A lot has been going on around our house and I wanted to wait until I had some answers before I shared anything.
Sounds ominous, yes? Good news: It's not.
Today I'll start with Baby A, Jude the Dude. When he's not provoked, Jude is as laidback as they come. He happily plays with friends or by himself, loves to give hugs and kisses, and always, always wants to know where his twin sister is. He is a free spirit, full of energy, and would rather jump off your table than sit in a chair.
I can't continue this tale without also mentioning his sister. Sloane is charming, deliberate, and so very sneaky. More than all of this, she is a people-pleaser. If I tell the kids it's time to pick up their toys, she's the first to oblige. If I ask a question, she answers. If I need something, she's on it. This is wonderful - I have my own personal assistant - except when it comes to Jude's communication. When I ask Jude a question, she answers it; when I ask Jude to bring me a book, she grabs one. At this age, it is such a delicate balance of asking her to hold back while telling him to move forward. One of my daily mantras is "Do not break their spirit." Do not force Jude to sit still if what he needs more than anything is to move. Do not tell Sloane to quit helping when her daily desire is to do just that. It's tricky and what it's led to is a sweet sister who communicates for her brother.
Jude has always been a bit delayed with speech. If you've read my blog at all you already know this. I took him to Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) at 18 months and he passed. I was shocked. Since then he's continued to learn new words, speak in phrases, and has a clear understanding of what we say to him. But even though you're told never to compare, I couldn't help but notice his sister having full blown conversations with me while he sat back. He is strong enough he can help himself to most anything and his needs are few. I decided it was time to have him tested once more at ECI and we had his evaluation a few weeks ago.
It was almost three hours of testing in a tiny room. They covered everything from communication to motor skills. Jude was on his WORST behavior that day. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't embarrassed. I watched him throw toys, hide under chairs, and completely shut down. I realized for the first time that I have never made him continue an activity if he doesn't want to do it. With two kids, you just try to get through the day in one piece and sometimes that means you fix things that would be helpful lessons if left broken. I watched my happy-go-lucky son refuse to point to his feet because he was so frustrated. It was hard to watch - I just wanted to grab him and run.
Once they scored the test, I learned he passed everything but receptive communication. Example: "Jude, point to your feet." The therapist told me Jude would've passed but each time he was frustrated and refused to cooperate, they had to give him a 0. Jude knows his body parts but wouldn't point to anything. 0. He knows that milk goes in a cup, but wouldn't point to the cup. 0. The therapist was sympathetic and said she truly believed he could do these things but without seeing it, they couldn't assume. And so she left it up to me. Did I want Jude to have a speech therapist until he turned three?
It took me less than two seconds to say YES. I looked at my frustrated son and realized we both need help with his communication. Just as much as he needs to learn how to better communicate, I need to learn how to help him. A speech therapist will come to our house once a week for an hour. She will sit right next to him, teaching him new things, and I will be on his other side, taking as many mental notes as I can to make sure I can help him the other six days.
Today was his first appointment. Lauren is his therapist and they really hit it off. She made him laugh, which made her laugh (this child's laugh is second to none). They worked together on a letter game and while he was reluctant at first, he listened. And then he smiled. And then he participated.
He will receive help over the next three months and then he'll be evaluated again to see if he needs to continue speech therapy once he turns three.
I don't think any parent wants to hear their child needs therapy. At the same time, every parent wants the absolute best for their child. I'm proud of him every day but today was exceptional. Twins get so little one-on-one time and Lauren did such a good job of making today FUN. I got to see my son be the center of attention when he has allowed Sloane to carry that title for 2.5 years.
My prayer over the next three months is that Jude will not only gain words but also confidence. I have so much confidence in him and now it's his turn to realize it for himself.