Friday, May 28, 2010

Speech Assessment

Dear Gabriel,

Hopefully within the next few weeks we will have an appointment for you to see a speech pathologist. You have approximately 50 words in your vocabulary and most of them are no where near being clear. You aren't putting words together in sentences and when you do I'm not sure if I have even heard you correctly. As your mom I am completely biased to your development and I always have been. In my eyes you are perfect. It's only when it's pointed out to me do I begin to worry that perhaps your prematurity has affected you in more ways than your birth weight.

I guess I took the doctors literally when they said that you would be caught up by the age of two and since we, as a family, don't know kids your own age I have nothing to compare your progress to. We worked so hard in your first year of life to get your physical development on track that I never had time to think about your cognitive development. It's only when family members began to question your lack of speech did I even know to question it myself. I feel as though I have let you down, little one. That I should have noticed your speech problems earlier. You were always such a quiet baby that when you weren't babbling by the time you turned one I just brushed it aside as personality. I was such a new mommy I didn't really know what was normal and what wasn't. It didn't really hit me how far you were behind until I compared you to your sister. I realize now my mistake, and it pains me to know that my mistake has hurt you in some regard.

I know, rationally, that I shouldn't be so hard on myself, but I'm your mother. It's my job to protect and nurture you. I think my guilt probably extends, even beyond, not recognizing your speech difficulties, to feeling as though somehow I have passed this problem onto you through genetics.

I was speech delayed as a child and was in the child development center for two years to remedy this problem. I remember bits and pieces from that time and I remember how lonely I felt broken. I didn't understand why I couldn't go to kindergarten and my brother could. I didn't understand why my classroom had children in wheelchairs who could barely lift their heads let alone carry on any sort of game or conversation with me, and I remember thinking I just didn't belong there.

I don't want you to feel like that. All I have ever wanted for you was good things. And I know a speech delay isn't the worst thing in the world, but its still hard for me to see that as far as you have come since birth, you still have so much farther to go. And I guess what I want for you, most of all, is for certain people in our family to see how wonderfully brilliant, and beautiful you are. I want for them to comment on everything you can do, for once, and not on the things you cant. It seems since birth all we have heard is "he's not doing that yet?" And I'm just so sick of listening to this endlessly repetitive question. Maybe you aren't "doing that yet" but there's a hell of a lot you can do, if only they would open their eyes to see you.

Their ignorance reminds me of your lullaby. The very first time I held you (and your father will vouch for me) I sang to you "Baby mine". It is our special song, and in it the words read...

If they knew sweet little you
They'd end up loving you too
All those same people who scold you
What they'd give just for
The right to hold you
From your head to your toes
You're not much, goodness knows
But you're so precious to me
Sweet as can be, baby of mine

Those words hold special meaning for me for obvious reasons. From the second you were born you have shown me how strong and brave you are. I am so damned proud of you, and I feel so blessed to be one of the only people on the face of this earth, who truly has the hold you.

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