Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not for the Faint-Hearted

Although we weren't incredibly busy this past weekend, it felt busy. Partly because David was home for 4 days due to the holiday, but part of it was due to the things I was thinking about, namely Jessica's speech therapy. Jessica is a truly amazing kid. We have not had one bit of jealous behavior out of Jessica with the birth of baby John. She is always very sweet and kind, not only to her baby brother, but anyone she is around....well, except for when she doesn't see a kid standing there and accidentally runs over them! She has always been like this.

I remember one time when she was about 20 months old, she saw a special needs baby at the Open Gym we sometimes go play at, and she thought that baby was just the coolest thing and wanted to sit there and play/talk to the baby instead of playing with all of the cool gym equipment. Jessica is typically more interested in things of a mechanical nature rather than of a social nature, so I was particularly surprised by that instance. Having worked as a School Psychologist, I was particularly touched to see how Jessica reacted to a baby that clearly looked different. I know some of that is just natural because while young children are born curious, they are not born prejudice; however, they are also not born knowing appropriate social skills, which is clearly evident in the toddler years!

I think, in some ways, we have been able to enjoy Jessica being a baby for longer than most parents because of her speech delay. It is bittersweet. I am truly treasuring this time that we have with her being the sweet, kindhearted child that she is, and I hope that much of that will remain with her as she grows up. However, it has also been kind of scary. I knew from the time Jessica was a month or two old that we were going to have some challenges at some point with learning. Don't get me wrong, she is an incredibly smart 2 year old. She can solve mechanical problems the average 5 year old can't solve. She can also work 50 piece puzzles. However, we have had to fight tooth and nail for almost every word in her vocabulary.

Many times when people are talking about speech therapy for a young child, they are talking about an articulation problem. Basically they have trouble with some of the sounds. Jessica does not have that problem. We think it could be some kind of Central Auditory Processing problem. It's like she cannot learn things orally. It's incredibly difficult to get her attention. The Speech Therapist's report said that it required maximum effort to get Jessica's attention. Also the way she has been learning language is really, really weird. Even the Speech Therapist thought it was odd. You know how most kids learn lots of nouns first? Well, Jessica started out with some of every part of speech...even articles.

I fully expected for Jessica to have trouble once she entered school with paying attention and anything that required oral learning, but I did not expect learning to talk to be such a struggle for her. A friend of mine, who is a Kindergarten teacher summed it up best: Jessica's first language is math, and it is like she is learning English as a second language. At this point, I don't know where we are going next. All I know is that I need to keep my eyes on the ball and work really hard at home to help emphasize what we are doing in speech and take it one day at a time.

The area we are in has excellent schools; however, support services tend to be more on par with what I was used to in Mississippi. I know (from talking with other professionals in the area) that I am the most qualified person in the area to work with Jessica. Honestly, I have to say in some ways I wouldn't want it any other way. I know myself as a professional and as a parent, and I wouldn't want to give that responsibility to anyone else. However, I also have to say that it is very....intimidating to be the one responsible for working with your own child....especially when I don't recall working with a child in the ADHD-type realm that was this severe.

Parenting is not for the faint-hearted. It will bring any insecurity you have straight to the surface. Now to get some sleep and have a smiling face in the morning.

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