Sometimes You Need Words… Or Know What They Are
by the other theo
One of the problems with having a child with apraxia is that there are no words when they would really help.
Here’s a case point: The Peanut was out riding a toddler swing in our back yard a few weeks ago. I was doing a some clean up on our patio, so although I would make sure to give the Peanut a push once in a while… my attention was generally elsewhere. After he’d been in the swing for better part of an hour, I noticed that the swing had stopped and there was a sour, acid odor in the air. When walked around to the front of the swing, I saw that the Peanut had vomited all down his front. I immediately started to clean him (and the swing) up and called to the Missus to get some water in the tub to finish the job.
That left the Missus and me with questions: What happened? Was he coming down with a stomach virus or some stomach flu that was going around at the time? Did all the time in the swing just give him motion sickness? In the week or two previous to the incident, we noticed him opening his mouth and pointing at his tongue. Did he do that in the moving swing and accidentally trigger his gag reflex? With apraxia, these questions have no answers.
It had to be either the gag reflex or motion sickness. He did not throw up again.
Another case in point: On two different nights in the last few weeks, the Peanut has gotten up three plus times in the middle of the night, come down the hall, and crawled into our bed. Each time, either the Missus or I would walk him back to his room and he would fall asleep, only to come back 2-3 hours later.
After the second or third time this happens, a parent wants to ask “what’s wrong?” Are there nightmares? Is it too hot or cold? Is something making noise? Here again, these are questions that the Peanut cannot answer.
More recently, the problem with the Peanut has become not lack of words but loss in translation.
I am very pleased to report that the Peanut is thriving after three weeks in the special ed preschool offered by the local school district. This meant a small explosion of words from him recently, something the Missus and I hardly dared to hope for, much less expect. The last three years have, during the best times, been periods of steady gains. With this, the Peanut is suddenly taking the initiative. He is either making unsolicited attempts to use words to indicate what he wants, or he is more frequently prompting the Missus and me to identify things with words so he can repeat them.
Now the problem is one of translation. As one might expect with a child having difficulty learning to speak, words come out too soft, or in a sing-song higher octave, or are just plain indistinct. At times, it’s like two year old babble all over again, but this time it actually means something. The Missus and I do not want curb this sudden enthusiasm for language, but we also want to respond and reinforce appropriately. So, we find that our language translation skills are suddenly taxed more frequently than they have been for some time.
Given where we’ve been, that’s a high class problem to suddenly have.