Ellie and I had our first session today for “It takes two to talk.” Referred by our speech therapist, we are involved in a wonderful program called It takes to talk. The program is designed for children with developmental disabilities and teaches parents skills to enhance their child’s speech. It is a program that has seen tremendous success throughout North America and we are lucky to be part of it. The program consists of one orientation in which your child attends and they asses his or her speech capabilities. Then there are six evening classes where the caregiver is taught tools to enhance speech. These classes are caregiver only and are two and half hours each. Then there are two consultation sessions where the child is included and the teacher assists the parents in utilizing what has been learned. I have been so excited for these classes, ready to tackle speech delays head on! But tonight at our orientation I felt myself reverting to old feelings, feelings I thought had disappeared. There are about six families taking part in this program, all of the children have Down Syndrome. Tonight, all of the kids played and laughed on the classroom floor while we introduced ourselves and shared a common glance, we are in this together, we are dealing with delays. The children ranged in ages, but I saw their similarities, their beautiful almond shaped eyes, their glowing faces, their ability to express their needs without words. I’ve learned that where speech falls behind, facial expression grows. In that room I sat amongst other parents who also feel the words Down Syndrome permeate their every day worlds. It’s easy to forget. To ignore that Ellie has any delays, to forget typical milestones, to think that therapy is not the norm. I love Ellie with all my heart and wouldn’t change one inch of her entire being, in my mind every breath she breathes is perfect. In moments like these I feel thrown back into that time, right after her birth, when I wondered what the future holds. I wonder when I will be able to hear her say “mom.” I wonder if kids in school will be able to understand her. I wonder if I’ll be interpreting for Ellie her entire life. I am a hopeful person, and I have visions of Ellie, strong visions, of her being independent, and giving speeches, and enhancing the world with all she’s overcome, but situations like tonight make me scrunch my eyes and think, we can do all that we can but maybe life will still be hard. That thought can be hard to swallow, but amidst my positivity, it exists. We will continue to see therapists and doctors and specialists and fight for Ellie, because she’s been fighting since day one. And I will be okay with myself for having moments where I am scared and worried. Worry comes from love, I remind myself. I met wonderful children of all different ages tonight. Aside from our dear friends Ophelia and Abigail, this is the first time Ellie has been in a room surrounded by kids who all share her extra chromosome. She must have known she was amongst fighters because she laughed the whole time. I’m ready to learn and highlight pages in a book, and shrug off any fears, we will get through this.
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