A success story.

10 02 2011

I was asked to write this up for the Speech and Language Services in Nelson, since they are having an open house/celebration this February. I’d thought I would share it with you all.

Nick’s Story

When my son was a baby, we sometimes called him Silent Sam. He spoke a few words before the age of one, much to our delight, but then, mysteriously, would never utter the same word again. If we urged him to repeat that word, he would hang his little head, as if in shame.

Nick was a charming baby, full of smiles. His easy-going nature and intelligence shone, and he was very easy to love. His babbling, though, was very limited. The speech milestones were slow in coming; even though he clearly understood everything we said to him, he had a difficult time communicating with us.

I knew something was going on. Thankfully, my doctor put a referral through to the Speech and Language Services here in Nelson when he was 18 months old. At that time, he was saying only “Mama” and “Dada”. By the time he was two and we received the call for an assessment, he still had no new words.

We met with Rosie Eberle, SLP, in January of 2001. Upon assessment of Nick, we learned he has Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

Grief fell over me. In a way, I felt robbed of that “perfect child”. Learning about Apraxia, though, gave me insight to my son that relieved much of my angst. It explained so much about his behaviour and inability to talk. Even though I was terribly sad for my son, I knew I had to be strong and help him every way I could so that he had every chance to meet this head-on and ultimately overcome this to lead a rewarding and rich life.

Immediately, Rosie started therapy with Nick. I learned sign language along with him, so that he could communicate his needs to us without the added frustration of difficult speech. This drastically alleviated his own level of distress. He could tell me he wanted more, or that he wanted to play, or that he was thirsty. The joy in his face when he could “speak” to us through sign was immeasurable.

There were bumps in the road. I was met with disapproval, distrust, doubt and suspicion about his diagnosis, sometimes even from people in our family. The decision to have my son in therapy and learning sign language was second-guessed by “arm-chair critics”. I was “advised” that his diagnosis was probably wrong, or that he was a “late-bloomer”. I was met with negative judgment and condemnation. I learned to trust my own instincts when met with opposition, and to speak up for my son. I wore the mantle of being his advocate proudly.

But we were also embraced by positive people who were excited about being part of Nick’s “team”. They eagerly learned sign too, helping Nick feel as if he was truly part of everyone’s lives. Love and support were bestowed upon us. Little successes in his speech were celebrated with joy and elation. These people learned to give Nick time to communicate, to have patience when he had difficulty and to love and accept him, no matter what.

Through the three and a half years that Nick was involved with Rosie, his speech flourished. As he learned how to say a word, he would immediately drop that sign. Before we knew it, the 200 or so signs that we had learned were needed less and less, until we stopped signing altogether. By the time he entered the public school system, his speech was on par with other children his own age.

He still struggles with certain sounds. He sees a private speech therapist now, to help him. He will always have Apraxia. But that no longer defines him.

I deeply believe that if it weren’t for early intervention and therapy, I would be telling a different story. I am forever grateful for the quick and loving response of Rosie, my family and friends, and most of all, I am thankful for my son. His hard work and perseverance in overcoming Apraxia is incredibly inspiring, and has shown me how strong, resilient and brave the human spirit is. This was always his journey. I am just lucky enough to walk alongside him.

First kiss.

2 02 2011

I’ve been married for awhile now. This August, we’ll celebrate 12 years married, 17 years together total.

Wow, that was surprisingly painless to type.

Needless to say, there aren’t any more breathless moments when he enters the room. No more waiting by that phone, pining for his call.  Glances from across the room no longer make me feel giddy and slightly nauseous with anticipation. Romance now is defined when he folds the laundry and puts it away, does the dishes, takes the kids and leaves me to revel in delicious silence, and the best yet, offers to “cook” by ordering take-out. Clearly, the man knows how to make me swoon. 

But oh, those moments of infatuation still echo in my heart. Dan was the first (and only) man I have ever fallen in love with. I can still recall the colour of his shirt when I first saw him, walking in to the building supply store where I worked. The dust of his work on his face, and how his hat was slanted backwards. How I asked my friend afterwards who he was, and how I called him a hottie and declared that he was going to be mine. Pushing the other clerk out of the way so I could sell him drywall. Finally seeing him in the bar one night and walking up to him, liquid courage in my hand, saucy and bold, demanding that he take me out. The fine art of flirtation just for him, giddy bravado infused with attraction. 

That first date, gauging one another while playing pool and then heading out to the bar and watching a hypnotist make fools out of the volunteers. Tentative hands touching, then holding on to each other. That long, yet too short walk back to the car in the warm summer night.

The best part of the evening, that unsure moment, will he kiss me? His hands placed tenderly on both sides of my face, tilting me upwards to meet his lips, and that first kiss became ours; soft and shy and powerful. It went on forever in my mind, but all too soon, I was saying goodbye to him, heart still pounding, hands clammy, head whirling.

That night, I went home and wrote in my journal that I had just kissed the man I was going to marry.