You have to fight for what you want. Got it. But how much? And does there always have to be a fight?
Delphine’s been going to speech therapy for years. It’s been hit or miss. Sometimes they’ve been understaffed, other times the provision’s been only through school. Right now, Delph’s got the best speech therapist she’s ever had. Turns out speech therapy has as much to do with personality as it does with therapy – maybe due to all that speaking. For us, Alex the speech therapist is a keeper. We’ve even turned her onto Jane the Virgin. Alex binge-watched it even quicker than we did and we’re all at the same point now, waiting for each new episode to discuss afterwards. Also, Alex wears beautiful silver brogues. And she belly laughs at Delphine’s jokes – no disrespect, but for a Welsh woman that’s unusual.
The result: Delph and I go there with a spring in our steps. Delph loves it. She does the work – she’s nailed the hard ‘G’ sound and she’s working on the ‘x’s. Then something unexpected happened last week. Delph’s got so good, Alex thinks she’s close to being discharged. Suddenly she’s too good.
I sat at the table, stunned by the news. The speech therapy table by the way is about two feet high. It’s a wooden children’s table and has two matching wooden chairs. Delph doesn’t sit there any longer – she sits at Alex’s desk while they work together. There’s no room for three at Alex’s desk, so I still sit at the little table.
‘You don’t think there’s a clinical need to see Delphine anymore?’
Alex shook her head. ‘She’s doing so well. I definitely think I should see her one more time though.’
One more time? My heart sank through my miniature chair. Delphine speaks to people – and mostly clams up. If they have very special, sensitive skills or are her actual family, only then does Delphine comfortably carry on. Usually she turns into that curly-haired, quiet kid. Except recently, Alex has taught her to slow down. Give herself time. Not to worry if she has to repeat herself. How on Earth is it time to give that up? Think, Hannah, think quicker. Or better yet, stall for time.
‘The thing is, Alex…’
Alex nodded in her friendly and practicable way. There’s a reason she’s easy to talk to.
‘The thing is,’ I stuttered. Wait! Just then something hit me. I said, ‘I’ve noticed that Delph’s struggle to spell words often comes at the ends of words. I was wondering if it could be related to her ability to hear how the ends of words actually sound.’
Alex nodded again. Same kind of nod. ‘It sounds like she could need help developing her phonological awareness.’
‘Phonological awareness. Ok. Sounds good. Do you do it? Could you help her with this?’
She blinked. ‘It’s a fairly new thing. Most speech therapists don’t do it.’
Breath holding my end. ‘Yes?’
Alex continued, ‘I do though. I think spelling and literacy has a link with speech therapy that can be worked on and improved.’
I breathed out. OMG. I hadn’t been lying either – I had listened to a radio programme about dyslexia- and it confirmed what Delph’s tutor Linda said to us right at the beginning. Dyslexia is not so much about visually processing the words as hearing them sounded out correctly.
So there, in a micro-moment, we’d figured something out. A way to continue with Alex. It makes me think – so much of writing is about describing micro-moments. Those strange and precious seconds where your life can go either way. I used to go with the flow with them. I fight for directions now.