensive, we were already prepared for how he was going to continue his speech classes once he started kindergarten in two years and so on. We were prepared for a long road.
He started last school year and immediately loved it! Loved working with his teacher and practicing at home. Never once complaining and excited to show off each new skill! Even when I had to work, he would sit in his room and practice his sounds on his iPad.
My proudest moment of Easton will be ingrained in me forever. We have always taken classes at The Little Gym and at the beginning of each class they go around the room and each kid says their name. For two years it was a sad part of our experience. He loved the class but he would watch each kid proudly say their name knowing he wouldn't be able to say his. He would always try for a while but each time I would have to say his name when no one knew what he said. Then for a little bit before we started therapy he wouldn't say anything at all. Once he started speech, his name relatively quickly went from "E" to "Ee" to "Easie" to "Easton". The day we walked into that tumbling class, waited for his turn in the circle, and proudly called out "Easton!!" clear and confident without me having to repeat it to be understood was the best day I could ever dream of. I almost lost it on that mat.
He has come such a long way in a short amount of time in just over a year. From the three year old who couldn’t say a single intelligible word except for “no” (go figure!) to the four year old who has made so much progress that he has to stop services already. When we came back from summer break this school year, his teacher was astounded! She said "I don't even know who this kid is! Are you sure you didn't take any speech lessons over the summer?!" And the answer was no! Just one dedicated little boy willing to work and work until everyone could understand him.
What everyone had planned on being a three or four year process, took him one year and one month. And that's why he's a miracle. It was always plain to see that he did not think being misunderstood. You could see and hear his obvious frustration. But instead of letting it keep him down, he worked harder than any three year old I've ever seen. He was going to make sure his voice was heard. And he is!
Congratulations Easton! We love you and couldn't be prouder!
Mom, Dad, & Sienna
We couldn't have done any of it without Easton's amazing speech pathologist. She will also be very dear to our family and we'll be forever grateful. Also, a special shout out to the best big sister, Sienna, for always reminding him to say things correctly and to keep working. She's his biggest cheerleader.