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The sound of her voice…

Our daughter was a quiet baby and, at the time, we didn’t think too much about it. Not only was she a quiet baby, but she slept on a schedule the moment she came home from the hospital. We just thought she was an easy baby.

One of the things that stood out, though, was the choking. We noticed that she was choking during feeding frequently. It seemed to run in cycles; we would go without any incidents for a time and then they would happen in rapid succession. When we started her on solid food, we did so slowly and took our time introducing her to foods that required chewing and mashing. I tried to discuss my concerns with our pediatrician, but I felt waved off with a, “First-time moms worry about everything. She will be fine.”

When she was over a year old, the choking incidents got more severe, frequent, and scary. My husband and I both became well-versed in pediatric Heimlich maneuvers and when to appropriately perform a finger sweep of the mouth. Nothing can put a damper on a church luncheon like a toddler choking and needing the Heimlich.

I was so disturbed over my daughter’s increasing frustration over trying to communicate and the choking incidents that I was ready to find a new doctor and get another opinion.

The moment we met with our new pediatrician, she immediately began assessing our daughter’s speech before either my husband or I had a chance to fill her in with our concerns. She looked at me and said, “Mom, you’ve got some concerns, don’t you?”

I started crying quietly, nodding my head, and my husband and I talked over each other as we poured out what we had been experiencing with the lack of communication, screaming fits, and choking incidents.

Soon, we were scheduled for evaluations.

We went through occupational therapy evaluations, educational evaluations, speech evaluations, and met with the school psychologist for his evaluation. Suddenly I was learning all about IEPs, highly sensitive children, different terminology for speech issues, and different learning methods. Her intelligence was high, her comprehension was remarkable, yet it was apparent that there were some serious concerns with her speech.

About a year and a half ago, we started treatment for Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

This condition is not well understood, but we were relieved to finally have an action plan in place. Our daughter’s frustration and anxiety level was extremely high, because children with Apraxia know full well how much difficulty they are having trying to communicate verbally. My husband and I were both desperate for her stress to be relieved, so we turned our house into a giant learning center to keep reinforcing some of the themes in speech therapy. Over time, we have watched our little girl start to calm and open up.

One of the issues of Apraxia is that the child may be understood some of the time and able to imitate words, yet revert back to being unintelligible. It is touch and go, touch and go. The most difficult part for me has been feeling as if I cannot meet her needs because I have been unable to understand what she is saying. I love the sound of her voice, but it is a priceless gift to the heart when I am actually able to understand my own child as she expresses her needs.

Today, we met with the speech therapist and reviewed her progress. There are still areas of concern, but my daughter’s progress is actually quite remarkable. She turns four this summer and we may be referred for yet another evaluation at the children’s hospital between now and then, but I am no longer as concerned as I once was with the road ahead. Her level of confidence has increased greatly and I was so happy to see her participating in her assignments with more enthusiasm and less frustration.

When the kids and I were heading home from speech therapy this afternoon, I heard her little voice pipe up from the back seat, “Hannah did a good job, mommy. I’m Hannah!”

Yes, baby girl, you are Hannah and Hannah did a very, very good job.

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67 thoughts on “The sound of her voice…”

  1. I can only imagine how hard it was going through what you went through, and I’m grateful for how things are turning out. I pray God’s grace continues to impact your family, that your daughter continues to grow up and her speech is full and clear in Jesus name.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. What a story! The end especially touched the heart. I can’t imagine what it was like walking through the valley of the unknown and the steps as you await progress. I also can’t imagine the emotions to hear her say those precious words about her own progress. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is amazing! Our middle daughter (now almost 35!) was born with a cleft palate and due to much hearing loss, had speech therapy for years, although obviously not to the level that you are dealing with. Hang in there mom! You are doing a great job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can imagine the worry and struggles you went through with your own girl. We mamas don’t like to see our babies struggle and I have a feeling it might not change much no matter how old they get! I personally have hearing loss and wear hearing aids, so communication issues, whether minor or major, have quite an impact on the psyche. We were created to be relational and communication is such a huge part of relating. How profound was her hearing loss? If you don’t mind if I ask, of course.

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      1. Her pediatrician missed it (back in the 80’s) and by the time we found it out, she was only hearing in the 40 dbs as I recall. She was around 15 months and they wanted to wait until her palate closure at 18 months to do the tubes, but I said no, let’s do it now. Her language development had already suffered too much up to that point. I learned we had to be our daughter’s best advocate and not just take what they give us.

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  4. I was unfamiliar with the this issue, but since I care about your family because of your blog I watched the Speech Apraxia information for friends and family at their website. A real challenge, but one you are facing with grace.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a dear friend who has a child with Apraxia. Due to a variety of reasons, it was not caught until he was almost 5 (if I am remembering correctly). It has been a while since I have seen them, but last I saw of him, you never would have known he was once almost completely impossible to understand. It was a tough road but well worth the effort. So glad you are seeing breakthroughs!

