The Empty Box

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I opened the crisp envelope, just knowing that it would contain a glowing evaluation of my genius son.  Knowing that all the hard work he has put in will shine through.

I began reading it with a smile and ended it in tears, he did not meet one goal.  Not ONE.  His speech therapist wrote kindly of how hard Marshall works, how he is laser focused, how much he impresses her.  All the things you would hope to hear, yet no goals met.  Marshall’s speech is estimated to be 40% intelligible to those not familiar to him.  How?  He works so hard!

If he didn’t sit still, if he tried playing instead of working, if he didn’t focus or try-those are things I could fix.  But that’s not him, he works so hard!

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Through tears I reflected back on this year.  Watching Marshall be perfectly still, try so hard, focus on just the task of learning to speak as other children loudly laughed and played nearby.

My mama instincts kicked in and I instantly went into planning mode.  I will watch more YouTube videos with tips and tricks to help him, I will read more articles, I will follow more speech pathologists on Instragram, I will advocate harder and not allow anyone to tell me “no” to services for my son.  I will be stronger, I will be the warrior my son deserves.

And as if on cue, my self-doubt started rising: but, but what did I do wrong?  Maybe I shouldn’t have him in sports right now, maybe he shouldn’t be allowed to play on the tablet at all, maybe I should get rid of our TVs, maybe I should up the amount of time we do language exercises at home from ‘exhausting’ to ‘deadly’.

Spiraling down the dark path of taking away the (already very few) hours a week my son gets to be an ‘ordinary’ child, where he can watch a movie with his friends in silence or play soccer and be the top scorer on his team without having to say a word, I caught myself.

I’m not going to penalize my son for not making his speech goals.  He is an exemplary student, he gets the highest marks in all his goals in his mainstream classroom.  His classroom teacher told me this past year that there are things Marshall can do that she has never seen a child his age be able to accomplish; she described him as “worldly” for his knowledge he displays.  When put in a mainstream classroom with neurotypical students, he doesn’t just keep up- he flourishes and rises to the top.
So no, I’m not crying because I’m disappointed in my son- because I’m absolutely not.  I’m so damn proud of what he has been able to achieve because he works so hard!  No, I realized- while going down this little rabbit hole- that I was crying because of my worries and my own self doubts.
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I was crushed because I was afraid that this sweet, fantastic, smart little boy won’t ever be able to ‘pass’ as a neurotypical person.  That he will be teased, that he won’t be able to land jobs he wants, that he may have trouble making friends or dates.  Those unchecked boxes didn’t say Marshall didn’t meet his goal, but that I didn’t.  My main focus and goal has been giving my son a voice.  I read every article I can get my hands on, watch every video, reach out to speech pathologists specializing in apraxia across the country- and it hasn’t been enough to check that damn box.  I haven’t been enough.  The empty box was filled with questions of “what more could I have done for my son?” It was my failings as a mother and fears seemingly reaffirmed.
Regrouping and drying my eyes, I came to a few conclusions: we will keep pushing on and working hard.  I will keep working as hard as possible to get my son to 100% intelligible, Marshall will keep working so very hard to gain what so many take for granted- and hopefully the world will be kind to us in the meantime in the aspects of my fears listed above.  For now . . . I’m off to make copies of the progress report and check the box myself.  ✔️ GOAL MET



To learn more about Apraxia of Speech click here

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