Thursday, August 26, 2004

Sorry for the Momentary Self-Indulgence…

I must exit the political arena for a brief moment and solicit some advise from the wise souls that browse this site. As September 10th draws near, I am faced with the dilemma of whether to put my youngest, Mason 3 ¾, into pre-school. The program is two days a week for three hours. What’s the big decision, you ask?

Mason has been diagnosed with a severe articulation disorder. (First thought to be apraxia, but now because of the progress that he has made in two years of speech therapy they are backing away from this opinion). He has a wonderful vocabulary (often referring to his older brother as a ‘liberal wiener’), a great sense of humor, and a desire to tell us so many things –but other than Justice, me, sometimes his dad (and a very few close friends)…no one can understand him. This frustrates the hell out of him. This comes in handy sometimes for me –like when he was pointing to a strange-looking old man in the supermarket asking, “Why ‘e so uggy?” “That’s not a buggy honey….”

Many kids with apraxia have only one or two (but often no) words. I always say, “For a kid that can’t talk –he never seems to shut up” (not in front of him of course). I have talked with his SLP (speech/language pathologist) about the possibility of beginning pre-school. She informed me that there are two schools of thought:

1) Some children benefit greatly from the interaction with others their age, and subsequently that interaction prompts ‘regular speech’ –or—

2) Some children get so frustrated in an environment where no one understands them that they totally withdraw and completely stop talking.

Now, Mason is quite aware that his speech is unintelligible (which they tell us is a major plus as some children have no idea). He is fully cognizant when he is saying something wrong and it seems to be a neurological/motor delay that keeps his mouth from moving the way his brain wants it to. This leads me to the conclusion that hearing other children talk isn’t going to change anything for him.

I was never a big believer in pre-school and used to just think it was an excuse for parents to slough off their kids for a few hours a day. However, Justice begged to go and really enjoyed the ‘social’ aspect of it. Mason also asks to go –some days, but others he says that ‘no one un-stand me mom’. I just want to cry –because they won’t understand him --and they will be frustrated and legally they won’t be able to tell me (he would be covered by the Children with Disabilities Act which seems to scare the hell out of teachers). Thus my dilemma…if there could be a ‘trial period’, and they could tell me if they were miserable and if he was miserable, I would give it a try. They won’t tell me though because legally they can’t. I want to show him that I have confidence in him and the major strides that he has made (one example: ‘T’ was boy or toy…now he says ‘b-o-u-y’ and ‘t-o-u-y’ –I know it seems small but was a MAJOR thing!) and let him have this experience.

Is it worth the chance if it erodes the self-confidence that speech therapy has built? I don’t have much longer to decide & I would love to hear some opinions!

Sorry for the momentary self-indulgence…


Tom said...

The Feet That Came From The Blogosphere - In 3D!

~Jen~ said...

Those pictures are great!

You really need to speak with my friend scarlotta. She's home sick today. I'll see if she is up to typing.

I'll send you an email about this...

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

I have a brother who is autistic, so I have some experience in this general area. I would say that integration into a more social atmosphere is the better thing *FOR* him, although there will be times that social situations might get tough for a little kid to cope with. There will definitely be times for you to put on your "nurturing mother hat" and soothe some crying on his part about teasing and such, but in the long run I think it will be worth putting him into preschool. It might even act as some additional speech therapy, as he communicates with kids his age, playing, etc.

this we'll defend said...

Damn that's a tough call. Kids can be very cruel. And you don't want him to be embarrassed or feel unliked/unloved at school. School can be hell for kids that want to have friends and for some reason don't - but you already know that and that is why you are wondering what the right thing to do is right now.

Is there a likelihood that he will be able to articulate "normally" one day? If so and that day is close I might delay school. That way when he does start he won't have as many difficulties making friends.

If not then he has to start school one day. He needs to learn to socialize with others despite his speech. Meeting other kids at a young age, when they don't know what "normal" is yet either, might make it easier on him to make friends now. I guess a better way to put it is that other kids need to learn to socialize with him, for he sounds perfect except for his speech. A structured environment with a teacher that helps guide the other children into accepting him and becoming friends with him might be just the thing.

I wanted to cry when I read your post. He sounds like a great kid, a genius even. To be 3 3/4 years old and say things like "nobody will understand me." He is socially advanced and obviously smart, but that must break your heart. All kids have to endure social pain at some time or another and with a mom like you I imagine he will do just fine even though the going will be rough at first. When the other kids get used to him he won't be seen as unusual, he will be seen as Mason the great and wonderful little boy he is.

It will be much harder on you though. Much harder. The choice you are facing is harder than any I have ever faced. Thank God he has a family like you that loves him so much.

I will be praying for you. PLEASE exit the political arena and keep us updated often.

Tom said...


