Noah: Mummy, Mummy! Where are you Mummy?
Me: Here I am.
Noah: Come quickly. See something AMAZING!
Me: What is it Noah?
Noah: The dust is swirling round and round!
Noah has noticed dust particles, highlighted by the sunlight streaming through a window. The dust particles are moving in circles, caught on invisible currents of air, just like the eddies we see in the water of a stream. I pause to watch and wonder – a beautiful moment, perhaps occurring everyday and long escaping my attention. I pause to laugh – this boy! This boy who could barely put two words together two years ago. This boy who has struggled to speak. This boy who proudly told everyone just 12 months ago, “Merry Tismas e-ry body!” This boy who is expressing his thoughts and showing me the world he sees.
This boy. His name is Noah. He is five years old. He was born with severe Childhood Apraxia of Speech, a neurological condition that impacts on his brain’s ability to send messages to his speech muscles. He has long struggled to communicate and has now completed three years of speech therapy. We have celebrated new words, two word phrases, the first sentence, the first lie, the first whys, the first stuttered stories. And now, Noah has moments where he speaks like the little boy in my dreams so long ago, the little boy who chattered without difficulty, clearly and easily telling me about his day. The little boy who caused my heart to leap with joy, only to be crushingly disappointed when I awoke to the reality of a toddler who could only cry over his frustrated attempts to talk to me.
This boy. Noah – you are amazing. You persevere. No one I know has worked as hard as you to speak. You get better everyday. You are finding sound combinations more easily. We are moving into the territory of grammar. You speak your sentences as best you can with the words you have. Slowly we are working out the intricacies of language – how to phrase questions versus answers, personal pronouns, plurals and tense. I correct you as we practice, “She is climbing. She climbed.” You try again and say, “These sounds are tricky.” You are right. I hug you. You try so hard and we push you more. You’ve been corrected more on your speech than any child of your acquaintance, but you take it so well. You accept our efforts to help you speak more clearly. And it makes we want to cry sometimes.
I want the journey to be over. I want to say apraxia is behind us. But it’s not. You’ve gone from severe to moderate and I am elated. I can’t wait to announce that you are mild, one day in the not so distant future. Each step forward in communication reveals a new challenge…and another…and another.
Let’s not dwell on that for now. After all, there are dust particles to admire. There are Santas to talk to. There are stories to be told. Stories of helicopters, pirates, Papua New Guinea boats, space ships, police and robbers and more. There are songs to sing – the ones you make up so beautifully. You praise God in your own sweet voice, making up words that express your love for him. God is good. We’ve prayed and hoped for so long to see you come to this point of freely communicating and we have seen those prayers answered.
Miracles do happen. Mostly these are not spontaneous healings where the touch of God is like a bolt of lightning. Most miracles unfold slowly, like the petals of a beautiful rose. These miracles are only revealed when we pause to reflect on a long journey, appreciating the touch of God that has helped us to persevere through times of seemingly little progress, looking back to see how far we have come and celebrating what has come to pass. For nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
In just two months, Noah’s speech has greatly improved. I couldn’t believe the difference in Noah’s speech in a video I took about 2 ½ months ago compared to one I took a couple of weeks ago. Here he tells us about some of the Lego helicopters he has built up. Below I repost the original video for comparison. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Noah – September 2015 (video 1)
Noah – November 2015 (video 2)