Two weeks ago, Cadet’s speech therapist gave her notice. She’s moving back to her home state to be near her family. She’ll be with us through the end of July. It’s a sad thing. I love Tay. She started out as this young thing, right out of grad school. But, in the last 18 months, she’s really grown into her own as a speech therapist and as an advocate for her clients. She’s easily one of Cadet’s favorite people.
I remember meeting Tay for the first time and thinking that there was no way she could help us. She was too young, too new, or too peppy. And it took us several months to find the right balance with her and Cadet. But, when we found it…things clicked.
When she first met Cadet, he was barely talking. He couldn’t say “mama” or “ball”. At 2, he didn’t have much speech at all, it’s hard to recall that time without a deep sense of sadness. I remember being on the verge of tears when I told her that he couldn’t say “mama” anymore. And, to her credit, she told me that we’d get that back. Even if she didn’t know it was true…she knew enough to tell me that for some hope.
Now, Cadet is talking up a storm. Sure, we have some concepts we’re working on: plurals and pronouns, currently. We also work on slowing down his speech when he’s excited and not stumbling over words. He’s speaking so much now, that it’s really a matter of getting him interested in something…and the lesson just takes off from there.
Tay has been amazing at supporting my homeschooling efforts. She prints interesting ideas or lessons and brings them to me or she e-mails good articles about speech. Most amazingly, she does the lessons at our home (the only client she does that for). She says she loves working around whatever we happen to be doing that day (baking, outdoor play, or taking a walk). I found out a while ago that life can’t stop because of a therapy session, and sometimes you just need to work therapy into whatever happens to be going on. Thankfully, Tay agrees.
When Tay announced she was leaving, we had a long discussion about Cadet’s future in speech. He’s really hitting on all cylinders these days and according to her latest round of testing: he’s “at or above” his age range for 90% of skills. And he still has some skills that are in the “gifted” range. Since we had talked about tapering off her sessions at the beginning of the year, her leaving falls naturally into that timeframe. She feels confident that Cadet’s in a good space to be leaving speech therapy, and I agree.
But, despite it being the “right” time for speech to be ending, I admit I’m nervous about it. Tay is my sounding board for all things speech-related. Is this “normal” or “should” he be doing that? I’ll miss hearing her reassuring “yeah, that’s totally normal”. She is also my barometer for Cadet’s progress. If I have ever felt there was a setback or something he wasn’t doing that he was a week ago…I could ask and she’d watch for it or do a little probing to come up with an answer. She’s always telling me that Cadet is doing wonderfully. And that working with Cadet has been so reassuring to her about her profession.
We haven’t told Cadet yet about Tay’s eventual departure. We’ll tell him two or three weeks before she’s due to leave, giving him plenty of time to ask questions and adjust to the idea. I can tell that Tay’s going to miss Cadet. At our session this week she asked me if it was okay to just have a “play day”…and I gave the go-ahead. Play days in speech therapy, are just that…a day to play. Tay and Cadet blew bubbles on the patio, played with cars, danced, rolled the hula hoop, and were generally silly together. They didn’t work on anything…just played and laughed and sang. She occasionally would make notes if she heard a new word or phrase, but it was all just play. At the end of the session, she had tears in her eyes when she told me she’s really going to miss Cadet.
Once Tay leaves, Cadet will be down to his weekly OT appointment and nothing else. And, even that will be starting to phase out over the next several months. In just 7 months, we’ve gone from several therapy appointments a week…to one. It’s a startling change to have such open weeks. But, I know it’s because Cadet is doing so well.
Tay and I reminisced at the end of the session. It’s really quite amazing how far Cadet has come. I thanked Tay for all her hard work. She smiled, and told me that it’s all Cadet’s doing. As most people have told me (and I know)…he’s a very strong and determined young man. Tay told me that he deserves the credit for his progress. Just at that moment, Cadet came over and said: “I love you Mama. Are you happy?” I told I was happy. He gave me a hug and shouted with his arms flung wide: “Mama, I’m very, very, very happy!!!” and then wandered off to blow some more bubbles. My heart melted…