When we were expecting our 7-year-old son, Sport, we were very aware of the risks of a second boy with Autism. I’ve never been a fan of prenatal testing of any type (not that it would have picked up autism anyway), so we were carefully watching his milestones. Sport was very verbal and social right from the beginning. The problem was that you couldn’t understand anything he said! Being the mom, I probably was the closest thing to an interpreter that he had.
When he was three, he was asked to give his first talk at church. He got up there and said every word into the microphone. Sadly, because the kids couldn’t understand what he said, some of them laughed and we couldn’t get him to give another talk for a couple of years. He would accept the assignment, prepare, and then when the time came to actually say the words to the unappreciative crowd, he would clam up and I would end up giving the talk for him. By the time he was four, our doctor suggested we have him tested for a communications disorder, oh and while we were at it, how about testing him for autism as well?! So we took him to the clinic and had several doctors test his hearing and his speech. Then finally he took the autism test. It took the last doctor about 2 minutes to determine that we were wasting his time. Our little Sport was not even a tiny bit autistic, he just had trouble speaking.
Once again we were dealing with an IEP and speech therapists. Even though he hadn’t started kindergarten yet, we were sent to our neighborhood school for speech therapy twice a week. Summer was approaching and he only had three months before school started. His preschool teacher understood about half of what he said. I was at about 75% with his dad and siblings around 60%. He was incredibly bright but the words were garbled like he’d been sucking on marbles. We decided to put him in an extra day of private speech therapy as well. We practiced every day. He had a deck of cards with beginning sounds and we would drill and drill and drill. He had little green paper frogs that did backflips when he performed well and he worked really hard.
Kindergarten started and some of the kids called him a baby and bullied him a little because he was rather unintelligible especially when he got excited and spoke fast. But eventually he found a few good kids who didn’t care and were willing to include him anyway. It took him until the first part of 2nd grade before he was finally released from the IEP. He’s a terrific kid and he just made his debut in Swan Lake as the trumpeter. Not that his speech impediment would have mattered there, nobody speaks during a ballet…except my four-year-old grandson, Burrito. During a beautiful, quiet, girls-on-their-toes scene, he spotted Princess’s friend. "ABBY!" he yelled in his loudest voice. Bossy turned bright red, "Shhhh!" she whispered. But it was too late. Even Princess who was in the dressing room recognized his voice. Nope. He won’t need any speech therapy, it was LOUD and clear.