Maritza Ruiz-Kim

Artist, San Francisco Bay Area

Speaking of Intervention

Little Zee is just a wild man. I think he has inherited the absolute Life is Mine to Take kind of perspective that I think his dad had as a boy. His daddy was definitely a force to be reckoned with as a little one. I hear stories from his mom, and I know Zee has only just begun. When they went out to restaurants, GK would eat eat eat fast then hop down and run around the restaurant like an animal. I am told he also liked to yank the tablecloth out from under the plates. Yes. GK. He’s all orderly and responsible now (what happened?) (and how can I have Zee undergo the same transformation?) 🙂 but back then, GK was the one who, when he was quiet, made his Umma worry, then made her sorry for waiting a minute before checking on him.

About Zee and his speech.

It’s a thing we’ve worked on, and six months ago he was evaluated, and determined to be not far enough behind to get speech therapy by the County Regional Center that handles these things. And six months passed and I hear the same things in him. It’s nuanced, it’s not that he isn’t growing in comprehension, in awareness, in vocabulary. But there’s a peculiar way to how he speaks that just seems to be asking for intervention.

Why is there so much stigma associated with being behind in some way for kids? I know my kid and his incredible value. But how many times have I told people I’m concerned about his speech to either be told a.) He’s fine, all kids are different or b.) oh, but he’s smart, why are you worried or c.) he’ll grow out of it. Why are people afraid I am going to label my kid with something? And if he did get a label, so what? I don’ t think there’s anything to feel shame about in having a diagnosis, why should anyone else? What’s wrong with looking into what’s going on with him, when I know that what I am seeing in him is not the usual speech development track of a growing toddler? I am not afraid of finding out something I already know is true. What I’ve wanted is someone to help me to help him. I know what I see. And I know he needs help.

And finally, yes finally, I have a speech therapist & an occupational therapist seeing what I see. They are the same ones who saw him six months ago, but we saw eye to eye this time. They didn’t change their hypothesis for him, but with his getting closer to three and not having improved in certain articulations, Z’s issues are more apparent. It’s obvious now! They still see him developmentally on track, but they see his articulation in language stalled. They see him with maybe some structural issue or allergy issue or something like that, making him use his mouth but not his upper facial area to speak. (Try it- plug your nose and at the same time, make an effort to only use sound generated in your mouth to speak, nothing above that. That’s how Z talks.) “Elephant” is “Epit” and “Happy Halloween” is “Apee Aweeeee” and “Trick or Treat” is “ti-toh-tee”. (He doesn’t force air through his nose as he speaks. If you notice, even if you say “what? and emphasize the T, it involves the nose.) (That’s my layman’s explanation.) (Here’s another approach: if you have a really really bad cold, and both nasal passages are completely blocked, you probably only use your mouth area to speak. It’s like that!)

Still, though, he doesn’t qualify for their services. But I can seek private speech therapy especially if medical doctors look at his physical side of the story and they don’t come up with anything. Finally, I have someone giving me the green light to get him therapy.

I just love it when I can say, I knew it! I knew I was right! Because really Zee has so much more to say, and with the right help, he can say it. He is a bright light of a boy who pumps his fists when he’s given food he loves, who screams with joy at a bucket full of candy, whose happiness is infectious and dares you to not join him. I embrace him, all of him. I embrace his strengths, and I am there to help him navigate through his weaknesses.

And I dare anyone to even think that him having a speech delay means that something is wrong with him.  All I want is solutions for him, I don’t care about anything else.

I just want him to be free to be the whole Zee that he is.

2 Replies to “Speaking of Intervention”

  • Gene was a wild kid huh? That’s funny, he seems so calm now. Zach is a cool kid, one day he’ll be all reserved like his dad and you’ll have all these stories to tell.

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