Hallie began private speech therapy on Sunday. We consider ourselves very fortunate that our therapist was able to get approval to see her twice weekly for 12 weeks. Hopefully, she'll be able to extend this because it's really clear to us that this is not a problem that is going to go away in 12 weeks. Indeed, I suspect this will stretch on for years and, unfortunately, at this juncture point, it's unclear where or how this story is going to turn out.
In other words, the shoe that we always expected, appears to have dropped. Very quietly.
So, this is not a fun post to write. Normally I'm either an optimist or I am indignant and a fighter where Hallie is concerned. I'll do anything to get to the bottom of what's going on (figuring out the reflux puzzle, figuring out the allergy puzzle, not taking no for an answer or accepting easy fixes that specialists throw at you when I know my kid better than they do, etc etc). This talking puzzle, and to some extent, its corollary, the eating puzzle, have me stymied and dejected. I don't even know what to say anymore. How appropriate.
So therapy is very hard for Hallie. Talking is very hard for Hallie. That's what it boils down to. She is so clearly unable to make her mouth and lips work to make sounds, even when she knows those sounds and makes them in other contexts. For example, Hallie has begun to imitate the word "good" (sounds like "guh" or even just a glottal "g" stop sound) at home. If we say "good" (as in "good girl"), Hallie says "guh" almost every time. But when the therapist put her on a swing at the office and tried to get her to imitate "go" ('guh' would have been perfectly acceptable), Hallie simply and clearly could not do it. Over and over again. The second we said "good" she'd go "guh" and if we said "go" she'd look at us, and try to move her mouth, and nothing would come out. The good news about "go" is that we eventually managed to get "go" (guh again) out of her on the park swing last night after we both got home from work. And now we can probably go with it, so to speak, but this is so, so hard for Hal.
The word that had her so frustrated and broke our hearts was "ball." Balls are one of Hallie's favorite things but for some reason she cannot sign them and she cannot say "ball." She says "buh" for Big Bird, Bert, and Bubbles---they all sound the same and are just consonants, really, but we'll take that. But not for "ball." And the therapist would not give her a ball until she said and signed something and so over, and over again our little girl was upset, and frustrated, and at the end literally threw up her hands in the air and did not know what to do. We'll work on ball at home, too, and eventually she will get it. But this is so hard and our hearts are breaking.
I think it'll go like this for every word at this point, and they are not really words but mere approximations. And then we will need to fight to turn them from mere statements into modes of communication (nothing except Sesame Street functions that way yet). And then we will need to add vowels, and syllables and build language.
It's like teaching someone who had a massive stroke how to speak, I imagine. And not knowing if they ever will.
So we are just sad. We'll fight this, of course, no matter what it takes and we will get her to speak however best she can and communicate with us in whatever mode works, and love her, love her, love her throughout this process, but this morning, and last night, and the day before have been very hard.
On a positive note: we did have a four day vomit free streak (March 31-April 3) and yesterday was sans spew, too. So we are up to 30 days of no vomit this year, four of them being in April. May the streak go on!