You can’t stop progress.

[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.]


Rylie Joy,


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.





About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

10 responses to “You can’t stop progress.

  • Mandi Watts

    What a great report! Way to go, Rylie!

    (And, I couldn’t agree with you more about the stupid English language. Every time I teach one of my kids to read or write, I am incensed anew. It’s a ridiculously (and sometimes unnecessarily) hard language to learn and to teach.)

  • Kate Kern

    Hi Katie!
    My name is Kate, and my sister-in-law, Kelly Hulst (I think you went to college with her and my brother, Ben Hulst) recommended your blog to me a few months ago, and I thank you for sharing your life and story this way. My son, who is 7 1/2, was also diagnosed with CAS at about 20 months, and also with Sensory Processing Disorder and Anxiety. It has been a long, weary, heartbreaking and joyous journey over the past many years. He is doing so much better now but still, and always will, have struggles. And we will both have battle scars-thankfully our God can redeem those scars! I commented because what you said about Rylie logging more effort than anyone else rang so true with me. My son has fought for everything he has acheived, and I am so glad he fights so hard. He is an amazing kid, although he has been known to have me in tears by 8am! I am so proud of him and can’t wait to see what God does with his life.
    Rylie sounds like a great kid. Thank you for sharing her and your family’s journey. It has been an encouragement to me and helped me know I am not alone.

    • texasnorth

      Oh, friend, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

      And I know you! Or, I know of you! Ben has been trying to introduce us for years but I keep losing the paper plates and scraps of paper I write your phone number down on 🙂 Emailing you now!

  • Kendra VanDerVeen

    Amazing! Praising God for a great report and IEP!

  • Rebecca Jasperse

    This post is music to my ears! I’ve missed Rylie and I was overjoyed to read about her progress! You obviously made the right decision with Rockford Christian 🙂 They’ve got your back. What a happy place that is over there.

  • Nyree

    It is great to hear about Rylie’s progress! I’ve just recently come across your blog after looking online for other Christian mum’s who have a child with speech apraxia. My son Noah is 3 1/2 now and has been diagnosed with speech apraxia in the last 12 months. It is encouraging to read how other families have coped with the journey and hear of the progress of their children. It is sometimes hard to believe that progress will be made, but little by little I can see it is happening. Blessings from Australia.

  • Zoe

    Yay for Rylie!
    Yay for her family!
    I think you are SuperMom!

  • Kim Aguilar

    Hard fought battles are the truest and best won. Keep fighting Mulder family; you are doing good work!

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