I arrive at your kindy, midway through a Wednesday to pick you up for your weekly speech therapy appointment. As I go to ring the doorbell I have a glimpse of the children playing in the garden through the metal railings. I hear uproarious giggling. I see a flash of green shirt darting under the fort to hide. It’s a game of chasey. And it’s you, Noah. Playing with other children and laughing.
A year ago you would be quietly playing by yourself in the dirt pit. Digging, building, always gripping the toy tool box as if your life depended on it. Today, I’m told you agreed to share the tool box. You no longer cart if everywhere with you during play time as a security blanket in a world where you cannot verbally communicate. That’s no longer your world.
Your world is opening up. Words are coming thick and fast. You’re mastering sentences and sounds. You’re gaining confidence and talking with other children, not just the teachers. And you’re showing us so many things you have learnt.
Another day you are out on the verandah making play dough. Your teacher is showing everyone the recipe. I’m about to leave and hear her ask, “Does anyone know what number this is?” I hear a little voice pipe up, “Four!” It’s so clear. There’s an /f/ sound at the start – a sound we worked on for weeks this year and weeks last year. I pop out to see who answered as I wasn’t sure it was you. Your teacher smiles and says you picked out the number four. It was you.
You are no longer that two year old boy, crying, frustrated and unable to make your mouth cooperate with what you wanted to say. You’ve worked hard to develop sounds, syllables, words and phrases. You’ve put up with Mummy drilling you again and again. “Say it again. Bite and blow. No, bite and blow. F-f-four.” You’ve tolerated my hands on your face, showing you how to position your lips, teeth and tongue to produce different sounds. You’ve followed and copied hand signals that cue target sounds. We’ve worked our way through 5 scrap books of speech activities provided by your speech therapists…and you still ask for the ‘tool one’ which was one of the first! I know you get tired of it sometimes, yet most of the time you suck it up, give it another go and cooperate to get better at something that is so difficult for you – talking.
We hear you, Noah. At age 5, you amaze us every day. Tenacity. Perseverance. Creativity. Focus. Cuteness. You’ve got this and more. We know we still face a lot of challenges and much more speech therapy to get those missing sounds, tricky sound transitions and clear multisyllabic words. As a wise person said, “Apraxia is a marathon, not a sprint.” I’m happy to be your training buddy. We all are.
Love you lots,
PS. Noah’s video message for Apraxia Awareness Day May 2015 – this is the first year Noah has had enough speech to attempt a video. He said his first sentence on Feb 14, 2014. This was done May 12, 2015