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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: Did I cause her apraxia?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Did I cause her apraxia?

It starts with a question: 
Did I cause her apraxia?  I know I'm not the only mom to wonder this, or worse, believe this.  This is where the guilt sets in.  It set in early and would tap on my shoulder in the shower, at lunch, or when I was trying to go to bed.

Even though I'm an SLP, and I tell parents all the time that the speech delays are not their fault, I still felt like somehow I must have done something wrong.  Maybe my C-Section had something to do with it.  Could it have been the petocin, the pain meds, the stress? Maybe if I had only taken my pre-natal vitamins more strictly and just dealt with the fact they made me sick.  Then, after she was born, maybe I didn't talk to her enough.  Maybe I didn't give her enough attention.  Maybe it's because I went back to work and she was sad her mom wasn't there full time.  Maybe it's because I talked to her TOO much.  I was trying TOO hard to make her talk she never had a chance to just be herself.

Ugh, enough already!  It's exhausting to feel this way.  It's exhausting to go through every scenario in my mind wondering if there was something else I could have done, not done, tried to do.  She has apraxia and the truth is, there is nothing I could have done to prevent it.

I know it's not my fault, but....is it really not my fault?
Now, I just have to believe this. That's the hard part. I'm not alone because I read stories almost daily on my support group page of parents wondering if it was the c-section, should they have breastfed or breastfed longer?  Was it the food they ate, a cold they got, a toxin they were exposed to......the list goes on.  Theories with no basis that mothers will beat themselves up over.  Well, I want to tell you to stop it.  I know it's hard, I know it's still in the back of your mind, but if our thoughts become our truths, then this thought process is a cancer.   Further more, it doesn't matter.  It doesn't change the fact your child or my child has it.  What does matter are our actions right now to make it better.  To fight for our child and help them through it.

How I actually banished the guilt
I have finally shed my guilt over it, and the credit is due to my son.  My typically developing son who is so eager to be older and to grow up.  He learns things and picks up things without me literally doing anything.  He is 18 months and already sings his ABC''s.  I have NEVER worked on this song with him. That's how easy talking is supposed to be.  Despite my daily dose of the alphabet song with Ashlynn well into her third year, she only could sing it at 3 1/2.  My son, on the other hand, picked up the iPad, listened to it on repeat for a couple days, and started singing it.  I remember watching a video on facebook of a friend's  2 year old when Ashlynn was the same age and crying thinking what a bad mom I was.  This little girl was younger than Ashlynn, singing her ABC's and I'm supposed to be an SLP no less and still my little girl wasn't singing it.

Last night we were eating noodles for dinner.  My four year old with apraxia kept resorting to using her fingers, and I kept prompting her helping her to use her fork.  It's hard to pick up spaghetti noodles that need to be scooped rather than stabbed.  I briefly looked back at my son in his highchair, and he was not only scooping up the noodles like a pro, but he was stabilizing the bowl with his other hand to steady it.  I looked at this situation in awe.  Again, I have maybe once showed my son how to scoop with a fork instead of stab, and here he was, doing it as well, if not better, than Ashlynn.  That's how easy it's supposed to be.  He picked that up without any special help from me, and even after years of practice with Ashlynn, she still has a hard time.

I start to realize even more, her progress or lack of progress or slow progress is apraxia's fault.  It's not my fault or her fault.  It's not anyone's fault. 

This morning I was asking my kids what they wanted for breakfast.  I threw out two ideas to my son and he shook his head and said 'no.'  I have never taught him the word no.  I never had to teach him that instead of stomping his feet and throwing a tantrum, he could simply say, 'no.'  He just does it.  There was a time that the child throwing tantrums instead of saying 'no' was my daughter at 2 1/2.  Myself, my husband, and my mother-in-law literally had to tell her for months to stop and say 'no.'  Yes, that happened.  I actually had to teach a child to say NO.  Chances are if you have a child with apraxia, you have been there done that. 

If you are a mother and are looking for something to fault, then I suggest you personify apraxia and fault the disorder.  It's not your fault.  You hear me?? It's NOT your fault.  Even if you have two kids with it, it's still not your fault.  Stop the guilt.  Stop the obsession with trying to figure out why your child has it.  It doesn't matter anyway.

I say this to you again as a parent AND an SLP; talking should be easy.  Though it is a highly complex skill that parents only fully realize when they see their child struggle, a child should talk regardless of what you did or didn't do.

I just want to say one more thing.  I think parents get the message that it's their fault when the SLP (myself included) gives them suggestions for home.  These suggestions might be to make their child grunt or make some type of sound or word approximation everytime they want something.  Don't let them get away with saying a sound wrong that you have heard them say correctly in therapy.  Don't let them point and give them what they want when they can say a word for it etc. etc.

I want to tell you we say these things not to fault you.  Parents of typically developing children didn't make their child talk.  Their child just naturally did so.  Don't listen to your family member, or well meaning friend or whomever tell you it is your fault because you never made them talk.  Children don't have to be made to talk.  I really  BELIEVE this now with my son.  I have never made him talk.  He talks so much I can't make him stop talking. In fact, the one time I did try to teach him a word I was trying to get him to say "Jake" when requesting the show "Jake and the Neverland Pirates," since Jake would be easier to say.  Well guess what?   He didn't say Jake, he said pirates instead and has continued to do so.  So there you go.  I am the same mom, the same SLP I was with him as I was with Ashlynn, and I am here to tell you I tried my DANGDEST to get her to talk.  I did everything I knew how to do as a professional.  Guess what though?  She has APRAXIA.

So for now, I've channeled all that guilt and blamed it on Apraxia.  I wish you the same!

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2 Comments:

At January 26, 2014 at 7:59 PM , Blogger M Brunson said...

love, love, love this1 thank you11

 
At January 28, 2014 at 8:03 AM , Anonymous Kate said...

I love, love, love this! I have thought all of these things. On the surface, my logical side tries not to blame myself...and then my worry and fear rises up to the surface. What if I did something wrong? What if I didn't talk enough? What if I make life to easy for him and he doesn't have to talk? etc? Now that I have a 1 year old along side my 3 year old son I too see how easy it should be. Its crushing and relieving all at the same time. I wish it wasn't so hard for Cooper. Thanks for posting!

 

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