Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Silence



We found some old home videos tucked away in a folder we had lost track of. Ava was about 4-5 months old when the videos were taken. What struck me as I watched was how smiley she was. I remember very few smiles, and yet while watching these videos, she responded with a huge toothless grin every time I smiled at her. Her eyes would light up and there was this huge smile. And yet she was wrapped in a huge bubble of silence.

I listen to babies coo and babble all the time. I play with those sounds in waiting rooms, babbling back and forth with any infant who will play the game with me. Ava was silent. It's a little creepy - all the talking around her and this completely silent little baby. She didn't seem unhappy, she was just silent. She was silent in the bouncer, on the playmat, and in the arms of loved ones. We have some videos of me trying to make her laugh - tossing her gently in the air or creeping tickle fingers up her leg towards her neck. The vast majority of the time I was unsuccessful. The once or twice she managed to giggle, it looked and sounded effortful. And yet, somehow, even as a speech pathologist I managed to miss how exactly abnormal it all was. I was a sleep-deprived mother of a 4 and 19 month old. My professional experience was with preschoolers and school-aged children. At the time, I wasn't getting out much and didn't realize how much noise babies should be making.

There was a video where... well, I have no idea exactly what I was trying to capture in the video, but Ava was laying on her back on the floor. She couldn't roll over yet and looked a lot like a turtle stuck on her back. She was obviously frustrated. She was lifting her head and shoulders and waving her arms and staring straight at me. And there were no sounds. None at all. No grunting, no fussing, no crying even. Just silence in the presence of frustration and physical effort. And why exactly did it take me 18 more months to start assessment?

Has anyone had similar experiences with their apraxic children? If you go back and watch videos when they were babies are they silent? I know that "abnormal history of babbling" is a red flag for apraxia, but this complete silence... Anyone?

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog!! I visit it frequently and print off pages to use with two of my children who have Apraxia. And yes, my apraxic son was a completely silent baby. Never babbled or cooed at all. Almost never cried either. I remember it was very difficult to even get him to laugh. There was a time when he was 25 months old and we were at a family reunion for the weekend. He still had never said a word or even mimicked a sound. I told all my family members that I would pay $1,000 to whoever could get him to say "Hi." They all worked with him that whole weekend, trying to get "Hi" out of him. It would be another year before he ever said "Hi." His apraxia is pretty severe. He is five now. My daughter's apraxia isn't nearly as bad. She did coo and babble as a baby. Her speech just never changed from baby babble. She has been diagnosed with phonological process disorder and mild apraxia. She is 3 now.

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