I had a lot of uncertainty when Riley was born. How would I know what she needed? How would I know that she didn’t die when I thought she was sleeping? How little sleep can I get before my body shuts down? One thing I was always certain of though was that she was advanced. Yes, I was absolutely sure that every milestone she hit was early and was perfectly executed. Disappointment struck each time I took her to a well visit and the doctor didn’t automatically refer her to some specialized doctor for geniuses. They may not have realized her extraordinary presence when they held her, but I sure did. I imagine it is the same way every new mom feels about her firstborn. I knew Riley was amazing and could do anything.
And so I was a bit surprised when she started to miss the typical speech milestones. She gained one-syllable words slowly and didn’t progress to three-word sentences until she was well past two. By three, she had found other ways to communicate and rarely relied on words. At first, I wasn’t too worried. After all, kids develop at different rates. She had plenty of time to catch up. I had already researched different ways to help her practice her speech at home. I repeated her sentences back to her, we repeated sentences heavy with alliteration, and we talked about everything we were seeing and doing.
I talked a lot. She didn’t. Finally, when she was three, I decided to take her for a speech evaluation to get an expert’s opinion. Mostly, I was looking for more ways to help her at home. The evaluation itself was awesome. Riley really clicked with her therapist and used more words than she had in the whole month before. But, when I got the final report, it was lacking any real information and whole sections were missing. Frustrated, I reached out to the therapist to finish the evaluation and for the strategies I was looking for. I never heard back from her again. The experience was disheartening and left me with a bad taste for speech therapy.
Until now. Eight months out from the beginning of kindergarten, we have finally found a reliable place for Riley’s speech therapy. Again, Riley really clicked with the therapist during her evaluation, and the report I received back was thorough, complete, and helpful. We were both thrilled. After attending her first session this Wednesday, Riley was in a fantastic mood. She did a great job while there and, I believe, felt good to be conquering verbal expression. After all, when she’s running her own company, she’ll need to do a lot of speaking. For now, she’ll just practice her persuasive dialogue on her sister.