In the early stages of my son’s speech pathology sessions, I had doubts. Not because of the service or care he received, but because of my own, deep rooted and complex feelings about how I was doing as a parent.
He doesn’t need to go.
There’s another kid who has it tougher than mine, so we really don’t need to go.
I asked some of my friends what they thought of my discomfort around attending speech pathology sessions with my son. They said:
Ok, then don’t.
He is clever, he’ll be fine without it.
They wanted to support me and my anxiety, so they gave me the ‘out’ I was searching for.
It was hard for them. They wanted to reassure me rather than sit with me and with the difficult questions, without judgement. I was looking for validation that I was doing a good job and that he was fine and, in their minds, they were being kind. And at the time it absolutely felt like kindness. That is what I wanted.
But I realised that all of this should be about my son. None of it should be about me, or my embarrassment, or even the shame of my embarrassment. I realised that my doubts were turning to anxiety. And this anxiety had led to isolation for both of us. My son was actually happy – it was me bringing this sense of despair to the table.
It occurred to me that I needed to put on my big-girl pants and stay the course. We would continue. The therapist sat with me and listened without judgement, and asked me questions and told me without judgement that the tests we had done showed we must continue.
And I am glad of it. Because at the start, I didn’t really understand what speech therapy could do to change our lives.
We work in the therapy session and we work at home. I’m committed. I know things won’t change without the work – like anything else.
The relational commitment matters so much, too, between the therapist and us. I don’t get told the things that give me an ‘out’. I’m told when things are going well (and they are), and I’m held with care and respect. It is kind and honest. But we have a ‘prize’ we are working toward together. The three ingredients of the therapy (it is intensive, adaptive and joyful) are absolutely driving the changes.
My anxiety has lessened as the developments have been made. I’m not ashamed of those feelings and I recognise they are part of my process and a very hard societal nut to crack. I’m just so relieved I pulled on those big-girl pants when I did. I know some parents who will do anything to push it all away.
SPT is so very grateful to this mother for sharing her story. She wishes to remain anonymous and we will honour that. Her fierce commitment to her son’s development is inspiring. Without a doubt, they will both benefit from her courage.
We recognise that many others come to speech and language therapy with deeply complex anxieties, fears and uncertainties. And there are many more who do not seek therapy at all. We hope this story brings some parents a little closer to comfort about all that speech therapy involves.