I hope you realize I wasn't making light of your dilemma. I only saw the picture at first, and read the whole of your text when I came back to the site.

I have a niece, my sister's oldest, now a very smart, mile a minute talking adult with kids of her own, who was verrrry slow to develop language skills and lagged far behind kids her age even when she started kindergarten. She used to fill word gaps in her sentences with short grunts, but like Mason, she had a lot to say. She especially like to tell long narratives, and not having all of the words never deterred her.

She grew up in the late 60's/early 70s, when MDs and pediatricians very rarely diagnosed kids under five of anything worse than "being slow" and prescribed the old "wait and see" therapy. Unless a child was clinically retarded or stricken with Down Syndrome, the professionals stayed out of it. This was also the pre-pre-school era, and the age of the stay-at-home mom hand't completely ended, so professional intervention (as I guess it's called) didn't occur so early in a child's life.

My sister "worked" with her throughout what are now the pre-school years, reading to her, watching television with her, listening to her narratives and helping her fill in the gaps. And she progressed to the point where, as I said, you couldn't shut her up.

I'm not disparaging the professionals who initially diagnosed your son, but I find it curious they had to amend their opinion after he had "some time", and I certainly don't pretend to have the answer to your dilemma. I just think 3 1/2 is a little young to determine with any certainty that a "problem" exists. I don't care what anybody says, for all our culture's new age sensitivity to the uniqeness of every individual, these child care professionals are obsessed with "averages", and the child who doesn't fit their formula has "special needs", and they're diagnosing them at younger and younger ages.

The only thing I see them accomplishing with all of their tests and therapies and Ritalin prescriptions is paying off their student loans earlier than the rest of us.

Pardon my cynicism, but I think your son has a distinct advantage having such an intelligent mother.

justrose said...

you know I know all about the "doesn't-exactly-fit-the-mold" developmental delay.

I think he is such an amazing little dude, and frankly since he will probably be my son-in-law one day (if he has any say in it, judging from what he's already told you)I would urge you to try it out and see. Try it. Seriously. See. If it doesn't fly, then, wait. There's no rush. There's no need to stampede toward the finish line, as someone else said. From someone who got, "well, it's taken an awfully long time for her to learn to chew, and we can't exactly pinpoint why" I'm here to say that someday, it will all come down to a complete and mellifluous pronunciation of the pledge of allegiance, and you'll wonder why you ever worried.

But that's the thing about being a mom, isn't it: without the engine of your care and concern, the whole thing can't run. I know you'll make the right decision whatever it is.

Bigandmean said...

Mason will adjust. He's smart, has great family support and he'll earn the respect of the other kids quickly. He and P seem to be doing just fine....seeing as how they're already planning their wedding.

I think the absolute hardest thing to do as a parent is to let give a gentle shove out of the nest. God gives mothers the gift of knowing the right time to shove and to pull back. You'll know it when the time comes. Admitting to yourself that the time has arrived is the hard part.

Bigandmean said...

By the way, you're not being self-indulgent. You're just being Mason's mom instead of saving the world from the politically misguided. One thing at a time, Mom.

scarlotta62 said...

Jen and I were just talking about you on the phone. I have so much to tell you about my husband's and my struggles with our "little buddy" over the past couple of years (he's 4 1/2 now). BigandMean is right, you do know the right time, and what action to take. God just takes care of that for us. We have our anxieties, crying, questioning the "specialists", wondering what we did wrong, but it all comes together. I'd love to chat with you about my experiences. Jen is going to get in touch with you to see if you are up to a "visit".

I hope to talk to you soon. It really will be ok.

exfbonnie said...

Hey Ala71 - This is going to be long. I just cant spit shit out.
The pictrures are sooo cute!!!!!!! did you take the one of his feet?

What a truly loving mom you are. This post is was very important, and Im glad you shared it, and felt comfortable enough to share it. I found that blogging some of this stuff out helped so much with getting feedback and perspective.
Heres the thing. You know your son very well and better than anyone. So only you know what he will be able to handle. You know the strength of human no matter what the situation - he will pull through. He has an apparent loving, and strong family.

I realize in my childhood that most of my sense of worth came from my family...and since my self worth wasnt very built there (I was loved immensly, they just didnt know how to build self esteem, this can be very difficult for a number reasons), I went to me peers for validation, at a very young age. So almost everything was built upon that...I went from being so very needed for acceptance, to being hurt and depression, to anger, and finally to realizing my self worth. That was the whole process of getting there. Which does not kill you makes you stronger.

On that note, my mother also never let us face falling on our asses. So it has taken some of us in our family and many mistakes later, to get it, but we had to go through everything my mom never let happen...or at least we always thought we were invicible. So yes, I know this isnt referring to your situation. BUt the human spirit endures, and does what it needs to are the foundation for strength. Things will be hard, but he and you will cope.

