December 13, 2010

Can you say, "B?"

          The other day SB and I were leaving my parents' house after a visit. I asked her if she would say, "Bye bye." It is one of her new words, so I knew she was capable of it. She tried, and nothing came out of her mouth but air. She tried again, and managed to say, "Dye dye." On the third try, she nailed it. And there was much rejoicing. I have learned when you have a child with speech difficulties, you celebrate the small victories. Every single one of them.
          Here's a way to help demonstrate what SB is dealing with. Say the letter, "B" out loud. Say it again. And again. Each time, be cognizant of the muscles in your lips, mouth and face. It's takes a lot to get that sound out. Now try the letter "O." Make sure you say it repeatedly and with emphasis, and be aware of how many muscles in your face are involved. Look in the mirror. We don't think anything of it when we make these sounds. I daresay we take it for granted.
          My daughter has to work her heart out to do so. The connections between her brain and the muscles involved in speech don't function properly. You can physically see how hard she has to work to get the sounds out. It might take her five tries, and even then she may fail. When she can't get it out, we praise her efforts. When she can, we celebrate as if she has just been awarded a full scholarship to Harvard. Because it IS a very big deal.
          Things that may seem insignificant to most are huge for my daughter. And that is hard for others to understand. I might come home from one of SB's speech therapy sessions ecstatic because she made the "OO" sound. And people don't get that. They ask often how SB's speech therapy is going, if she is learning anything. I try to explain it is not about learning, but building the connections. Then as I excitedly tell them about her progress, they look at me funny. But I don't care, because I know what it means.
          I hate that SB is having to go through this. It hurts me so much to see my child struggle mightily to do something so vital and considered by most to be routine. But I have been absolutely blown away by how she is dealing with it. She is aware she is different. She knows she can't do what others can do. But it has had no noticeable effect on her self-esteem. She continues to be the bright, happy, independent and confident child I love to see.
          What's more, she gives her all trying to overcome this challenge. She rarely becomes frustrated or gives up. I would not fault her in the least if she did. She's not quite two years old, yet she is facing this situation with the grace and fortitude of one far beyond her years. I am so amazed by her. And I am heartened knowing she will be equipped through this to face whatever future obstacles life sets in her path.
          She still has a long way to go with this particular hurdle. We hope she will be able to talk by the time she begins Kindergarten, three years from now. That's how big this is. Her attitude and determination are only part of the equation. They will help her, yes, but they cannot move the mountain. She has to go over it. All we can do is provide encouragement and ensure she has the tools she needs.
          I'll admit I cry sometimes. Both for her struggle and her incredible will. I cried as I wrote this. But oh, the celebrating I will do when she reaches the other side of the mountain. I cannot wait to hear my child speak. Talk a mile a minute like so many young girls. I know she is going to have a lot to say. And I will be all ears. Then a new kind of tears will fill my eyes, those made from joy.


  1. More power to your strong daughter! When my son was her age, he had failed every test of "typical indicators" for speech development. We worked with a fantastic project (the First Words Project at Florida State University), their playgroup as well as individual evaluations. Eventually, he was declared "just a slow talker." I know every child's progress is different, so I'm not saying this to imply everyone is the same, but hopefully it will give you some hope that not a week goes by (he is 11 now) that we don't say, "THIS IS THE KID WHO WASN'T GOING TO TALK??" Hang in there, and hopefully the bloggy community can pitch in with some support. I know I will!

  2. Wow, what a girl you have. I'm sure you're a very proud mama - I know I'd be. A close friend of mine has a son who was a slow talker, and watching the pain she went through as the other mothers compared their children's progress was heartbreaking. If you don't go through it, as you said, I guess you just take it for granted.

    Hang in there!

  3. No mother likes seeing her child struggle -- it hurts our hearts. But you know what? SB's struggles are teaching her so much more than just speech. She's learning perseverance. She's exercising her "drive" muscles. She will be one awesomely capable woman when she grows up, due in large part to your and your husband's encouragement during this difficult period.

    You ALL rock. :)

  4. SB is an amazing young lady whom we love hanging out with. Her words will come - it's only a matter of time.

  5. @ Paula - Thank you for the support; it is appreciated. SB has been diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, so her situation is a little more complicated than just being a late talker. But she will talk someday. And we'll probably say the same thing you do! ;)

    @ Mrs.JenB - I don't begrudge other moms the opportunity to brag on their little ones. I know what it is like to be proud of your child. I do not like the responses we tend to get from strangers, however.

    @ Linda - Thank you, sweetie! I know you are right.

    @ Mandy - She will talk, that is the one thing we know for sure. When is the question. We can't control that, so we just accept it. Can't wait to see you and your little ones again. Stay warm!

  6. SB is an amazing little peanut. Keep us posted on her progress. We know how important these seemingly small achievements really are.

  7. This is the 2nd post I've read today about a child's determination in the face of adversity. My response: to applaud the mother. She sounds like an amazing little girl, one that is lucky to have you as her cheerleader.
    And yes, I too have cried at my daughter's struggles, only when she isn't looking!
    Looking forward to each small achievement you share!

