Words & Water
Today was one of those days where I woke up with water on my mind. I live a decent distance from the beach and don’t have a swimming pool, but today I knew I needed to get near it. And Xavier needed it too. So we took a 25 minute drive to Cabarita, a place where I spent the better part of summer as a child. Over the past few months, I’ve made every effort to be spontaneous with Xavier. I’ve taken him to new places every single week and made it a point to introduce him to new things regularly. Here’s why...
Xav is only at day care two days a week. I firmly decided that would be enough when he was 18 months old. I never in a million years thought he’d be in daycare at all before 3, but when I realised Xav wasn’t using words often and being very selective with how he engaged with people, I decided to talk to some professionals. The general consensus was that he needed more interaction with other children in his age group as well as varied playtime activities. Let’s face it- there’s no way I’d be able to orchestrate the kind of activities kids get to take part in while at a child care Center without needing a full body massage and wine by the end of it. Then do it again the next day. *faints*
Between 18 months and his 2nd birthday, Xav had only picked up a few more words and was still ignoring people, even when called by name. With major concerns for Autism, I was led down the path of audiology examinations, speech assessments, multiple paediatric appointments and some Bowen Therapy. That was six months ago. So much has changed since then and I’m in a much clearer space with it all. However there’s so much I have to say on the topic that may help others in a similar position.
Thanks to a few initial appointments with a great speech therapist, here are some of the strategies I’ve implemented and still use on a daily basis:
1. Using one or two words only to communicate things, or to prompt him to take part in something. For example, “Eat Banana?” Is the way I offer his favourite fruit, or using the words “Bath time” as we walk to the bathroom..
2. Sitting with him a few times during the day while he plays and using simple words to describe what he’s doing. For example: “Truck go up!” or, “Buzz flying high!”
3. Sitting him up on the bench top (with extra safety measures) to show him what I’m preparing for his meals and talking through it. He loves this so much, but sometimes gets impatient if he has to wait too long for food (heaven forbid)
4. Pointing to my lips and exaggerating certain words. I’m so sure that this technique has prompted him to say the words truck, clock, door, and car over the past two weeks alone.
5. Playing music and dancing daily. This has just been for a bit of fun, but seeing Xavier following the audible prompts has been amazing.
My plan for the new year is to start regular speech therapy and continue with Bowen (which I will write an entire blog post about next), but I have to say, I’m so pleased and incredibly relieved that Xav is finally picking up words and using them regularly.
So this is the part where I rant without editing:
Yes, it’s absolutely true: all children develop differently. Some kids walk earlier than 12months, others later. Some kids love fruit and some don’t. One thing I really struggle with is how quick we are to stick a label on kids who are developing at different rates. Please don’t mistake my struggle with denial. I know for absolute certain that Xav has a language delay, and it’s the only thing I have a formal diagnosis for. I’ve decided to wait a few more months before thinking about any further spectrum testing, and if Xav keeps up with this awesome progress, I might just bin the idea altogether (with My GP’s recommendation).
I overthink a lot.
I think about other single mums, married mums, unmarried mums who are dealing with similar things or worse. When we know our kids “should” be doing certain things, only because we’re told all about such things by people who know more than us. It’s scary and daunting because we do everything for our kids. And it feels horrible thinking that maybe we should be doing so much more with imaginary time and money that we don’t have.
I recently made a decision when it came to how I dwell in this very tender time of Xavier’s life.
I choose joy. No matter what.
I don’t know anyone else who spent pregnancy deliberating financial spilts and the bullshit that comes with separation and divorce. So it’s hard for me to connect with people who try to give me explanations. All I remember is feeling completely robbed of my joy. I felt like a decision made by someone else took away what I had hoped would be the best time of my life. Maybe that’s part of the reason why things are happening this way? Is that part of my life trying to claim something now?
I will not allow it...not this time.
I choose Joy because I absolutely can. Because any other choice would negatively impact my little boy. Because stress and fear were not given to me by my creator... and because joy and gratitude bear the fruit that nothing else can offer. I choose joy because nothing is more amazing than watching my son discover new things. Nothing brings me greater happiness than feeding him. Teaching him. Traveling with him... and proving to my 31 year old self that this is possible, and this is perfect.
I’m so proud of this kid. His laughter, his love of Toy Story, the way he eats scrambled eggs with gusto, his chunky little feet and the way he laughs when birds fly over his head. I love all of him and I can’t wait for our next little adventure. Even if it’s only 25 minutes away.
Thank you, Lord.
Ps. Pardon any typos. I typed faster than my hands could keep up.