Moe has had speech therapy since he was two years old. That's just over four years of speech therapy. Moe has gotten speech from early intervention, from the school district, and from a private highly recommended speech therapy practice.
We've used various methodologies from fill-ins, to singing, to PROMPT, a method designed to help people like Moe with apraxia.
Moe still doesn't talk. Not even a little bit.
I mean, he makes a lot of sounds, but very rarely are they even context-appropriate approximations. And of course, speech therapy isn't just about talking. His receptive language and communication skills (like pointing and gesturing and nodding yes and no) have greatly improved, especially in the last year.
Moe is a bright kid. He's engaged with people and his surroundings. He tries hard. But the language part of his brain is severely delayed. We know the motor planning piece is a big challenge. He will often shape his mouth correctly, but can't get the breath and sound. Or he makes the sound but can't shape his mouth. Beyond that, it is hard to say why language is so hard for him.
Moe's frustration level and associated behaviors have been increasing in speech therapy. On Monday, he tried to bite the SLP, grabbing and tearing her shirt. I felt terrible. Truthfully, I've been dreading taking Moe for a while. We spend a lot of time managing behaviors, working on the same sounds, working on a wide variety of activities but in the same office environment.
Yesterday, I received a call from the director of the clinic. She is a very intelligent, kind woman. Unlike other people we've worked with, she never implied Moe was a problem. She emphasized how much our SLP adores our family. But she made the point that after the length of time we've been working together, if the therapy is appropriate, we should see more progress. She made the point that we have to listen to what Moe is telling us. Speech therapy, at least the kind they do in this practice, isn't working for him right now.
But how do you give up speech therapy when your kid isn't talking?
She suggested another practice that is set up to incorporate OT and speech together. She suggested that maybe we also take a break for a bit. Sometimes the greatest progress happens during the down times. And if there's anything I've learned about Moe, it's that he needs to get there on his own. We can show and teach, but if his brain isn't ready for speech, there isn't much we can do.
On the one hand, it is devastating. It is hard not to feel like they are giving up on him. But I know in my heart, she's right. It isn't working for him.
But speech wasn't working. OT wasn't working. School wasn't working. Some days, it seems nobody knows how to help him.
We are still meeting weekly with an AAC specialist, who is also an SLP. But the truth is, he's struggling there as well. I'll write more about that another day.
The AAC specialist talks a lot about "total communication," or teaching Moe to communicate in any (appropriate, non-aggressive) way he can: gestures, sounds, signs, and the speech device. Of course, we respect all forms of communication throughout the day, but I'd like to speak with her more about incorporating that into our sessions (rather than just focusing on AAC).
But for now, we're taking a break from speech therapy.