“We’re going to meet teacher Susan*, Sweetie. Mommy needs you to show her what you know. Do your very best okay?”
So many people had told me to stop worrying, “She’s fine…Why are you doing this?” that I walked into the assessment feeling a bit paranoid. It didn’t help that we arrived on the school campus on time but had a hard time finding the right room, which made us late. As we started the assessment there were forms for me to fill out. I hate filling out forms, and I didn’t know how to answer several of the questions. Meanwhile Susan was attempting to get my daughter to sit in a chair and point at pictures. My daughter was more interested in all of the new toys in the room. Susan brought out a box of toys, too, so then my daughter got more interested, except Susan wanted her to follow very specific instructions with the toys and then all bets were off. The rice table looked a lot more entertaining.
Another teacher came in to interact with my daughter and try to engage her in social talk and play. My daughter responded in her usual parroting ways and turned back to the toys that she had latched onto at the beginning of the session. Meanwhile Susan explained that the way I filled out the intake forms had prepared her for phonology issues, but she was seeing clear signs of speech and language delay and possibly motor delays as well. I tried to stay calm, but couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face. Some other news that morning (now inconsequential but at the time heartbreaking) had left me raw and vulnerable. The 18 months of wondering if I was the only one who could see my child’s struggles had come full circle, but not in the direction that I wanted. I spent the evening convincing myself that she would still be just fine.
“We’re going to Sissy’s old school to meet Jane*. She’s going to talk to you, Bubba.”
“Will she talk to me, too, Mommy?”
“Yes, but mostly to Bubba.”
I told very few people that I was taking my son in for a speech evaluation. I didn’t want the second guessing again. If I had been overly concerned for my oldest then I was surely off my rocker this time. I walked down the all too familiar hallway to the Early Intervention Wing, both twins in tow, and confidently opened the door to find the speech therapist. She immediately began interacting with my son, listening to his words, asking me to interpret, watching to see if he would follow directions. This time I knew what she was doing. This time the forms were not daunting (though no more pleasant to complete). This time I was steeled to hear the worst. This time it really does appear to be a phonology issue.
This time I walked out knowing we all really will be just fine, and we’ve come a long way.
*names have been changed.