Monday, August 20, 2012

Goodbye (unrealistic) dream

Today I'm getting rid of these how-to books and kits for kids with speech problems. They date back to when Ben was a preschooler and I was heavily invested in trying to get him to talk. I brought them in to work years ago to pass along to a speech therapist, but somehow they stuck with me, like the lists of words that Ben spoke as a toddler but hasn't uttered in 15 years.

These books once had a place at home in a cupboard along with bulk quantities of coloured horns of all shapes and sizes, straws, tongue depressors, teddy bear bubble blowers, pink sponges on sticks to stimulate the gums, plastic tubing to chew on and a deck of recipe cards with typed instructions on how to perform a gazillion mouth, tongue and cheek exercises.

If I could only buy enough supplies, perform enough oral-motor exercises, squeeze out enough word attempts.

More to come on why it was particularly hard for me to accept that my child would never speak.


I can't remember exactly when I "gave up" thinking my daughter might learn to communicate verbally. I do know that both her brothers, my sons, hold it as a dream.

Louise, though our kids share different diagnoses, what a similar path we have walked. I have that same cupboard of therapeutic activities and books representing hope that one day our daughter will need them again. It hurts to pass those materials along, because it means acknowledging that those fledgling skills are no more. I try to take solace in the fact that my daughter's interests make them no longer interesting and we can replace them with something more age appropriate if she shows growth again. But still, giving them away is like letting go of hope, which goes against every fiber of my being. I need to replace the old hopes with new ones, I think...

I can completely relate to this post. I remember the heartbreak of watching my younger kids pick up speech so quickly when it was clear that my eldest, despite working so hard in oral and speech therapy, would never speak verbally in the way her younger brother and sister did. At eighteen years old she has never spoken verbally, but her signing vocabulary (still growing!!) makes me so proud and she'll squeal/scream when she's excited, which is such a victory for me. It's sometimes hard to accept that she will never communicate verbally because it sometimes feels as if we've "given up," but over the years we've discovered that she expresses herself very well without words, and her ability to make choices and participate is what really matters, no matter what form that takes.