A 165-meter zip line through the rainforest, mountain tops, views to the coast. That is the day we planned to celebrate Sam’s ninth birthday. Only the GPS ‘short cut’ led us down some beautiful country roads that became more and more countrified, finally ending in a dirt track with a sign stating ‘4WD access only’. One problem – we didn’t have a 4WD. We could see the mountain top, the place we wanted to be, but we had to go back and take the long route, up the winding mountain roads. It was frustrating, time-consuming and the atmosphere in the car was not conducive to family fun. However, once we arrived, we could laugh again. The views were amazing, the rainforest rich and the excitement of two little boys whizzing down the zip line priceless.
The road to speech has not been an easy one for Noah. It has been much like scaling a mountain. Despite vigorous effort and weariness from the daily, repetitive slog, the goal of articulate, fluent speech seemed to move further away at times. Lately I have felt that we are almost there. And so has Noah. One day while we were waiting for his speech therapist, Noah said, “I think I don’t have much Apraxia any more.” His speech therapist was delighted to overhear this and said I should put it on my blog
Noah has certainly made a lot of progress in these last 12 months. He started school this year and it has been wonderful to see him making friends, talking with his classmates, answering questions in class and rarely being bothered by his Apraxia. He is aware that sometimes he is difficult to understand, but he has the confidence to keep trying.
Noah’s class gave a presentation in chapel today. A few weeks ago, I did my roster day in class and the kids were asked to put up their hand if they thought they could say a prayer in front of the whole church. Noah’s hand shot up. Today Noah got up on stage with four of his classmates to do the closing prayers. Clear enough for everyone to hear, he said, “Dear God, Thank you for sending Jesus to die for us. Amen.”
Three years ago, this was what I wrote on the blog:
We know he will face a number of challenges yet such as interacting with his peers when he reaches school, having to speak in front of a class, learning to read and write which is generally a struggle for children with speech apraxia. Yet we have hope for Noah – we know he has God given gifts and abilities that even now are flourishing, we know that sound by sound, syllable by syllable, word by word, he will learn to talk. We know that as Noah learns to speak, we are being refined too – learning lessons in patience, grace, kindness, perseverance and hope. Yes, I often wonder why it has to be so hard for him and I worry about school and the future. But then I look back at how far he has come in 12 months and I remember the promises of God. Jesus enabled the mute to speak and so Noah will too. And one day we will hear him praise God himself.
Well, one day has arrived. Now we do hear Noah praise God for himself. In our Kidz Blitz program at our church a couple of kids are chosen to pray each week. Last year, Noah was always eager to be chosen. The only problem was no-one could understand him but me. That’s no longer an issue. He is also reading. With daily work on phonics, the little boy who couldn’t tell me what he wanted on his sandwich three years ago is now reading me my bedtime story!
Recently, our other son, Sam wrote about his little brother. Sam is a great encourager of Noah and I thought this was very sweet.
Noah is my little brother. Noah has Apraxia which is a speech disorder. Noah is a boy and he really likes Lego. It took a while to build up Noah’s speech but it was worth the time. Now he talks and talks and talks. I think Noah has worked very hard at his speech. I love Noah. I think Noah is a very nice little brother to have. (by Sam, age 9)
I think Sam is a very nice big brother for Noah to have. As a family, we have learnt a lot over the last few years. I have definitely learned perseverance. We had a child without a voice. Now we have one who ‘talks and talks and talks’. Having just completed another round of speech testing, we can see the huge growth over the last year. So we press on. The mountain peak is in sight. A few more sounds. More work on grammar. Work on inflection and prosody. It won’t be long and we’ll be waving from that mountain top and praising God for bringing to completion this journey to find Noah’s voice.