Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Complacency and Marathons

When I finally accepted that I needed to get help for Ava, she tested so low, and the label Childhood Apraxia of Speech was spoken out loud it had a huge, profound impact on me. I was very depressed. I had difficulty thinking about anything else. My mind constantly circled around questions that simply cannot be answered right now about how much progress Ava will make and what will the impact of all of this have on her childhood and future.

After a few weeks I passed through the "this has rocked my world and not in a good way" stage and into a more productive stage. There was a flurry of research, self-education, setting up appointments, starting therapy, getting hearing checked, surgery for PE tubes, learning and using sign language, making and setting up communication boards, IFSP meetings, considering and trying nutritional supplements, and blogging about all of the above. And, it was all worth it. We saw changes in Ava's ability to communicate - dramatic and celebrated changes.

I began to breathe a sigh of relief. Yes, the disorder is still there, but it is responding to treatment. I relaxed. I gave myself permission to stop pushing Ava so much at home. To be honest, she didn't respond well when I tried to sit her down at home and do structured therapy with her myself and so I stopped even trying. I switched to a more indirect method of working with her through books and songs and correcting the many utterances we get each day as a natural part of our daily life. So much positive change had taken place so quickly that I began to think that we were "okay." Perhaps we were lucky enough that Ava's apraxia was so mild that we could get her "caught up" in a 1-2 year time frame rather than a much more extended time frame.

Then, our first standardized articulation test was a bit of a reality check and I realized how she is still very far behind her same-age peers. I had become a bit complacent. The progress Ava had already made was such a relief that I forgot that there is still a long way to go. I haven't quite decided what to do about that yet, but over the next couple of weeks I'm going to be thinking about ways I can focus on Ava's speech more here at home again. I'd like to build in some speech time every day in a way that hopefully she and I can both enjoy. I need to remember that this journey is something of a marathon and that I cannot just simply hope that we've come far enough that the rest will magically take care of itself.

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