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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: February 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Her first "favorite"

Kids always seem to have a favorite flavor of the week. Parents probably promote this. What is your favorite color? What was your favorite animal at the zoo? What was your favorite candy you received on Halloween? What is your favorite TV show, movie, toy, food, dessert etc etc. if Ashlynn has ever been partial to anything, we have never known, until last weekend.

We went on a mini vacation basically planned around kid activities. Who knew that becoming a parent would also drastically change your idea of a dream vacation! We went down to our favorite Embassy Suites. There is a separation of the living room and bedroom so we can put our kids to bed and still have some quality time together, free happy hour for the parents, and free hot buffet breakfast for picky kids who have their choice of anything and everything to eat at no cost to us!

A pool for free swimming and hot tubbing is a bonus, and it's next to a bunch of family friendly places, like the Cheyenne mtn zoo. Oh, and it's also next to kid friendly restaurants like Old Chicago and TGI Fridays.

Coming back from the zoo my husband and I were full of "favorite" questions. "What was your favorite animal Ashlynn?" "Did you have fun?" "What was your favorite part?" She didn't really answer. As we got closer to the hotel, she inquired, "Where we goin?" We answered back to the hotel....and that's when we heard it. We heard her first favorite anything in that moment when she was 4.3.

"Yes? That hotel's my favorite!"

My husband laughed and verified, "That hotel's your favorite?"

"Yeah!" she replied.

He turned to me and said aloud what I was already thinking, "That was the first time she's ever said anything was her favorite!"

I don't think many parents with of typically developing kiddos remember what they said was their first favorite. I don't know my 19 month old sons yet, but I also am confident I won't be waiting two more years to hear his favorite anything. With Ashlynn though, we just have always wanted to know her thoughts, her dreams, her fears, her favorites! We knew she liked that hotel as she has been to it at least four times prior, but hearing it was her favorite was just something special that's hard to describe. It's like we finally get to HEAR these things in her own words, and not just from her smile.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

If we don't say we're scared, does it mean we don't have fears?

Ashlynn almost drowned...twice. Okay, maybe I'm being dramatic, but that's how a mother feels when a lifeguard has to jump in and save your child.  The first was during her first ever swim lesson and the second was during a random winter session her Grandpa took her to.  Both times she just walked off the toddler platform as though she could swim, and both times a lifeguard had to dive in a save her.  The first time, she seemed to have forgotten the incident just as quickly as it had happened; but the second left fear, only apparent from her refusal to get in or go near the water two months later.

She never told us she was scared, though we asked and she would nod her head yes. In fact, come to think of it, my now four year old has never told me she was scared.

I remember parts of being four.  I was afraid of everything.  Currently, not much has changed. I've always been afraid of things. I hated the typical things like monsters and ghosts, but clowns and mascots always freaked me out too.  It struck me that though I can tell Ashlynn is afraid now of swimming, she has never told me and that makes me sad.

We always say we want to know their hopes and dreams, but what about their fears? Fear is a human condition. Facing fears is one thing, but kids need and look to parents for reassurance.  How do you reassure your child though, when you don't know what they need reassuring on?

The family took an impromptu, much needed weekend getaway.  After taking Ashlynn to her swim lessons and watching her be afraid to even step in the water, my husband was excited to go to a hotel and practice her swimming.  Ashlynn was doing SO good with swimming last summer, even blowing bubbles and getting her face wet.

Ashlynn acted excited to go swimming.  Kept talking about the pool and asking if we could go swimming.  However, once there, she wouldn't come in despite my husband's gentle prodding with arms outstretched.  If he went to grab her, she'd pull back and start crying.  I got in the pool and tried.  I saw the fear in her eyes.  "Are you scared Ashlynn?"  I asked, and she would cry and say, "yes".  I'd tell her that I'd catch her, but she'd still cry and shake her head no.  I finally said, "Baby, I won't let you fall, ok?"  Immediately I saw the fear leave her eyes and she verified, "yes?"  Realizing her fear was that she would fall, I said again and more confidently, "Ashlynn, I will NEVER let you fall" and then I said a quick prayer as fear gripped ME, that in every situation the Lord would guide my hands so that I would indeed never let her fall.

She extended her arms and swung them around my neck and we entered the pool together. I kept reassuring her that daddy wouldn't let her fall either and she went on to jump into his arms, do her back floats, and blow her bubbles.

One day I know she will express her fears, and as her mother, I will always be here to reassure her, protect her, and just love her.  For now though, I'll continue to do what all mothers who have a child with apraxia do...anticipate their needs, give our best guess at their desires, and express their fears for them until they have a voice to do it all on their own.   

