Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Let's Start at the Very Beginning.

Before we started our journey with Max, the basics of communication (outside of learning all the juicy French curse words before my Grade 7 trip to Quebec City) had never crossed my mind. Most kids just start talking, but when your child doesn't come to words easily, respond to his name, or lock eyes with you, you have to go back to basics.Part of Max's treatment includes weekly speech therapy sessions. What is interesting about speech therapy, is it doesn't necessarily focus on speech. Max's speech therapy focuses on eye contact, turn taking, and appropriate play. If you think about it, these three things are the keys to communicating. If you don't know how to look at someone for a response or cue, wait or take your turn, and follow with the appropriate response, you are never going to be able to converse.Early sessions focused strictly on getting Max to make eye contact. This is something we still work on, but it comes much more easily to him now. What has been more challenging for Max is playing appropriately with toys. For the longest time all he wanted to do was either put toys in his mouth or throw them. At our first session with his new speech therapist Emily, he cried for about half of it, and I had to hold him in place and take his hands to get him to participate in each activity. The second session went maybe a little better, and then we missed two weeks due to illness.To make up the missed sessions, we had to move Max's appointment time to the afternoon (his sessions had previously been in the morning). This may have been part of his breakthrough. At the first afternoon session, after the customary meltdown (all appointments start this way), Emily introduced a new toy. Low and behold, Max sat down and played. He made eye contact, he shrieked in excitement, he didn't try to throw the toy. I was so happy I almost cried. I think Emily was relieved we had finally broken through.
Since that session, Max has improved each week. This week he participated in seven activities in a row. There was still some fussing and objecting, but once he got the complaining out of the way, he got down to playing, making eye contact and taking turns. With most kids, you don't get a chance to appreciate these small steps because they leap from stacking blocks to playing dress up and you don't have to work for it. When your child needs more help, you cherish each tiny milestone and celebrate it like he just earned his MBA. Way to go Max!


  1. Way to go Max!! He did great with the eye contact on Saturday. He's a trooper and every time I see him I'm amazed at the strides he's making. And he's just cute as a button. Shane had a blast playing with him too.

  2. Anonymous11:30 a.m.

    you cant believe how happy i am to hear this small anecdote of success.
    i was really shaken when i read your previous post.
    i congratulate you on facing this situation, wish max all the best and wish you and scott a lot of heart and braveness.
    i know little about these issues, but the spectrum of possibilities is pretty large and i hope and it seems it's towards 'better' part of it.
    thanks for sharing this with us

    word verification: bless