Sunday, June 29, 2008

Miss Lavonne

If you were born in the sixties like I was, we had Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. Some of you might even remember Hobo Kelly! My kids had Blues Clues. Now, I’m referring to vintage Blues Clues with Steve--not the new guy, (is it Joe)? The original Blues Clues--what a great show! It had good music, beautiful visuals and a little puppy named Blue that you could almost understand when she barked. Our home had many similarities to Steve’s: good music (four-fifths of the family is musical, sorry Tim!), beautiful colors on the walls and furniture throughout, and a little boy named Wylie that you could almost understand when he spoke. It was no surprise that Wylie loved Blue; he loved the show above all others. The puppy always made him smile and laugh.

There was a segment in each show where Blue and Steve would magically “sca-doo” into a book or a refrigerator or a painting. This involved them singing a little jingle and moving their arms and legs to get ready to jump, or sca-doo: “Blue Sca-doo we can, too!” and in they would jump. Wylie loved to sca-doo. He would do it repeatedly even as a four year old preschooler. This was so cute and precious to me. However, it almost proved the undoing of Miss Lavonne.

“Miss Lavonne” was Wylie’s first Speech therapist. She was undoubtedly married and should have been addressed as “Mrs.” with her last name, but Wylie received therapy at the preschool where all the teachers were called “Miss”. Lavonne was no exception. Miss Lavonne worked tirelessly with Wylie. She was very dedicated and brilliantly creative. She had to be. Only those familiar with the craft or benefactors of its service can truly appreciate what these therapists do in one single session. (Think one part herding cats and one part Professor Higgins with Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” and you are beginning to get the gist).

We have stacks of homemade books with clue-stuck pictures of nouns, verbs, colors, numbers and letters. We have sheets and sheets of articulation practice. We have boxed sets of cards depicting the range of human activities and emotions for identification. I would like to say I practiced with Wylie as hard as Miss Lavonne worked with him, but that would not be true. To get any preschooler to produce what Wylie had would be commendable. To do so while that preschooler is constantly “sca-dooing”, perseverating about Mary Poppins and Thunderbirds, all the while chain-smoking his middle fingers is nothing short of a miracle! She worked hard. Granted, she only saw Wylie once a week for forty-five minutes or so, but they were intense, focused minutes. And, because she spent a year with him and I valued her inputs, I trusted her completely when she said “I think Wylie’s needs go beyond speech. I think he should be evaluated to see if he qualifies for more services.” See, during this time, I had been doing my own homework. I had been researching Wylie’s “issues” and “behaviors” independently. I knew there was a word that described my child and no one up to that point had said it.

Until Miss Lavonne did.

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