After a ridiculously long streak of snow and sickness, Em was finally feeling better today when I picked her up to take her to speech therapy. I'll be honest, a lot of times this is an hour I dread. It's important, and I know it's important, but the frustrations usually seem to trump the triumphs, and most of the session is spent with the therapist patiently repeating a word or a question - and Em concentrating all her focus on the wall.
I thought the 10-minute wait for the therapist to call us back was going to undo Em, but we counted and sang and tickled our way through. We walked into a different room than usual (also a potential hazard), but Em shrugged out of her coat and obligingly headed over to the table.
To get things going, the therapist (M) pulled out two flippy toys, the kind that you invert and press into the ground, so they can pop up. They were different sizes and different colors -- neither of which is a way that Em has ever used -- at least not verbally -- to differentiate objects.
I admit it: I was skeptical.
My girl loves to prove me wrong. "Emma, do you want orange or yellow?" M asked, holding one in each hand. Em reached forward, ponytails swinging, to point at M's left hand. "Owange."
I am not at all ashamed to say that I nearly burst into tears. "She never says color names," I said to M, my voice shaking. "I've never heard her say orange."
They kept going, Em giggling every time the toy launched itself into the air. And every time, she made a choice. "Yellow." "Owange." I bit my lip harder and harder.
And then M pulled out a picture board, so Em could choose what she wanted to do. This has been a real trouble spot in previous sessions, one that usually ends with Em putting her thumb in her mouth and wandering away, overwhelmed. When I saw that there were six - SIX! - choices on the board, I felt the encouraging smile fall off my face.
I admit it: I doubted.
My girl is amazing. She not only pulled her choice off the board, she labeled it. "Story." And then she sat in a chair - without wiggling or wandering - and let the therapist M flip through the pages, naming objects when she was asked.
WHEN SHE WAS ASKED.
It's not that Em doesn't know the words, just that she usually doesn't use them when someone's asking her to, unless there's an immediate benefit, like a snack.
And for the rest of the session, she rocked it out. Pointing to her choices, labeling them out loud, and actually participating in the activities she'd selected. I led her out to the car in a daze.
Those are the good days. This is what's possible.
Last night, I sat through a kindergarten roundup and wondered how that could possibly work for my daughter, if our other plans fall through. Today, Em showed me once again how little I really know about what she knows, like she was reminding me of her potential and asking me to keep helping her reach it.