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  6. I had my first daughter the day before I turned 6 months pregnant. She spent 3 1/2 months in the NICU. She walked at 19 months and didn’t begin to utter words until she was two. You could always see her mind at work. She could complete simple puzzles, match shapes and colors, but she would stare with the most pitiful wide eyed stare. She did OT and speech. Said she had sensory processing and developmental delays. She is 6 and in kindergarten. She is actually using sentences and in the process of learning to read. She keeps up with her class educationally. She still gets frustrated when she can’t find words or someone doesn’t understand, but she has surpassed everything the doctors predicted. I am just here to say that though the journey can be sorrowful, the milestones will continue to be met. I claim that for our girls! Thank you for sharing. (I can’t help myself, I know this was long, I’m sorry ) Blessings ✨

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    1. We went through the sensory screenings, because our daughter is quite a sensitive girl. While highly sensitive, they didn’t determine there to be sensory issues. So happy to hear your girl is reading!! 😀

      Don’t worry about length! I have no idea how some of these comments got buried, but I am just now finding this. Sorry for the delay!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad you found the right doctor to help you evaluate Hannah and get her on her way to recovery. You told your story beautifully and it may help others in your situation. No doctor should dismiss your concerns, but, especially when your child is choking and not progressing as they should. Shame on him/her.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love it when she brings me a toy that needs new batteries and says, “Daddy fix” after I ‘fix’ it she exclaims “oh!!! Much better. Thank you, daddy!”
    I wonder if God’s heart feels a little like mine hearing a “thank you” from my child.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! We’ve had a time of it, but I really think it has been hardest on our little girl. She has been fully aware for a long time now that her words don’t make sense and you can tell she knows they should match what she wants to say. One step at a time and it has been getting a little easier to either understand her or figure out what she is trying to express. She lights up when she is understood and that makes my day! 😀

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    1. It is a lot less now with incidents getting fewer and further between. It has been a few months since a major one, but we may still be referred for a swallow study to see where she is at with all of that. Now I am super paranoid about choking incidents with both kids and I often wonder if that will go away!

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  9. It is so good that you were able to get another doctor’s opinion, and she’s now getting the help she needs. I really haven’t heard about Apraxia. It must have been so hard when she was a baby to have her choking like that… Sometimes doctors ‘assume’ too much without checking first. Diane

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve never heard of this. I’m so proud of up for being the mama bear and finding a new pediatrician. I’ve never understood doctors who blow off concerned parents. I know this has to be hard for you, but it is clear you are doing wonderful things for your daughter. She’s proud of herself, as she should be. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was aware, previously, that choking and swallowing issues can be related to speech issues (many of the same muscle groups involved), so when it kept occurring I couldn’t ignore it. She has been making wonderful progress!! She is very pleased with herself. 😀

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      1. Mother’s have an intuition about their children. I know there are crazy helicopter moms, but, for the most part, doctors should err on the side of listening to the parents rather than blowing them off. My youngest took a long time to talk (we realized he had a hearing issue and it got better after it cleared). He was 18 months by the time week figured it out since he didn’t complain about his ears. I’m just so glad you found a good pediatrician who listened and cared.

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  11. I’m so happy for you all, that an action plan is in place. Hannah sounds like she is doing wonderfully and most important, I feel, is to measure her progress from where she came versus other children. My guy is also in speech therapy. I noticed that he didn’t say as much as my other two. Who can blame him really? Mommy was at the end of her career in the Air Force and he probably heard commotions all day. I always started feeling Braxton Hicks contractions every time debates/heated meetings occurred at work. It’s ironic now he says when things are too loud, “Honey you’re too loud.” lol. I must say that a lot. All the best to you, and prayers for moving forward. Thank you for sharing too.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You bring a great deal of courage to parents. We need to hear the truth of how hard things can get and how we cope so we don’t feel like we’re the only ones dealing with challenging circumstances.

    So glad to hear your daughter is progressing. And thank you for being willing to speak on a condition that is not well-known, so that attention and knowledge around it increases. Blessings to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a story! God must have a lot of faith in you, your husband, and Hannah to handle this condition. Keep good thoughts and prayers for improvement…

    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

  14. She apparently made some talking and I’m trying to gauge what my mom said about me. I’m 55 so I’m trying to understand a childhood disorder which caused social problems as an adult. Like your daughter, I was a quiet baby. The old-time pediatrician said I would talk when I got ready and eventually, a snake in the yard gave me imperative need to say something so ‘nake’ was’ my first word. My parents thought I was mentally challenged when they sent me to Kindergarten. Could that be similar to your daughter if help and information weren’t available? You may have saved your child from a life of social mesry, but keep an eye on her social development because one delay creates another.

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