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Her little heart of gold this Valentine's Day

Went to Ashlynn's Valentine Party today, and was so encouraged!  The SLP informed me she has moved out of the cube chair and is now sitting up front by the teacher with reminders to sit criss cross applesauce.  Watching her with the other kids warmed my heart, although I could see how her core seemed much weaker than her peers.  Her back was slumped and she kept having to lean back on her hands for support.  Her focus was better though, not great, but better!  I have to hold onto this because other reports were not so positive. If you are interested, you can read about one of my struggles here: She really does have special needs

Other great news: The SPED teacher informed me she is doing fairly well counting with 1:1 correspondence, and during an activity where the kids had to say a sentence, Ashlynn stood up proudly and said her sentence fairly clearly after the teacher modeled.  The teacher then sang a song twice.  Ashlynn was engaged and smiling.  When the song ended, Ashlynn said loudly, "DO AGAIN!"  The teacher moved on anyway, but it made me smile.  She really seemed like one of the kids today!

I did start to notice when she lost focus.  She is distracted by people.  She wants to know what's going on.  She's making sure everyone is ok.  At one point, a peer was crying and she could not take her eyes off her.  During dancing, that same friend wasn't dancing and Ashlynn came up to her side and danced beside her.  She would hold her hand out as if to say, "I see you.  You matter.  I don't want you to be sad."  During the dancing activity, Ashlynn moved from peer to peer.  Laughing with them, engaging them with her smile, not her words.  She was always usually pretty successful.  A person laughing genuinely and having fun doesn't leave many sour faces  in their wake.

Toward the end of the dance, she ended up next to her BFF.  I know it's her BFF because she talks about this girl all the time, and the girl and her hug when I pick her up from school.  Today though, I got to glimpse into their world.  Ashlynn grabbed her hands so the girl's attention was on her, and just made silly faces and laughed.  The girl couldn't help but laugh along with her proclaiming, "oh Ashlynn, you are so silly!"  They then would jump and dance together!  I can't tell you how happy I am that she has a friend.

It's hard to imagine that just a year ago, she wasn't even talking to her peers in class.  I just can't believe the difference a year makes.  I wish I could go back and tell that mother that everything really WAS going to be OK.  Next year, she would not only talk to kids, but she would have a best friend.  Next year, she would be participating in class, repeating modeled SENTENCES.  However, the sweetest part is that she is still the same sweet Ashlynn with a heart of gold; and I wish I could tell my old self a year ago.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Trust Me, I'm a Mom: Let's Talk Tuesday - SLP Recommended Books For Every Child

Trust Me, I'm a Mom: Let's Talk Tuesday - SLP Recommended Books For Every Child

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

First professional CAS presentation

I stood waiting 30 minutes early to enter the room.  The room where I would present information on my personal and professional experiences and knowledge about Childhood Apraxia of Speech for the first time at a professional conference.

As the door opened, people started clammering for a seat.  I looked around thinking to myself, "are they sure they know they are coming to see me?"  I took my place at the front and started to set up my power point presentation.  My cousin, and SLP from a neighboring school district found me and gave me a much needed hug and wished me good luck.  It wasn't long before the room was so full that the side door had to be opened.  People asked me if I could request more chairs.

I started to feel sick and any hunger feeling I did have during this brief lunch break was long gone.

Soon, people crowded in and just sat on the floor.  They sat in front and in back, and pulled up chairs in the back and side hallway.  I found my mentor in the hallway and leaned on her shoulder proclaiming I was about to be sick.   With a reassuring pat she sent me back in ordering I save her a chair in front.

Soon the announcer came up to introduce me.  Nervously I chatted with him stalling for time.  As he said my name I experienced an almost out of body experience.  I heard him in the background, but I thought of Ashlynn.

I thought of the two boys I had treated with apraxia before her, and how they came to me nonverbal in Kindergarten. I suddenly remembered that I'm giving this talk so that another child with apraxia doesn't have to wait longer than they have to to find their voice.  To say their name.  To tell their parents they love them, or even call their parents by name.  I realized  I have an audience of well meaning, awesome professionals who wake up each morning and help children find their voice and I have first hand experience and professional experience on how to help them make that happen. It was clear from the number in attendance that they want to know more; so, with a big breath I began my presentation drawing strength from my little ones with apraxia who have to be braver than me in that moment,  EVERY moment of their young lives on their journey to find their voice.

If the email inviting me back for next year is any indication, I hope I did them all proud.

A link to my presentation is here: Importance of Differential Diagnosis and Treatment Approach in Childhood Apraxia of Speech

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