Monday, September 20, 2010

Giraffe Farming

Our son Samuel has a speech delay.  It used to be quite pronounced.  On his third birthday, he couldn't even say "Mommy."  Now, at almost four (this week, in fact), he is a completely different kid.  But, he still sees a speech therapist.  Last week, we had to go meet the new one.

Every time he moves on to a new program, he must be re-evaluated.  So, I schlepped him, and his older brother, and his younger sister, down to the elementary school.  The therapist wanted me to stay, in case Sam became uncomfortable.  The other kids and I waited in an adjacent room.

I listened through the doorway as Sam identified all of his letters and colors and shapes and animals (you should hear him say, "giraffe.") and articles of clothing and foods.  Of course he knows all of his foods.  His first speech therapist kept trying to prompt him with "Cow says mmm...?"  Sam learned to say "pizza" long before he learned to moo.

At some point, I had to focus on the two children in the room with me, and lost track of Sam's progress.  It wasn't a long evaluation this time, and in about thirty minutes the therapist came in to talk to me.

"He is doing really well," she said.  "But..."  She hesitated, like she was afraid to tell me what came next.  He is doing really well, but he is color blind.  He is doing really well, but he has dyslexia.  He is doing really well, but... WHAT?

"He has a hard time telling his farm animals from his zoo animals."

The words hung in the air for a few, long seconds.  The therapist kept one manicured hand to her chest, as if to say, "I am soooo sorry."

"He has a hard time telling his farm animals from his zoo animals."

I let her words sink in.  It was as if something light had been thrown at me, by someone pretending it was very heavy.

"He has a hard time telling his farm animals from his zoo animals."

"Who freaking cares?" I said.

Okay, I didn't say that.  I didn't even have to restrain myself from saying that.  But, I did think it.

"He has a hard time telling his farm animals from his zoo animals."

This was obviously a point of some concern to the woman.  How, as a mother, and a practical human being, was I to respond?

"We have taught him to tell the difference between the pets and the food."

"We don't believe in zoos, as such.  Ask him to separate the animals by continent of origin."

"Try wild versus domesticated."

I simply told her, Sam has not had much experience with either farms or zoos, and that I wasn't too concerned about it.  She accepted my explanation, but she was still concerned, I could tell.

I get the distinct impression that the whole "farm v. zoo" thing is some kind of arbitrary, developmental hoop through which my son must jump.  Maybe he will, maybe he won't. 

We have different hoops here at home.  On Sam's fourth birthday, he can say, "giraffe," and "pizza," and "I love you, Mommy."  We're good.


  1. oh my gosh. that's actually quite funny that the therapist was even concerned with that! that's amazing progress in a year. good on ya samuel! :)

  2. I had an experience like that once. I kept telling a teacher about an issue that my daughter was having and she kept telling me something else.

    I wanted to say, "Are we on the same page here?"

    Farm animals and zoo animals...pleeeease! I even have that thought before coosing one or the other.

    Happy Birthday Sam!

  3. It's late. I meant, I even have to think about that before choosing one or the other.

  4. This is a total riot. I'm honestly surprised that you didn't at least have to bite your tongue not to say something snarky. I would have just laughed out loud. Of course, the therapist probably would have wanted to evaluate me next... Yay for Samuel! What great progress!
    Oh, and the "difference between the pets and the food" line? Classic. :)

  5. LOL!!! It is amazing what some people think is soooo important for my child. I am proud of you for holding your tongue. Hey our boys are really close in age! Happy Birthday Sam.

  6. Can he tell the difference between a helpful therapist and a crazy one?

  7. Oh brother! AND, may I add a bit annoying!??

    So glad he is making improvement! NUFF said!

  8. Another hilarious post! I laughed out loud. I have a friend who is a child development specialist and sometimes I think she is a bit too focussed on the tiny little things like you describe - kind of like the dental hygenist that acts like flossing should be some kind of form of worship. Yah, whatever.