[Our oldest daughter was diagnosis with Childhood Apraxia of Speech at 20 months. She’s been in intensive speech, occupational, and physical therapy ever since trying to get her body to keep up/catch up with her mind. You can hear more about our journey here and here.]
Tuesday night, your father and I went to your 1st grade parent-teacher conference. You have 2 teachers this year: Ms. Underwood (whom your daddy went to school with- crazy, I know) and Ms. Faber (who you call FABER, as in FABER! FAY! BER!). We are all in agreement that the Lunch Hour Teacher Switch works magic for you; it’s like a reset button. Normally, you’d be winding down and setting your heart on home. Now, you eat lunch and begin scanning the room for FABER to come in and start Part 2 of every day. I never would have thought…
but, then again, that’s the story of my life with you:
I never would have thought.
THE BASICS: you are an incredible friend, you live for the “job”- any job PLEASE GIVE ME A JOB, and you are so much more independent in the classroom this year. Sweet Jen is still your aide, but they are pulling her back more and more because you, Girl, don’t need her to shadow as much anymore.
Rylie: you are beginning to read. It is the most ridiculous thing ever… because we assume you must have words in order to read. But, your years of memorization and drills and repetition have prepared you to jump right in, and YOU CAN READ though you cannot perform verbally. It’s why you can score a 6/10 and a 7/10 and a 9/10 on your weekly spelling tests. A NINE OUT OF TEN.
Let me say it again: RIDICULOUS.
So, yes. You are in a reading group with other kids in your class reading little, tiny books and making sense out of letters mashed together. You can take a test and pass. You can match letters with sounds. Miracle.
[For the record, working with you so much on spelling and reading a writing has only reminded me and solidified my belief that English is the dumbest language in the actual world. So many rules. So many exceptions. So little logic. Perhaps, if Spanish were our family’s first language, you’d be on the Debate Team by now. We’ll never know.]
While reading and writing keeping (slow) pace with your grade level, we are a bit behind in math. This may be genetic, and I am so sorry. But truly, we’ve just started focusing on numbers in depth this year. Numbers are hard. The concept is still a little weird and if you are EVER able to say seven instead of skipping straight to eight I think we’ll just give you a diploma and call it good. Officially, you’re testing a year behind in math. God bless America.
You are a rule-follower and a justice-seeker (my genes). You are a physical reactor and hungry/tired every minute of every day (also my genes). Your dad is in there somewhere… but, honestly, he’s hard to see right now. It’s like looking in a mirror.
Wednesday morning we had your IEP, which is just a fancy meeting where Dad and I meet with your therapists, the principal, and your teachers all together to discuss the plan for the school-year. You have speech therapy twice a week, occupational therapy once a week, and planned sensory breaks daily.
THE BASICS: you have met and surpassed all of your goals in all areas from last year. Three-word phrases? Yes. We’re into them now. Recognize and write all your letters? You bet. Make it through a whole school day (with copious snack fuel)? Yup.
According to the testing scores, your OT jumped by an entire year. You are now only a year behind in your fine motor skills, where last year’s tests put you at 2 years to grow.
We did speech three times a week this summer- with your usual speech therapist- hoping to keep up with the explosion of words we could feel coming, and I think (I THINK) it worked. After a year of minimal progress, the end of last year and this summer began to blow us away. You think faster. You speak faster. You remember faster. You are an absolute sponge right now, and we’re going to keep throwing things at you until you fall over.
WHAT I KNOW: You are the same kid you were at 20-months when this whole apraxia journey started. You have no clue that your life is any different than the kids you sit next to on the bus… but truthfully, I’d put you up against any of them in a battle of will and might.
You are a solider. A tiny, 45-pound, runny-nosed soldier who can’t keep pants on her hips to save her life. This crazy speech and balance path has zigged and zagged all over the map in your almost-seven years. You’ve logged, like, a bajillion more miles in effort than anyone. Ever.
We have many miles to go.
Keep dragging us along.
We’ll keep up somehow.