Trusting God

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I was looking through these files the other day. My husband and I had a consultation appointment with a doctor, who specializes in Speech-Language Pathology and Auditory Processing Disorders. The office asked us to bring any past evaluations and assessments that have been conducted on our son. As I sorted through all the paperwork, I came across a polaroid picture of Gabriel that was taken 5 years ago. He was 3 1/2 years old, attending his very first speech therapy session. There’s an obvious look of anxiety in his face. In the picture, you could see him tightly gripping someone’s hand … mine. I remember that day vividly. He was so scared.

Now, here we are. My son is almost 9. The road has been rough, and still, I wonder what is ahead for him and for us. My faith is shaken sometimes, as I share the same anxiety my son felt that day 5 years ago.

This doctor that my husband and I met was recommended to us by some friends, who have been on a similar path with their youngest son. At the end of the appointment, we scheduled Gabriel’s evaluation in June.

Perhaps we’ll get a real diagnosis. Or perhaps the doctor cannot pinpoint exactly what it is.
Perhaps our path will be clearer. Or perhaps it will become more muddled with decisions to be made.
Perhaps we’ll get our questions answered. Or perhaps we’ll find ourselves asking new ones.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have this evaluation done, but I realize that I can’t put my hope in it, its results, or the doctor who will conduct it. No matter the outcome of this evaluation, it is The Lord who will continue to lead us as He has been faithfully doing these past 5 years.

When I began writing here, I never could have imagined this is where it would take me. I want to extend my deepest thanks to you for reading what I have shared here about my journey. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for weeping with me. Thank you for praying for me and for my family.

But, I believe it is time. It is time to close this chapter. To look with eager anticipation at the road ahead … though it be rough, God is good. God is most definitely good.

Coping with the Challenges, Family Life

My Cousin

Home headphonesFourth of July fireworks came and went without any problems. If you remember in a previous post, I had shared the challenges we have with this holiday because of our son’s fears of the noise of the fireworks. This time, we came equipped with earplugs and headphones to make absolutely sure that the sounds would be muffled enough for Gabriel’s sensitive ears. I actually think he was looking forward to the show. As we watched in what has become our usual spot–the upstairs bedroom, next to the window–I even observed some excitement in his face.

classroomBut we were not alone this time. When we were heading up the stairs, I noticed my cousin looking up at us. This cousin, who I had not seen in almost 10 years, was visiting for a couple of weeks. She is a sophomore in college, and I had learned that night that she was thinking about majoring in Communication Disorders (aka Speech/Language Pathology). As with many students her age, she is still unsure about her major. She would love to work with children, but she doesn’t know if this is the right educational and career path for her. When she saw us going upstairs, she asked if I wanted her to come with us. At first I politely said “no”, not wanting her to miss out on watching the fireworks outside with the rest of the group. But I could tell she really wanted to spend time with Gabriel. And to my surprise, Gabriel, who usually doesn’t want any sudden changes to shake up his expectations, welcomed her presence.

It was really a sweet sight, seeing her talk with him and gently stroking his hair. Here is another person, who got to see just how special Gabriel is. And who knows? Perhaps in a few years, I will hear that this cousin of mine is a speech therapist at the local elementary school or working with children with autism. And I guess I’d like to think that Gabriel had a part in helping her. This world can certainly use another dedicated person to make an impact on this next generation of special children.

 

(Photo credit 1: Mulad)
(Photo credit 2: velkr0)

Community, Therapy

The Best Speech Therapy

R is urrr not arrrWhen Gabriel first began speech therapy at 3 years old, I brought him in for a 30-minute session once a week. It didn’t seem like much, but that’s what was being offered by our public school district. And since we could not afford to pay for private speech therapy, we were glad to get something. During that 30 minute period, I would sit in the corner of the room, quietly observing and madly taking notes, because I knew that speech therapy was going to be as much for me as it was for Gabriel. Speech therapy was not supposed to be reduced to simply those 30 minutes in that windowless office. It was going to happen the rest of the day and the rest of the week, and during those times, I was Gabriel’s speech therapist. It was up to me to take all that I could glean from those sessions and insert them into our everyday lives.

Gabriel has, since then, seen two other speech therapists. I truly appreciate all that they have done to help our son and our family. They gave us a lot of guidance and answered many of our questions about his development. However, I have discovered that the best speech therapy for Gabriel has been the everyday, unplanned, and even unexpected encounters with the people and circumstances around him.

Since the speech therapists followed the public school schedule, we would have a whole summer of not having any formal therapy. However, these were the times that Gabriel seemed to improve the most in his speech and language development. I have no explanation but this: we have a sovereign God working in our son, orchestrating every detail of his growth and development, and nothing escapes His notice.

(Photo credit: Jagrap)

Family Life, Trusting God

How Did We Get Here?

The King’s Speech Raises Awareness of Language...

Let me back up and give you some history. After two years of a blessed marriage, God gave us another wonderful blessing: our son, Gabriel. Life was quite a whirlwind as two inexperienced parents try to figure out how to care for this little one. Gabriel’s first couple of years were quite normal. For the most part, he was a mellow kid. I remember when he was 1 year old, I was sitting at a party and talking to a friend for a couple of hours, and he just stayed very still on my lap, quietly observing what was around him. He didn’t squirm at all or complain. At only 18 months old, he already welcomed a new baby sister, Tamara.

Gabriel hit all the typical milestones so we had no reason to worry … until his doctor began to ask about his speech development. “Is he saying sentences? Two-word sentences? Three-word sentences?” Not really. More like one word sentences mixed with a lot of baby talk sounds and gibberish. He was two and a half. He’s a late bloomer, we thought, give it some time. We held off on getting him evaluated by a speech pathologist even after the strong encouragement from his pediatrician. By the time he was three, we could tell something was not quite right. Behavioral problems increased partly due to the difficulty in communication. We finally had him evaluated, and he was diagnosed with Mixed Expressive/Receptive Language Disorder. Basically, that means, compared to other children his age, he has significant delays in what he is able to say (expressive) and what he is able to understand (receptive). At 3 1/2 years old, he began working with a speech therapist once a week. This continued on until he was 5 years old. Then, we had a decision to make. Where would he go to school? His speech therapist and doctors all encouraged us to put him in our local public school. “Immerse him” was a phrase we heard over and over again. We prayed and sought the Lord for wisdom. Gabriel has had some classroom experience in our church Sunday School. And, although he had amazing teachers, who really tried to work with him, we knew he just did not thrive in a classroom setting. My husband had volunteered in his class for some time, and he observed that, for the most part, Gabriel was in his own world. We already knew what would happen if we enrolled him in our public school’s Kindergarten class.

After much prayer and counsel, we decided that I would homeschool Gabriel. We are so blessed to have many friends from church who are also homeschooling and many have been doing it for years. I had to deal with some nerves as is typical with most first-time homeschooling moms, but it was exciting to plan for our school year ahead. It has been a challenging endeavor, but we are convinced that our son will thrive better in the home than in a classroom of 30 kids.

Fast forward to today and here I am, now with two more little blessings, Chase and Eric. Homeschooling has been more challenging than ever, with more children to attend to but also because of Gabriel’s special needs. I know that Gabriel’s needs are not as severe as others, but they do require a measure of patience, love, understanding, strength, and grace that I often feel deficient in …. until the Lord brings me to my senses and shows me the ocean of patience, love, understanding, strength, and grace that belong to Him.

(Photo credit: University of Maryland Press Release)

Note: Some names on this site have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.