I have a couple relatives with speech problems. A cousin who is 3 3/4...He is not in preschool, but he was seeing a speech therapist for several months- the social aspect hasnt seem to come up, but he seems like he has things going all the time socially. He does fine, but of course gets frustrated from time to time, but now it seems like he deals with it by just trying. Im not sure if my aunt was just going to wait till he was 4 or 5. Shes a stay at home mom, so she has some time.

Both my younger and brother and sister had speech impediments. SOmetimes I can still hear it...but most of the world never seems to notice it really - I guess it still seems like they are still small again and I hear them as if they were 3-5 again. They went to a speech school (some delayed disabilities motor and oral) of some sort and they still had the speech things going on a little...but they went on to kindergarten, and so on and now they are almost 21 and 20 respectively, and I think they actually have never been teased about the way they talked or talk, except by their twin sisters. Any social issues they had, were not from their speech but from self worth issues.
Let me say this again, we were loved very deeply, very affectionate, but my parents flew by the seat of their pants and didnt have a clue on most things. I think this is true for many people, maybe even the majority.

I also have another cousin who just turned 16. I think he was just recently diagnosed with mild Aspergers. But for years upon years, since he was 2 or 3 they were trying to figure out what was going on, and in that, he
missed most of any socialization with peers.
He still does, and I think he quit school recently because he just didnt want to go becasue he was so used to being him to himself. My aunt homeschooled for quite a while and I think he enjoyed not having to do much, especially physically, and socially. Her older son (18, also home schooled till highschool), didnt have any problems like his brother, but he is spoiled and has lots of friends. Anyway, it seemed that my aunt for so long kept him from socializing because she was afraid for him I guess, but with so many things going on she never saw that this caused major problems....this cousin (16) was very awkward with family, and not only that, he seemed to be attatched to certain females in the family and it made them all feel very uncomfortable. My aunt missed everything that was going on and denied that there was anything wrong. This was such a messed up time and put strain on various family members on my moms side. Some of us saw glimses of a future psychopath/anti social lost boy. This is a very extreme case, but I think much of this had to do with my aunt sympathizing too much that there were no boundries set, like going to school or going out. (She has also been in a trainwreck of a divorce that has been carried out for almost over 10 years -my cousin to some extent had gone to the way side...and she was trying to get herself out of mess that she really couldnt see what was going on with my cousin.
Being that it was only recently that my aunt finally figured out what was going on with him, it cleared up much about his lack of motor skills, and speech (also motor difficulties forming the words). But it doesnt change the fact that socialization could have helped him in other ways. I actually have to say Im not sure what will happen with him.

Anyway, these are all very different situations, but wanted to share with you - that it seems like this has always been an issue on my moms side of the family. These issues are more common than any one would have thought. But I figured I would let you know that you are and were not alone in making decisions like these. Its a tough one to make...but you can always see how things work out, a trial period, and if it doesnt work make changes that seem to be necessary.

Are there alternative schools? OR day time rec programs like music, gymnastics, swimming, play hours for tots, etc?
My aunt's 3 year old (1st story) - was very excited to be going to "running school" - a huge play area at the rec center a few times a week. he wanted to go to school like his big brother, so my aunt just termed these outings as...Whatever "School."
He loves it and seems to be normal in play like his peers, so it hasnt really been an issue. But if you are interested in whats going on with him and maybe get some insight on how she has delt with it, let me know and I will give you her e-mail or number...She is wonderful and I find she has lots of insight on kids that I seems to miss.

Ala71 - You will be able to make the decision at the right time. Trust that the time will present itself to you, to make the best decision for you and Mason. I find that things Ive stressed over for so long ultimately give an answer in time. Usually in retrospect, I find that I just didnt have enough information (or understanding of the problem) at the time to make a decision. And its TIME that tells you, not the other way around.

Best wishes and you and your family are in our thoughts for this.

~Jen~ said...

These posts are great. What an amazing, eclectic little support group we have!!!!!

Jericho Brown said...

I was looking at your profile and I noticed that you placed a book by Ann Coulter and a book by Sean Hannity as two of your favorites. Please, if you have any concern at all for TRUTH and not merely liberal or conservative politics drawn across party lines, read the chapters in Al Franken's book Lies and the Lying Liars where he details explicitly, with documented evidence, how both Hannity and Coulter LIE in the very two books you cited. It has nothing to do with opinions here, more liberal or conservative or whatever, but about how those two deliberately mislead their readers. If you can be open-minded about it and look at empirical evidence, I'm sure you'll have a change of heart about those two books. Any rational person would be. Thanks.

Jericho Brown said...

