Sally gave me a name and a number for a Speech Pathologist/Therapist that she had worked with in the past. I think I had it for months; long enough to loose it once and had to ask for it again. It wasn't until Shea's 3rd birthday neared that I called Marian. I was nervous. I was opening a door on something that I didn't really want to acknowledge.
I remember we talked for quite a while on the phone that first day. I was surprised that she gave me so much of her time. She was very nice and informative; had a stellar resume and seemed a good fit. After I explained Shea's issues as best I could, she said, "Well, he does sound like a child that I would see." We arranged a time and the ball was in motion.
Here is just a quick aside; there are no Speech Therapists on my little island. We have 11,000 people, a rocking grocery store, good restaurants, a couple of bookstores and a movie theater but not one speech therapist. Going "off island" or "over town" was going to be a given. Ok, you do it for your kid.
When we started, Shea did not have any words. He grunted, squeaked, pointed, babbled and hollered. To begin, she did an evaluation or gave Shea more standardized tests. But, she said right at the beginning, "These tests don't really mean a thing. They are snapshots at a certain point in time. In fact, mostly they are garbage."
By the way, we actually do call her Bubble Lady because helping Shea to learn to blow bubbles was one of the first things they worked on. For Shea, just learning to blow a kazoo or a whistle was a big deal. It was months before he expressed his first real word, "up". It was born from a "working hard noise", like lifting something heavy, coming from deep down inside. UGHP! Is how I would spell it. This was indeed a break through for him.
I should probably share a little bit about what to expect if you go find a speech pathologist. First, they are in high demand. Many are not even taking new patients. Marian says that there are fewer and fewer people getting into the field because the insurance companies do not generally cover neurological therapies or only a small portion. I won't get going on the insurance issue, that is a whole post by itself. But, the long and the short of it is; we were lucky to find her.
Also, I need to be honest; it's pricey. Let's just say, I could get myself a facial, pedicure and a manicure plus a tip every week for about the same price. But, I don't question the worth, not at all. She has been integral in helping us navigate this stressful, scary time. She gives us real and legitimate advise on how to deal with school and the insurance company. She offers hope and encouraging anecdotes. She gently tugs us away from negativity and helps us look at the big picture. Frankly, we could not have gone this far without her.
Now when I look at Shea, I really see how far we have come. He now calls her Bubble Lady all by himself. It warms my heart each time I hear it. I know it warms hers too.
Thank you, Bubble Lady.