“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”—Robert H. Schuller
Well, it finally happened…we had gotten ourselves kicked out of our first daycare. LOL..I can laugh now because it sounds so dramatic and it isn’t really what happened but at the time that’s how it felt. In all fairness I was the one who said “maybe we should take a break” but the look on everyone’s face was saying “Please take your kid home and get this under control before he returns”. It was an awful feeling. My mom guilt was on 15,000% but I knew it was the best thing for Caleb at that point. We had all agreed that his behavior was not safe for himself or the other kids at daycare.
The good news was I truly believed things would get better from here, remember we had already scheduled his evaluation for the speech therapist and in my heart I knew this was step 1 in starting to help Caleb find his words. Everyone (the daycare, his pediatrician and myself) all agreed that Caleb’s inability to communicate was the root of his behavioral issues and it was exciting to know we would get help in that area soon.
Armed with a list of concerns and questions we headed to our first appointment the first week in November. I didn’t know if she’d be able to help with everything but I planned to lay it all out there and see what she could help with and what she couldn’t. I wanted to tell her about what an awful sleeper he was, his behavior at daycare, his poor eating habits, my concern that he still couldn’t use a fork and spoon to eat. I would share that he preferred to play alone and didn’t care for other kids in his personal space.i would tell her about his repetitive habits both in speech and his actions. I had decided that no matter what therapist or doctor we saw I would tell them everything! Never leaving out any details. I was determined for someone to help me help my baby. I was a mama on a mission now more than ever before.
The day of our appointment I was ready but I wasn’t sure if Caleb would be. He was apprehensive in doctors appointments and I didn’t know what to expect. Right away I was pleasantly surprised. Miss Tina was warm and friendly the minute she laid eyes on us. Caleb instantly greeted her with “Hi!!!!” It figures I’m here to tell her my kid doesn’t speak and immediately he’s greeting her like the neighborhood Walmart associate. Really Caleb?!
We get into her workspace and there’s 1 parent’s chair, her chair and 2 kiddie chairs, 1 of which has a seatbelt like strap attached to it, similar to a high chair but not as high off the ground. There’s also a little table that all the chairs were set up around except for the parents chair which was by the door, my mom took that seat. Caleb, Miss Tina and I sat around the table and the chair with the straps was obviously for him.
Uh oh! Here we go! Meltdown time!
Caleb doesn’t like to be strapped down unless he’s riding in his stroller or in his car seat with some sort of distraction in his hand. I didn’t outwardly panic but I’m sure I looked like a deer in headlights as she lifted him into the chair with the straps. Mom and I made eye contact and exchanged a glance that we both understood said “Oh shit!” then i watched as he wiggled a little but let Miss Tina strap him in WITHOUT a peep!
Ok this is good, he feels comfy with her. This is important. As she explained to us how the evaluation would work we all observed Caleb as he wiggled a little and looked around. He never reached over for me to help him escape and he never looked back at Gemma, his saving grace in every situation. He was still assessing his surroundings, looking at the mirror on the wall, looking around the office. I made sure when he looked at me that I would smile and reassure him that he was ok and I was right here.
Miss Tina was actually really great! Very bubbly and animated, she looked like she belonged on Sesame Street and Caleb really took to her. And then she took out toys and he was in love! As they played she asked me questions and wrote down her own observations. She noticed right away that Caleb was a “mouth breather” and asked if he always did that or if he’d been congested from a cold lately. I told her he always breathed through his mouth when awake and asleep. She noticed his repetition of ABCs, 123s, shapes and colors right away and made note that we needed to work on verbs and nouns. She said “ok Caleb we know you’re ready for kindergarten but we’ve gotta get you ready for the rest of the world too.” LOL. She pulled out some flash cards with action words and showed Caleb to see what he knew, making mention that we could and should get them for home as well. For his breathing she recommended we contact an Ear, Nose and throat doctor to check his tonsils and adenoids. She had a referral for us. The doctor she used for her own children which was comforting. For his other developmental delays she asked me to make an appt with a developmental pediatrician. That’s who would have to evaluate for SPD(sensory processing disorder),ADHD, and autism.
As she rattled off all of this information I was overwhelmed and excited and scared. I took some notes and she also made notes that she’d later send me off with. We had a lot of work to do, more doctors and specialists to see. We also had our own homework to do…flash cards, limited abcs and 123s, limit electronics, more book work and creative play. We needed to get play dough and we needed to make a family album for people recognition. Did i mention that at almost 2 1/2 years old Caleb still wasn’t calling me by name. Not Mom, mama, mommy..nothing. He would bring me something if someone asked him to give mommy something or if my mom said go ask mommy he was could come to me and either hand me his cup which meant he wanted juice. Or hand me the iPad and yell “Ipap!” He didn’t call his dad or my mom by name either. It was concerning to me and Miss Tina gave us an assignment to work on that right away.
She instructed us to put our pictures, individual pictures, into a small album and go over each person with Caleb. He thrives on repetition so this would be a good way to teach him. She recognized that he had a gift to quickly memorize as well and thought this would help him verbalize each person.
As she showed us how to do the album she said,
“Mommy, Daddy, Gemma…”
Out of nowhere Caleb spins around to my mom and yells “GEMMA!” We all stopped and looked in shock. Mom and I got tears in our eyes instantly and after the shock wore off we all yelled “OH MY GOD!” Mom jumped up and kissed him and he yelled again “GEMMA!”
It was the first time Caleb had said her name! It was the first time my mom who longed to be a grandmother would hear her name called from her grand-baby. It was really special and it all happened within 30 minutes of his first speech evaluation.
Just like that I knew things were going to get better. Caleb hasn’t stopped calling his Gemma since.