I had sort of a rough week last week. I spend three hours of my week with therapists working to help Landon become the best version of himself. Or something like that. He does an hour of speech therapy, an hour of occupational therapy, and an hour-long play group for children with sensory needs. If that sounds like a lot, well, I agree. We started this journey when he was 22 months old with just speech and have gradually had services added on. But that’s not really what made my week rough. I mean I think most any mother will tell you that when your kid needs something you just sort of do it until it becomes your new normal.
The rough came when I was talking to his occupational therapist about how far he’s come since she first started seeing him when he couldn’t sit unassisted for longer than a few minutes. She has been amazing. Honestly, I feel like we owe her so much and she’s helped our little man so much. But in not trying to overwhelm me with all the things we need to work on, she’s instead been gradually introducing new things to work on. And she gives us the next step in the best compliment sandwich. But I sort of had it in my head that he was doing so well there couldn’t possibly be too many more things to work on. And then the compliment sandwich came. And the worst part about them is how crazy inadequate they make me feel. Only because when something is pointed out I can’t help but think, “Oh my gosh I’m with him for all of his waking hours, how did I not see that?” And that is the exhausting part of having a special needs kid, as moderate as those needs may be. It’s like a Groundhog Day compliment sandwich experience.
I felt so defeated. And then we had speech therapy. And his speech therapist (who is also super great) had to tell me we’d reached a therapy plateau. That she was getting the same sounds but he wasn’t adding any new ones. We’ve been in speech therapy for nine months and we haven’t added a single word. We’re still talking about sounds. And I know Einstein didn’t talk until he was four. And I know he’ll talk when he’s ready. And I know it’s nothing I’ve done. And I know in the scheme of his life it won’t matter if he was a little late talking. And I hear you when you say that when he starts talking I’ll be wishing for these quieter days. But. I don’t know. He is in this place where he wants to communicate. He wants to be heard. And he can’t. And that’s sort of heartbreaking to witness daily. And when he gets frustrated and yells and has fits because he doesn’t feel understood, that’s heartbreaking too.
This is the third time I’ve tried to sit down and write this post. It’s sort of personal and I questioned even sharing it at all. But I started writing it anyway. As a way to work through my thoughts and to put real and truthful things on the internet. So as I started writing about this the first time, I realized it was a post full of justifications. But that felt wrong and not helpful. So I tried again with a post full of clinical explanations. But then I questioned how much of Landon’s diagnoses were mine to share, so that one went in the trash bin as well. And I realized that I was tired of trying to explain why Landon does the things he does. And which of his quirks are actually sensory “issues” that he needs help with instead of just quirks. I don’t want to dwell on how long he’s been receiving therapies and which are working and which aren’t. I want to be his mom. I want to focus on the blessing that it is to have him as my charge while on Earth. So I don’t want to talk about what he isn’t doing. That’s exactly what left me so exasperated after his therapies this week. Instead I want to rejoice in who he is.
Landon Jude is quite possibly the sweetest person I know. He’s sweet because his lack of verbal communication has made him an early expert in non-verbal cues. He is so empathetic. He’s the first to console his little brother and the first to give me a much needed hug when I’m upset. He also feels the joy of others.
He’s hyper intuitive. He loves to foresee and meet the needs of others. Every morning when I carry my oatmeal from the counter to the table there’s a spoon waiting for me. I know that seems like a little thing, but I can’t help but smile every single morning. When I lay Cohen down for a change, Landon loves to grab the diaper and wipe. His occupational therapist has always been impressed with his ability to understand his body’s needs. He may not be able to copy you when you point to your nose but he knows when his body gets tired and needs to rest [the alternative would be a crazy rolling on the floor tantrum].
Landon is the first kid to try a new food. He loves hugs and holding hands. When we’re playing with playdoh stamps he finds the heart stamper and gives it to Lucy because he knows it’s her favorite. And even though he can’t talk, I’m pretty sure he’s setting himself up to be a World Champion in Charades.
He’s a little different, but I’m a lot lucky.