Tuesday, March 13, 2012

His Voice

written Feb 28, 2012 and saved for the carnival.

Today held one of those moments that will forever be burned into my brain.
It was an usually warm Midwestern winter day. The car read 55-plus degrees and it was sunny and bright but we still drove to pick Georgie up from preschool. I half hoped Cole would fall asleep in the car on the way there; he had been fussy and into everything all morning.

George ran up to me, smiling, saying, “MAMA!” in his loud voice. His teachers told me he had a great day and he ran through the strong breeze to the car. Standing on the sidewalk, he pointed excited to the tires. Jabbering on, he explained, through a language we have dubbed “Preschool Mime” how Daddy had lifted the car up to change a tire. I laughed at the way he held his arms like a forklift and beeped and hummed to show me what he wanted to say. Laughing, I grabbed him into my arms and counted, “One, two, three, UP!” and he said “UH!”

“Uh-PUH!” I said, forcing the “puh” sound out of my mouth.

“PUH!” he said laughing and I hoisted him into the arm and into his car seat.

Suddenly, his mood shifted and he pointed to the seat in front of him, saying, “Ma!”

“You want a book?” I guessed.

“No!”

“A train? A dinosaur book? Baby Brother’s cup?” Each guess was met with a “NO!” and a more emphatic point to the front seat. Finally, it dawned on me. “Oh! You need a snack!”

“Uh-huh!” he nodded. I asked him if he could wait and he scowled and said no. I glanced at the clock.

“Well, if we hurry we can run home and get so fruit leather before we have to pick up Sister.” He nodded and grinned. I carefully pulled out of the car pool lane as he began to jabber on in Preschool Mime about the tire.

“Daddy fixed the tire?” A nod. “Did it have an ow?” A nod again. “Did the car get an ow?”

Then it happened. In the middle of our neighborhood, right by our friend’s house, in the shade of one of her large trees IT happened. As the sky pierced blue and the sun shone into my eyes, my child, at three years and three months said, “Uh-huh. Car. Get. Ow.”

I nearly slammed on the brakes and gave myself whiplash as I spun in my seat and said. “WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

Georgie looked a wee bit frightened. “Car. Get. Owe.” Each word was clear, distinct and carefully pronounced, said in a voice I rarely hear: his normal, not Apraxic voice.

And there, sitting in my crumb filled mini-van in the middle of a quiet street in our neighborhood, I cried. “George! You did it! You said your first sentence! Good for you! You did it!”

It’s not abnormal for children, at the age of three years and three months, to tell stories about events that happen to them. It’s even more normal for them to chatter on and on about something they love. And the sentence “car get ow” could even be considered (dare I say it?) a bit baby-ish for a three year old. But for my son, a child who knows just what he wants to say but cannot send the message from his brain to his mouth to make the sounds, that simple sentence was huge.

A year ago, George was just beginning to make eye contact with strangers, like a store clerk, who tried to engage him. His language was made up almost entirely of the phrase “uh duh duh” and gestures. He had no signs and no word for “Mommy.” He hated to leave my husband or myself because we were his safe people, one of a handful of people on the planet who understood him and what he wanted. A year ago, my son was locked inside himself and we were desperately trying to find him the help he needed.

Now, his vocabulary has grown. He calls me “ma” or “mama” or even “mom” if he is particularly upset with me. He makes noises when he plays and tries to tell me stories. He signs and is trying two word phrases, even if those “words” are just jargon. His jargon itself has changed. He runs off to school- not every time, but he will increasingly leave me without a fuss. He says “no” and can communicate most of his needs to us and to people outside the family. He has gone to two different speech therapists and partaken in a variety of “alternative” therapies (cranial work, hippotherapy and fish oil supplements). He has worked. He has worked hard on something that comes easily to most of us- speech.

I do not know if, tomorrow, he will be able to say the words “car” or “get.” (“Ow” is already a word that he uses frequently.) I do not know if I will continue to hear three word phrases from him. Childhood Apraxia of Speech is funny in that way; one day, he will burst out difficult words like “grandpa” and we may never hear from them again. Other times, he will say something (like “egg”) and the word will hang around.

What I do know is that the phrase “car get ow” uttered on a warm, sunny winter’s day is the most magical phrase I have ever heard. He didn’t just tell me that the car had an ow, he told me that over 18 months of hard, solid work on his part, countless phone calls on mine, many tears, many frustrations and many more triumphs were worth it. He is talking, he will talk, he will have a voice. And it will be his own.

For more information about Childhood Apraxia of Speech, please visit many of the blogs under "This is the way we (blog) roll," click on the "About Apraxia of Speech" in my sidebar or visit "Apraxia-Kids." You can also visit the American Speech, Hearing and Language Assosiation for more information about all speech, hearing and language disorders. (CAS is here.)


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17 comments:

  1. I loved this! In reading how you write what he says, I can hear it so clearly. It is a lot like how my daughter talks. Especially the "Uh Huh" thing now. She has started saying that pretty often recently, so it stood out to me here.

    Congrats on this milestone!

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    1. Thanks! Both Georgie and his younger brother (who likely picked it up from G) say "Uh-huh." It's pretty cute!

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  2. My younger brother had speech delays as a child because of hearing issues. I can remember how frustrated he would become because he couldn't communicate his needs as easily as he wanted. I can remember as a child going with him to weekly speech appointments. I can remember how excited my mom would get behind the viewing glass during his appointments.
    I am so happy you got to experience that with your Georgie! I hope that you get to experience many more of those beautiful little moments.

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  3. I am sitting here cheering for George and for you!! (Even though I'd already heard :))

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    1. Lol, thanks! I keep asking him if the car has an ow in hopes that he will say it again! Lol.

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  4. This made me tear up, in a good way - and you captured the moment beautifully. I am constantly in awe of how meaningful even the smallest moment or achievement is as a parent. The heart-swelling, mind-blowing mini-milestones are amazing.

    Thank you for sharing this!

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  5. This brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful sentence.

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  6. Oh! That is so inspiring. I'm jumping up & down for you and George. (Well, in my head, lol.)

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  7. I found your blog through the Carnival. I can completely relate to this post, as my little boy has a speech delay as well (a developmental delay, but not apraxia, to our knowledge). But every once in a while, he'll spit out something AMAZING (something that would seem like nothing to the parent of a normally-speaking child) that will stop me in my tracks, and it's just pure delight to see the expression on his face, as he realizes he has communicated an idea with us! Aw. It's just wonderful. What a great post, thank you.

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    1. Thank you! He's disorder has made words all that sweeter to us.

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  8. AMAZING Laura! I'm so happy for you and George!!

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  9. Wonderful! I can't imagine how excited you were to hear his first sentence. Was he as excited as you were?

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  10. Amazing! Crying tears of joy for you and Georgie! :)

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  11. How exciting!!!! What a wonderful post!

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