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My Parenting Journey: A Superlative Diagnosis

My Parenting Journey:  A Superlative Prognosis

She walks out of the testing room, clipboard in hand. She’s young; probably first or second year out of college. Almost timidly she looks at my wife Renee, and me and says, “Your son does not qualify for speech therapy. He would be better served in augmentative communication. He will never talk as his main form of communication.”

It’s the kind of arrogant, ignorant statement only the purely-by-the-book academic world produces. No real world experience. No exceptions to the data. No understanding of the dynamic nature of the human spirit and mind. No room to accept positive possibilities. No admittance that the seemingly impossible can be overcome.

Renee starts crying. I stare at this therapist in fury. My insides boil. How dare she make such a declarative statement about my son – MY SON – when he’s only two-years-old! At this moment, the angel and demon of my mind flare up in debate of whether to lash out at this young therapist with all the righteous indignation I can muster; or instead kindly dismiss her prognosis and let the fire inside spur me to find the resources my son needs to overcome the challenges he was given.

As much as I may want to choose the demon’s advice, I kindly dismiss this whole evaluation. When we all get home, I begin looking for a private speech therapist, one I’ll most likely have to pay for out-of-pocket. But regardless, I’m willing to do what it takes so my son will learn to overcome – he WILL learn to talk.

Fast-forward six years and my son Zak is now eight-years-old. He talks for all of his communication. Renee and I began teaching him the alphabet phonetically – so “B” was “Bah” instead of “Bee”; “S” is “Sssss” instead of “Es”; etc. He was able to say his name by sounding out each letter “Z” “A” “K” then working to blend it all together for Zak. (We actually changed the spelling of his short-name from Zach to Zak in order for him to more accurately sound out his name phonetically).

We also found a wonderful private speech therapist for him to see about twice a week. On top of that, when he started Kindergarten at our neighborhood public school, we were blessed to find they have the most amazing speech therapist ever. She engaged Zak with her personality and speech games, which led to vast improvements in his overall speech communication year over year. There was a time where the vowel sound for “E” was so difficult for Zak to produce (he would always say it as “ah”), we were beginning to wonder if he would ever be able to achieve that sound. Near the end of Kindergarten, he was successfully saying the vowel sound for “E” and is quite the talker in a multitude of settings.

And sure, obstacles remain – sometimes it can be hard for someone unfamiliar with Zak to fully understand what he’s saying. But with good listening ears and patience, he can be understood well. He loves greeting people (“Hi Ms. Smith! How are you today? How was your evening?”), introducing himself (“My name is Zak. What’s your name?), and calling out all the musical notes and chords he hears in songs (“A sharp minor” “C flat major”) He has a surprising musical gift that hears perfect pitch and he’s self-taught all the notes and chords on piano and guitar.

Sometimes, I think about tracking down the ill-informed therapist to show that purely booked-based academics and rigid assessments based on a few data points will never, ever fully measure nor define the potential, tenacity and achievement of one individual. There’s knowledge and wisdom that can only come from opening one’s eyes to accepting the possibilities, the dynamic probabilities, and even the outright miracles that can happen.

But I’m not quite sure if I’ll chose the angel-side in my approach… or unleash the devilish “I-told-you-so / We-were-right-you-were-so-so-wrong-so-very-wrong/ Boom-in-your-face / He-talks-when-you-said-he-never-would-how-do-you-like-dem-apples?”

I suppose for now, I’ll merely hope and pray she’s learned wisdom after six-years working in her field and will spare any other family a superlative negative prognosis.

 

Editor’s Note:  We always hope that professionals will give us an honest assessment without making predictions about our son or daughter’s potential….because so many of our children have exceeded their “predicted” potential!  How do you want professionals to share information with you?  We’d  love to hear your advice and experiences on our Online Parent Support Group!  Email us at p2p-co@yahoogroups.com   

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Nathan resides in Arvada, CO with his wife Renee, his 9-year-old musically-gifted son Zak, his 4-year-old princess Madison, a rescue mutt named Ludwig and an outdoor cat called Shredder. The birth of Zak and his CP diagnosis changed their lives for the better, even though it was through many struggles and trials. Their family felt complete when they adopted Madison from medical foster care in early 2013. Nathan serves on the board of two organizations: Parent to Parent of Colorado and the Colorado Foundation for Conductive Education. In 2010, Nathan and Renee created a website to blog, post videos and connect with other families raising children with special needs. Nathan and Renee work from home, enjoy family time and love date nights at those instructed-paint-and-drink-wine-places.

 

 

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