Someone asked me today if I’d always known there was something different about Miss MIP and the answer is yes.
She sat up in good time, was weaned in good time, crawled in good time and walked in good time but the talking……that was always a bit off really. I know you aren’t supposed to compare your children to others but everyone does it don’t they? We always knew she wasn’t exactly the same but we always heard from everyone around us how children always caught up and before we knew it she’d be chattering away.
Except she didn’t.
Yes there were a few words here and there but she was always on the back foot when it came to her speech.
She’d try so hard though – we had so many tears and tantrums of frustrated rage as she tried to form words and sentences that just wouldn’t come. The words were there in her brain but she just couldn’t get them out of her mouth and that was heartbreaking to watch. No parent wants to watch their child struggle and to watch her just fall further and further behind other children her age was awful.
But still we waited for the leap to come. For it all to make sense to her in a sudden flash and she’d start chattering away like everyone promised.
Well she’s four now and despite speech therapy toddler groups, speech and language sessions with experts and an enormous amount assistance from her excellent school there has been no flash and no light. She makes small steps of improvement each week but we have to realistically acknowledge the steps need to be bigger for her to catch up and that’s just not going to happen.
We are lucky we have such a great support system but I can’t explain the levels of heartbreak you feel as a parent when children in school playground with your child. It’s not because she’s mean or she’s unkind but because she simply can’t play the role play and pretend games they do – she can’t be Elsa or Twilight Sparkle at the same speed or understanding they do. Generally the children at her school are so kind and understand that they need a bit of extra care but, through no fault of their own and totally understandably, sometimes they don’t want to slow down for her.
I can reason all this out but when I see her sat on her own on a bench when all the other children are running around and playing my heart shatters for her. Into a million pieces.
Miss MIP has a severe speech and language delay combined with a potential hearing problem and this causes her significant learning difficulties on a day to day basis. She can’t read that well because she can’t sound out letters and she struggles with maths because she can’t conceptualise what the numbers actually mean. Please just for a second try to imagine how hard this is for a four year old who has just started school.
She will be fine – we’ll give her everything we can to help, she has an incredible teacher and is surrounded by lovely children who are very kind but it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of patience to get her through the next few years at school. We’ve explained to her that when she’s at school she needs to work hard and concentrate harder than some of the other children do. She nods very seriously but doesn’t understand – she doesn’t know that we have major concerns about her moving out of reception class, that no matter how many times she asks she is very unlikely to be Mary in next years nativity play and if we throw her a birthday party I really don’t have any idea how many of her classmates would actually come along.
Life with a child who has a learning difficulty is tough. It’s full of joy because we adore her, she’s funny, she’s kind and she’s brave but it’s also frustrating and so so hard.
So I’d beg of you – if you have serious doubts about your child meeting those pesky milestones please get help. The only reason we’ve made it this far is by pushing for help and annoying people into getting her into the places she needs to be. Don’t let people placate you with false promises that everything will get better – follow your instincts and speak to someone about your concerns over and over again until someone listens to you.