  8. I know exactly how you feel. My son, who turned 5 in Sept., has a speech delay. He used to get very frustrated when he would try to communicate with us. He was accepted to a program at our local elementary school were he gets speech therapy everyday. I have to say there has been progress in such a short time and I know that it is just going to get better. He also is more social and out going then he used to be. About a month ago I started to notice that he was pronouncing the "F" instead of "P" and that was just amazing to hear, I cried.

    You are not alone. You are doing a great job.

  9. My second had severe delay so I know EXACTLY how big those small things are!

  10. this is a beautiful post about an incredible little girl whose struggles are laying the foundation for her to become an unbelievable woman.

    and right now? you are the unbelievable woman. congrats on how far you've all come.

  11. What a sweet and wonderful post! You have an amazing daughter who has a strong and loving mom!! Keep up the efforts, they'll pay off and she'll be talking your ear off in no time I'm sure!! <3

  12. @ Miss Kitty - Thanks, honey! Muah!

    @ Mad Woman - She is amazing, and I never wanted to be a cheerleader, but I think I make a pretty good one, too. Thanks! ;)

    @ Monkeys Mommy - I always enjoy hearing success stories. I'm glad your son has responded so well to the therapy. Can't you just imagine how frustrating it must be for them?

    @ Cheryl - I'm sure you do. Thanks for sharing.

    @ Abby - Oh goodness woman. You just made me cry. Thanks for your wonderful comment!

    @ Karen - Thank you. I so look forward to that.

  13. Each letter is a Victory! She'll cross the Mountain esp. with you behind her!!! -c3south*

  14. My almost two year old is a slow talker too, but I don't think it's anything other than being the third child with older siblings to talk for him. Plus I think he gets a kick out of my frustration. (He's that big of a stinker.)

    You are offering your child so much. When your mother's heart told you, "This is serious," you listened. You've given SB another way to communicate with sign language. You are being exactly what she needs as her patient cheerleader, and I so enjoy reading your thoughts on writing, SB, and anything else.

    My little cousin sustained brain damage as an infant, and that caused speech delays. He has always been so patient to make his thoughts clear. I remember one time he was trying to say, "glove," but it kept coming out, "fuf." I kept trying to understand, and finally asked, "Can you show me?" He suddenly exclaimed, "mitten!" I was so impressed. He was maybe four or five at the time.

    Kids are amazing.

  15. you had me teary eyed, too! way to go to your 'lil sweetie and way to go, mama!

  16. SB sounds like a strong little girl and you are absolutely right to celebrate her every accomplishment. She is learning so much more than making speech connections and I would bet she is going to grow into hard working young lady who won't take "no" for an answer.

  17. I am amazed by your baby's grace and strength, but also to be praised is your own integrity and positive attitude as you watch your daughter going through her trials with speech. You are BOTH so inspiring and yours is such a touching story. You know we all wish you the best and are eagerly awaiting the next chapter of this story, which, I am certain, will continue to shine with accomplishments. And as you said, these accomplishments only seem small, but each and every one is to be celebrated, and I celebrate them with you. You, your husband and your baby are dealing with your private struggle in the best possible way and I am confident in ALL of you and that the outcome will truly be great. And I can't wait to see you on the other side of that mountain.
    All my love,

  18. I saw your tweet regarding your daughter complaining of her ear hurting. As a mother who has struggled for the past 6 years parenting a child with a heart issue (recently fixed - thanks Mayo Clinic!) I had to write to ask you if any of her speech issues may be due to fluid in her ears?

    As a nurse consultant and travel expert, one of the products I work with was clinically proven (4 year National Institute of Health study) to restore hearing loss in kids suffering from hearing issues due to fluid in the middle ear. This hearing loss causes speech issues in many kids.

    To be honest, I didn't read your entire background because I am on deadline today, but wanted to share with you one option. My 3 year old used to cry with ear pain when flying - since using the EarPopper the ear issues were eliminated.

    I now represent the product educating flight crews about ear issues in flight.

    But I was relating to your anguish as a parent watching your child struggle (our story here: and had to take a moment to comment.

    Yesterday my son had his 6 week follow up EKG. I was celebrating it may be one of his last (he's had over 20) and the tech just ignored my comment. It is up to us as parents to celebrate the little steps every way. Nobody can relate to what we feel and experience. My son smiled as I celebrated and that is all that matters!

    I am happy to send you info on the EarPopper studies. I also want to invite you to my site if you travel with kids ( My focus is education for both resources.

    But most of all - I am sending you a hug- parent to parent. Parenting is tough anyway - add a medical issues, disability, etc. and it really is the toughest job in the world. Good luck to you both - and keep celebrating the small steps!


  19. I never fail to be astounded by the selfless courage of mothers. And how they celebrate victory no matter how seemingly small the doses they come in.

    It's beautiful to see - thank you for sharing this picture with us!


  20. Good luck on your daughter's continued improvements. I think with a caring momma like you she will be talking in no time :)

    Visiting from Red Dress Club


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