Let's Catch Up
A few things have happened since Mason turned two.
We've been taking some much-needed family time together. I've been a bit absent here and on social media, but I'm back and have some big updates to share with you!
Mason turned two earlier this month. Since then, he's discovered new interests including playing with toy cars, maneuvering a balance board, and eating meals at his own kid-size table. And yes, B and I sometimes have our meals with Mason at his table too. Upon Mason's birthday, B and I were having more intentional conversations about enrolling Mason in "school"(daycare). While we've always imagined him starting school at three years old, we couldn't help this constant feeling that he should begin sooner. We feel that it would benefit Mason's development to be in a classroom environment. We also believe it would be great to have him around kids his age. We're a bit more at ease with the social aspect of school because Mason loves being around other kids. We decided to wait for his routine wellness check-up and get the Pediatrician's perspective (plus her advice on starting school with the pandemic).
Before getting into the school and cognitive development part of his appointment, I'm happy to report that Mason is a healthy growing toddler! Regarding school, the Pediatrician was honest in her agreement that she too thought school would greatly benefit Mason, but for us to understand that there is a risk sending him to school during the pandemic. She informed us of any symptoms to be aware of and what to do if we thought Mason was sick. B and I have been discussing Mason potentially starting school for months by now. We understand there is a risk, and we also know in our hearts that school would be best for him.
As I shared in, I'm A Mom. I Worry., we've been concerned about Mason's speech development. At his last check-up, he was 21 months old, and the Pediatrician recommended we see if his speech progressed by his two-year appointment. After a thorough discussion of Mason's current speech status, his Pediatrician recommended that he be evaluated by a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). I have to admit, I was relieved to hear this. I think that B and I would've still proceeded with early intervention, but as parents and especially after our NICU experience with Mason, it's always comforting when we're on the same page as the doctors. We immediately set up an appointment with the SLP for the following week.
Our first meeting with the SLP was - in the best way - more than I anticipated. She was so welcoming, respectful, and sensitive to our situation. This initial meeting consisted of evaluating Mason's speech development. We answered a lot of questions and expressed our concerns even beyond him forming whole words. For example, Mason will point at a lot of different things at home and outside, but he doesn't seem to make the connection between identifying a picture of something and the actual object or person. If we're going through a picture book and ask Mason to point at the ball, he won't. However, if we're playing in his room and asking him to get a ball, he will. We also talked about what Mason is doing to communicate and play. He can say a few whole words and simultaneously use sign language for a couple of those words. He loves imaginary play, dancing, climbing, chatting with people (in his own babbling way), and playing with other kids. He understands daily routines such as bath time, bedtime, and more.
Over an hour into our very transparent and comfortable meeting, the SLP gave us a concrete answer that Mason is speech delayed. We then asked if sending him to school would help him enough to not need speech therapy. Note: We weren't considering not doing speech therapy; we just wanted to know. The SLP informed us that while we could very well not do speech therapy and send him to school, he would most likely not catch up as quickly as we may have initially thought. It could take even 3 months (or more) until he would eventually develop a few more words but still be behind children who do not have speech delays. If we decided to do early intervention now, we could start working together to improve Mason's speech development. I appreciated that the SLP expressed that she gave us all the information for B and me to make the best decision for Mason. We confirmed that we wanted to start speech therapy.
I felt my shoulders relax after making this decision. We had been in a state of wonder for the past six months, and to have an answer was reassuring that we can now take those next steps in the right direction to help our son. I would be lying if I said that I didn't feel a bit sad inside. That mom-guilt of mine was creeping up on me. I'm the one who is with Mason all day, and naturally, I felt that it's my fault for his speech delay. B reminded me that the SLP told us that we were doing everything we possibly could to teach Mason and that this was not my fault at all. And that her purpose is to identify and help Mason progress in his speech development, and she would outline everything we could work on with him at home. I felt my eyes welling up when we left the SLP's office. But these tears changed from mostly sad to mostly happy. I know to my core that we're doing what's best for Mason, and I'm excited that we're going to do this together as a family.
Oh, except for the school part...I know I'm not allowed to be in class with him at every moment. But I'll be there waiting for a big hug from Mason at the end of each school day.
More to come!