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  • Writer's pictureSparkle Allen Hoston

Speech Therapy and the Beginning of My Frustration

Updated: Apr 30

Dedicated to Ms. Laura. Thank you for supporting DJ and our family during the early stages of DJ's development and journey as a person with autism.

Speech Therapy

DJ continued to have virtual speech therapy sessions after his diagnosis, but had a challenging time staying focused on the computer and engaged with Ms. Laura, his speech-language pathology assistant. The sessions quickly turned into one-on-one meetings between me and her.

During the sessions, Ms. Laura shared information relating to autism and it’s impact on my son’s speech and language skills. She helped me to understand DJ’s way of communicating, which at the time was crying and hand-leading, and she taught me different methods to help him develop his skills. These methods included pictures and sign language. DJ took to sign language really well, with his first few signs being “more”, “eat”, and “please”.

Shortly after introducing DJ to sign language, I began working with him on learning letters, numbers, and colors. Ms. Laura helped me to develop a daily schedule and she provided me with a folder of square-shaped pictures of DJ's favorite foods, activities, and everyday tasks like toileting and bathing. Ms. Laura also added a laminated copy of our daily schedule and strips of velcro so that we could attach the pictures to the schedule and to objects in our home. I tried working with my son on using the pictures to express his wants and needs, but this seemed challenging for him to do. Eventually, I stopped trying, allowing my frustrations and resentment towards my husband to take a toll on me.

The Beginning of My Frustration

After DJ’s diagnosis, my husband and I decided that he’d continue to work full-time and I’d work part-time and tend to DJ. De'Unte Sr. took part in some sessions with me and Ms. Laura, but eventually stopped because they conflicted with his time of rest. De'Unte Sr. worked overnights as a stocker with The Home Depot and I worked mornings as a food delivery driver with Door Dash.

After work, I’d come home and go over lessons with DJ. I’d also do my best to keep our home clean, prepare meals, and complete other household chores like laundry. For a period of time, our daily schedule seemed useful- my husband would handle morning tasks like preparing breakfast for our son and potty training and I’d handle afternoon and evening tasks like grocery shopping and making sure our son had time outdoors. Our schedule was color-coded- orange for DJ, blue for De'Unte Sr., and green for me- which helped us to decipher which tasks belonged to who. Overtime though, I became responsible for the majority of things.

De'Unte Sr.'s primary focus was making sure that we had enough money to cover our expenses and so, in addition to working full-time at The Home Depot, he worked throughout the week and on weekends as a mobile barber. My husband was tired and stressed most days, but that didn’t stop him from pushing to provide for us and I appreciated that. Still, I wished that he’d help out more with DJ as it related to him being autistic.

Everything concerning DJ and autism fell on me- his speech therapy sessions and lessons, completing paperwork for ABA therapy and other intervention services, and enrolling DJ into school. I’d complain about this to De'Unte Sr. from time to time and he’d dismiss it, saying that he didn’t know how to do all that I was doing. Truthfully, I didn’t know how to go about things either but I was trying and I needed him to try too. My husband would also use work as an excuse for his lack of support and so I let it go.

I started to become really sad and irritable during sessions with Ms. Laura and she could see it. She’d give me time to express how frustrated and overwhelmed I felt and she’d give her advice. Ms. Laura shared that my situation was similar to other families and that mothers usually take on the majority of the responsibility when caring for a child with special needs. I told her that I was having a challenging time balancing work and tending to DJ. I also expressed that my family and I were struggling financially and weren’t sure how we’d be able to cover services for DJ. Ms. Laura suggested that I apply for Medi-Cal and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Shortly after applying for Medi-Cal, I learned that someone had been using my name and information to receive unemployment benefits. This caused the application to be denied as it appeared that me and my family were earning more money than I reported.

Share Your Thoughts and Experiences in the Comments Section Below!

Caring for a child with special needs is overwhelming at times and can impact the dynamics of a household. What are some of the challenges that you've experienced? How have you been able to balance work, household and personal responsibilities, and caring for your child/children?

Next series post: "Challenges with Medi-Cal and SSI


About the Writer

Sparkle Allen Hoston is an autism advocate, content creator, and stay-at-home mother from Oakland, CA.

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