The End of Chapter: Adventures in Speech

I'm taking a break from blogging about sewing to share some exciting news.

Today is a BIG day for my 5 year old.  Today, she GRADUATES the Speech Program through our local school system.   I have an immense amount of pride in the determination my daughter has shown over the last few years as well deep gratitude for her Speech Teacher, who truly is nothing short of amazing.

Here's our story (as condensed as I could make it ;)  ):

Our journey in Speech Therapy started years ago -- I knew before 18 months that there was something amiss with our daughter's speech, or lack thereof.  At age 2, our pediatrician agreed we should get our daughter evaluated by Early Intervention. At age 2, our daughter had about 5 words that were intelligible.  The rest were merely sounds - most of them missing key consonants.  She did, however, mimic tones and inflection surprisingly well so I began saying words with different inflections and then I would memorize her trying to mimic me.   It was her own little language and we were her first students.  She also made up her own signs in order to try to communicate with us.  She had so much to say; she just could not get her muscles in her tongue and lips to cooperate with her brain.

Video shortly before her 2nd birthday.

It's tough to see one of your own struggle with something we seemingly take for granted.  For months, I blamed myself -  Was it my fault? Was it because I was induced or that she lost oxygen during her birth?  Did I not read enough with her as a baby?  I admit, I was somewhat jealous of those around me with kids the same age who were saying the funniest phrases or heck, could efficiently communicate basic needs and desires..  Of course, I kept it mostly to myself and would sometimes vent to my husband.  Once she got evaluated, I grew optimistic, but knew it would likely be a long journey.  My daughter, though, never once questioned why no one could understand her or why she talked the way she talked.  She has always been my little social butterfly and didn't let a little thing like lack of communication stand in her way of making friends.  Sometimes the greatest lessons are ones taught by our children.

Having not been through Early Intervention before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  Within a couple months of little to no progress, I scoured the Internet in hopes of a 'miracle'.   I read articles of kids taking Fish Oil Supplements and seeing noticeable results in as little as 6 weeks.  Having nothing to lose, I began her on Fish Oil Supplements (under the supervision of her pediatrician) and surprisingly had a bit of a word explosion about 6 weeks later.  There's no way to know, however, if she would have encountered the same results without taking the supplements, but I will always remember that is the month she actually spoke her first sentence.

"Whew, it cold outside."

She did make progress during Early Intervention and I am grateful for the resources.  I wrote this status on Facebook on her last day in EI: "Today marks the end of Marissa's speech therapy through Early Intervention. When she started, she had only 5 intelligible words, couldn't use her lips or tongue to form most consonants, deleted the end of every word, and didn't have the words to convey her own thoughts. Marissa can now carry on a conversation, has so many intelligible words, stopped deleting the end of most words, and only has a few consonants left to work on. I am so proud of all of her hard work and determination! I can't wait to see what a difference school will make."

Waiting for her teachers on her first day in the school speech program.
April 2012

 Within the year, she aged out of Early Intervention and transferred into the local school system.  Her first day, she was so excited for "school", she didn't even look back as she walked inside with her classmates.  Our school system has a very cool speech program -- the kids (usually 5 or so per class) go for 75 minutes twice a week and it mimics a typical preschool day.  The main teacher is a Speech Therapist and there is also an assistant.  The past two school years, my daughter was lucky to have the same Speech Teacher.  Her teacher, Mrs. Barbara is exceptional -- each class, we left with a progress report for that day as well as what sounds/words to focus.  I could physically see the areas in which she struggled or excelled.  And my daughter enjoyed making projects with the assistants -- first Ms. Judy, and this year, Miss Sheridan.

Starting a new school year - Fall 2012

Her teacher had a gameplan with regards to which letters to target and it was great to see my daughter progressing through each step of the way.   Last summer, at age 4, she could finally pronounce her name properly!  You see, her name has an /s/ sound towards the end and previously she would omit the sound all together in the medial and final positions and would substitute the /s/ sound in the initial position.   This is another day I won't forget.

Learned about Community Helpers - Fall 2013

Today marks yet another important day in this journey.   My daughter has caught up to her peers in regards to speech and will be starting Kindergarten in the fall.  I have tears of joy as I didn't know if this day would ever come.   My daughter was a fighter on the day she was born and she has been a fighter ever since.  She is one determined little lady and I am so proud she calls me "Mommy".

Congratulations, Miss M -- YOU DID IT!!!

Her teachers, Miss Sheridan and Mrs. Barbara


5 comments on "The End of Chapter: Adventures in Speech"
  1. Very nice! Congratulations to you both.

  2. I knew this would make me cry :P That's probably why I didn't read it right away. Speech Therapy feels like such a lonely, unsure process, and I'm so grateful to have you in my life and testifying to your own success with the system. My son is a social butterfly, too, and it breaks my heart every day when the people he wants to communicate with stare back at him vacantly, and he can't come even close to forming his own name to introduce himself. Thank you for the hope, and thank you for illuminating the path ahead of us. It won't be fast and it won't be easy, but he's a fighter too and I know we'll overcome this in due time :)

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Becca! It does seem like a lonely path and one full of guilt (at least in my case), but kids are so resilient and fighters. I truly believe Marissa was able to teach me a valuable lesson in both confidence and patience. We truly enjoyed celebrating what was like seemingly unimportant milestones to most as huge milestones in Marissa's journey. I hope your journey is a fulfilling and valuable as it was for me.


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