My mum has always had trouble pronouncing words. When I was growing up, other kids used to ask me where she got her accent from?? She says, at school, she was bullied by the other children- they called her ‘china man’ My mum was also bullied by the teachers as they often gave her the cane, or she was made to stand in the corner with the dunce cap on because she couldn’t say her words correctly.
When my eldest daughter was turning 3. We could really notice that she was not speaking as well as other children her age. Some days this inability to communicate would infuriate her so much that she would bash her own head into the wall in sheer frustration. My heart was breaking for her. My life had turned into sleepless nights and tears….from me!! Of course the alarm bells were ringing!! I took my daughter to speech therapy drop-in clinics, appointments with child behavioral experts and private speech therapy. She even attended a special language intervention preschool. The Speech therapist diagnosed her with Dispraxia/Apraxia. I was determined to do whatever I could for her, so I practiced her sounds with her every moment I could. I made flash-card after flash-card and stuck wall charts all over the house. I Purchased any item that implied that it would help her….must of driven the poor kid mad!
By the end of her pre-school year my daughter showed no obvious signs of Dispraxia. At the start of primary school it had all become a distant memory. Wikipedia defines Dispraxia as “a motor learning difficulty that can affect planning of movements and co-ordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body”. Flash, who seems to clearly remember what it felt like to have Dispraxia has told me “ try talking while holding your tongue between your teeth, you think you are saying the right thing but it comes out the wrong way”. I have since wondered if all the effort and intervention actually really helped her, or would she have come through all right on her own? My second daughter had showed no signs of language difficulty. Surely I wouldn’t have to go through that again??...
…then came Buster. Buster is an awesome kid. If you take the time to get to know him you learn that he is out-going, imaginative, a comedian, affectionate, loving and caring. However, he also has the hardest time speaking. As he sounds identical to what my daughter did, I am pretty sure he too has Dispraxia. Even though I can basically understand what he is saying, strangers, (especially those who don’t even try to understand) have absolutely no idea what he says. Because he is so out-going, he is not quiet in public spaces. Honestly, the looks and stares I get from some people, often, sadly, mothers with young children, make me feel judged, alienated and alone.
However, I have not panicked as much with Buster as I did with my eldest daughter. He does not show the same signs of frustration as his older sister, and I know that she can now speak well. I took Buster for a speech assessment in March this year, and he has been on the waiting list for further assessment since then. I finally have an appointment for him in a few weeks. Most of me is happy and relieved that he will finally be getting the help that he needs. A small part of me however is reluctant to be on the speech therapy merry-go-round all over again….