This morning Finn had his first speech therapy session at school. It was a group setting; he will be going twice a week, and one session will be one-on-one, and the other is group. There were two other little boys in the group, so it’s a small group. The other two boys seemed to be a bit older than Finn – maybe 4? I don’t know what their diagnoses are, but neither of them have Down syndrome.
This was really Finn’s very first experience being placed in a group in an unfamiliar setting and being asked to follow instructions from someone outside his family. I was a little anxious about how it would go, and it was a little nerve-wracking for me (I did stay for this session; I sat out of the way so as not to be a distraction). While I have no doubt that Finn understands a whole lot more than he’s able to communicate, I really can’t say for sure just how much he does understand.
The speech therapist played two games with the kids, both of which required them to follow verbal instructions, identify objects on pictures, share, and take turns. It hit me then that this is about far more than learning how to communicate – it’s about learning how to interact with people and the world around him, which is obviously a hugely important life skill.
Finn had trouble with the whole thing. At first he was good about sitting in his chair, but the novelty of that soon wore off and he wanted to explore the room. He can’t match pictures at this point – that’s just beyond the scope of his abilities, so there was some frustration. He was his usual cute, charming self, but stubborn and somewhat uncooperative. Which is why it was nerve-wracking for me. I had to just sit back and let it play out, let the SLP do her thing, and not interfere.
The SLP is very good – she’s warm and unendingly patient, and she spent a few minutes talking to me after class, assuring me that the first few sessions for any three-year old usually go like today went, and that I shouldn’t worry or feel discouraged; it will get better as Finn grows used to the routine.