Friday, January 20, 2012

Fearfully and Wonderfully

My son is fearfully and wonderfully made,
but this week I learned that he has a learning disability.

What was a delay when he was two,
when my silent boy could not speak,
is a disability when he is six.

Children are most vulnerable to speech and language problems between the ages of 2 and 6.  Statistically, the chance of improvement diminishes after this window. 

My son is six and a half.

Way back when, way back then,
he couldn't find his words.
The same is true now.
It's called anomia. 
We all have it to a certain degree.
It's when  you say, "Can you give me that, um, that.... um..." and you snap your fingers until you remember the word pencil.

This happens to my son in his every sentence.  For all of his life, he has understood every word anyone has said to him.  But he often cannot retrieve the language to reply.  He knows what he wants to say, and his words fail him.

He is smart.  Every expert has agreed: oh, there is knowledge inside that boy.  Deep knowledge.

Yesterday, he said, "Mommy, can you write my name on my football so it doesn't get lost?  And can you write it on the red part, because if you write on the black part, then... then... then... (insert long pause)... then the letters will ... will be... (insert second pause) ... be camouflaged."

He is an expert at synonyms.  He couldn't think of the phrase "won't show up," so instead he danced around the idea until he found the word 'camouflaged.'

Two days ago, he said, "Mommy, can you please explain to me why I can't hear God's voice?"

My son is a thinker. 

If you're patient,
if you listen without distraction,
if he knows he's not rushed,
he'll talk to you.

My son has a long history of learning differently than other children.  This week, we enter our second jaunt down the path of the Individualized Education Plan.  The experts, the collaboration, the diagnostic testing, the signatures, the puzzle pieces and building blocks to help my son to communicate.  I couldn't ask for a better team of advocates who know the laws, the systems, the assessments, and -- most of all -- Tucker.

I've done this before.  But there's a difference. 

Last time, at the end of the day, when Tuck was nearly two and we learned there was a reason we hadn't heard his voice, Robb said, "Hey, babe?  He's smart.  We know he's smart.  Let's show the world what kind of smart he is."

I miss my partner, the one who knew this boy as well as I do.

I signed my name.  Yes.  Test my son, in every way you deem best.  I trust you.  And I know him.  And he's about to blow us all away.

My son is fearfully and wonderfully made. 



tanyasz said...

My son has bi-polar disorder and also has severe, combined type ADHD. All through elementary school his teachers said he was lazy and not smart enough to do the work. We, as his parents knew otherwise. We knew he was brilliant! :-) I tried convincing them that he just needed to be taught differently, but they were "too busy with the other 17 children in the class". We had him professionally tested in grade 8 and the above was the diagnoses. We went into high school prepared with this documentation and a group of amazing doctors and high school staff willing to fight for him. In grade 11, he won the award for the top mark in the class for FOUR classes. Math, Computer Programming, Religion and ...I can't remember the 4th. Anyway, he's now in his first year of college and is getting the same accommodations he received in high school, and he's doing fantastic! 100% in 2 of his 1st semester courses.
I'm not telling you any of this to brag (although I do to his elementary school teachers quite often ;-), I'm just telling you this to say that as parents we know our kids better than anyone. We are their best advocates. The testing, while difficult to accept they need it, is the best thing to do. It helps SO much in their academic lives as well as their personal lives. His peers were much more understanding once they knew there was actually something different about him.
Our journey was very long and difficult - and of course it's not finished - but you will get through it. Your son is very lucky to have you to be the mom to help him through it. It will be more difficult for sure, to do on your own, but you've proven over and over again throughout this past year, that you can do it! Your son and mine are both fearfully and wonderfully made - and they both have mothers made the same way!

Catherine said...

I will be praying for your boy and for this process to be as easy on you as possible. I trust that God will use Tucker in some amazing ways.

Melissa said...

Do you know what an encouragement this is? :-) I have a two-year-old son who also will not talk. Oh, the goober is smart, he knows what things are and he's incredibly good at following directions, he just won't talk. I've spent many hours worrying about him, but reading this, I feel comforted that everything is going to be okay because we know our son and we want what's best for him. It's like getting a big hug from another parent who's been there. So thank you. :-)

Marie Foster said...

Oh, Tricia, I know how you feel. My oldest son spoke very early and often. Words were never an issue and neither was pronunciation. He is almost eight now and things haven't changed. Then came my other son. We thought that because he was so much calmer he was just "taking his time" to speak. Time passed and he did speak but it was very hard to understand him. I worked with him and some things improved, but not nearly enough. He is in kindergarten now and has been receiving assistance for speech and "literacy". He tested out of literacy recently but will now officially be put on an IEP for speech. I am thrilled and grateful for the help but so sad for my little guy. It is heartbreaking to watch and listen to him struggle to be understood. As a former teacher, and someone with Dyslexia and all of the struggles it brings, I feel guilt and sadness. I too am anxious to show the world that my son can express himself and can express how brilliant and funny he really is. It's so amazing how different they all are. My three year old daughter was like my oldest. She spoke early and with great accuracy. No "baby talk" for her either. So amazingly unique these little angels are.

Patty Kline said...

YES, Tucker is fearfully and wonderfully made, and I have every confidence that he will indeed blow us all away.

Penny said...

The football conversations shows how smart your Tuck really is! :)For years with our youngest daughter, I felt what you and Robb felt. My Shelbi talked early... sang whole songs at 15 months... carried whole conversations, but was hospitalized with a blood disorder during that same critical language developing age (15 months to 3 years). She shut down as far as talking/singing in front of anyone other than her immediate family. If someone asked her, in public, what her name was, how old are you, or some other question we all ask small children, she'd just look at them. Some said, "You talk for her." But after a minute or two of them thinking she was dumb (and not in the "mute" sense), I would answer them. How I longed for people to know how sweet, funny, and bright my child was! During kindergarten, the school psychologist diagnosed her with Selective Mutism. She tried therapies with her that she researched, but Shelbi never said a word. Second grade, her pediatrician wanted to try Prozac. We declined. Two weeks later, Shelbi started spontaneously talking to four classmates. Today, she is in her Sophomore year of college, planning to enter the mission/ministry field. :) You can read more about her story on my blog, if you're interested. Just click on Selective Mutism in the labels column.
Just as Shelbi is showing the world how special (and wonderfully) God made her, so will Tucker!

Sarah Jacobson said...

I am so thankful that you and the boys are in a great school! What a blessing for you. Reminds me of another, similar school... :)

Becky Johnson said...

Oh Tricia, you would have a support group made before you could say the word "boo". C has sensory integration processing saw this I know...she is amazing. Through it all, she has outperformed, out-smarted, out-shined any kindergartner, any 5 year old, any kid I have ever seen. I am biased, but our Creator. He is awesome indeed! I know for a fact T is the same! Thanks, yet again for sharing your heart, your mind. It helps. It heals.

Miss Angel said...

Most kids with learning disabilities are also very bright... they just have difficulties expressing their intelligence in traditional ways! There is so much out there now to support people who learn differently, and your son will do amazing things when as he grows up! He is lucky to have parents like you who see how awesome he is, whether or not he can speak as fluently as most kids can or learn in the same ways as they can!

Cristi said...

Well thats just beautiful.