So if you've read Franken's book then how do you account for all the deliberately misleading graphs and "footnotes" used by Coulter and Hannity. As I said, this has nothing to do with partisanship. I'm not talking about an ex-SNL alum's political beliefs. I am speaking only of his complete discrediting of Hannity and Coulter. He COMPLETELY exposed their lies. There's no opinion about it. He showed how Hannity lied using misleading graphs, how Coulter used a variety of techniques to lie in her footnotes. If you really looked at his book and actually READ it, then I don't see how you could still support two people that lie so gratuitously to make their points.

Frater Bovious said...

Ala, you have a lot of great friends.

Jericho Brown, please pick the post you are responding to with a little bit of savvy next time.

Only thing I would add to the above is that kids that age catch on to things pretty fast. I knew a kid in grade school that could not speak clearly. By the end of the school year, everyone knew what he was saying, just like you understand your child. It seems the words are there, just not complete, from what you have described. A little flexibility on the part of the listener will fix that, and little kids are as flexible as they come.

But little kids are also capable of cruelty; the best defense against something like that for a kid is a mother like, well, you!! If you remember when you were a kid (lo these many years ago), you can absorb a lot of pain if you know Mommy is there for you.

Is this Children's with Disability Act a Pennsylvania thing? We ain't got that here in Texas. What prevents you from having a candid chat with the school administration and the teacher? Can they really not talk to you about issues with your kid because he is differently abled (as they say)? That seems kind of stupid from where I'm sitting. fb

MrMalcolm said...

That's really unfortunate timing Jericho. With all these posters, both conservative and liberal, showing concern and compassion for a little boy, you insist on talking about politics. Your sense of compassion blows me away.

ALa said...

Thank you everyone for your kind words! I had a feeling that I could glean some great advice this way! (Mason was thrilled to see two pictures of him up and none of his brother! LOL) Thank again --I really appreciate it!

Frater: The CWDA is meant to help children so they can't be discriminated against in the case of a disability --but, like medical malpractice, it has been abused -and the same way doctor's now practice offensive medicine -the teachers have to be SO politically correct that it's hard to get a straight honest answer. I understand because we live in a pretty litigious society, but for those of us that are not prone to sue it can be quite frustrating. Legally, I don't think she could say to me -we can't understand him and I am not sure if he should be in this class....which I would want her to say if it was the truth.
Today I was thinking of asking her if she would tell me 'off the record' or if we could have a handshake that would signal it...LOL

Once again -thanks to all -I guess including Jericho who reminded me why I am supposed to be here! haha...

91ghost said...

I don't have an answer. My 2 cents is to keep him out of pre-school for now while he continues to make progress with his speech and then find some kind of playgroup for him where you can be there to monitor the situation.

cheeky monkey said...

Hi Ala-- thanks for sharing.

A few thoughts-- First, I think pre school can be great for both parents and kids. Works for some, not for others, but please don't think of it as a way for parents to slough off their kids. With ever greater numbers teachers, doctors and early education folks are realizing the amazing benefits that early early education has on children. They are so much smarter than anyone used to think and early school settings can be wonderful places for them to grow and thrive. So I hope you consider it. To me, a 3 ½ year old needs to be around other people and situations to grow into a super confident and adaptable kid.

And since Mason is a super smart kid anyway, it would probably be a wonderful thing for him. In terms of teasing, I think the best approach is to talk with his teachers very frankly and check in regularly. Stop by the school in sneak visits to see how he's doing and if he's happy. Try and talk to other parents too. YOU'LL KNOW if he's miserable and then you pull him out.

But I think it's worth a shot. Could help him a great deal, or just make him happy to be doing new things and making new friends.

Finally, have you had his hearing checked? My nephew has serious speech problems resulting from non-diagnosed hearing loss. Basically and endless ear infection that prevented him from hearing right. He's been in speech therapy for a year and a half and it is helping a lot. But some of the vocalizations sound similar and very few people can understand the little critter.

Good Luck. I'm sure he'll so great whatever you decide.
NOW GET BACK TO DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE (Bush) and attacking the courageous and smart (Kerry)

Kat said...

Ala...few words. I have a nephew, nearly the same problem. Send him to pre-school. He and the other children are so young, they don't have those built in prejudicial mechanisms of adults so it's an excellent way to get "socialization" as well as him hanging out with his peers and being able to listen and learn from other speech patterns.

In regards to the "misfiring neurons" that are causing the problem, I want to tell you as a health professional that there have been many studies that show people, in particular victims of heart attacks, can "relearn" or learn to use other synapsis is the brain to control motor functions. It's actually a learning process. You should look into that at least.

Somebody else pointed this out, but I will rephrase it a bit...Children get their self esteem from their parents at such a young age. I realize you realize that you walk a fine line between "helpful and loving" and "overprotective". Let him go a little. You keep supporting him. He'll soar with the eagles.

franky said...

Wishing yur baby a nice weekend ahead.