A Mum’s Story

We are so honoured to have played a little part in this wonderful story. When mum told us her story – we said “You must write this down for others to read.”

She graciously did so and our hope is that it encourages someone to keep going; to seek help when necessary from the right sources and follow through.

It is also a testament to what can be achieved when all parties work together for the good of a child. When egos, personal perceptions and mindsets are set aside, miracles can happen.

*MY MIRACLE*

Not to brag but I am a very hands-on mum…..you know the type, know all her children’s teachers, attends all their functions, ensures they have fruits every day, checks their homework every day, etc. So when I heard the words Social Communication Disorder, my heart sank. I wondered if I had done anything wrong; if I could have done better. But I braced up and said to myself – “This is just a challenge. We’ve got this.”

I am a working wife and mum with four children. For purposes of this story, I will call myself Mrs. O. I have a demanding but flexible job and my husband’s job is quite demanding too, coupled with the fact that we had started a personal business a.k.a “side hustle,” it was a demanding but beautiful life. We had our days but in all we were grateful to God for His blessings. My last pregnancy was unexpected and, at the time, very unwelcome. I had three children under six years old and several health issues; this was not the time for another child!!! Then, the many challenges with that pregnancy started and culminated in a 10-day almost life and death drama and then daily injections for the last nine weeks of my pregnancy. Finally, he was born. Healthy and not a sign of all the excitement we both went through- simply perfect. He was the apple of everyone’s eye. No-fuss and always serene. I used to battle with his siblings to carry him. Just a look would send any of them running to guess what he wanted or if he was okay. The words “Mummy, it seems Son wants …..” was repeated over fifty times in a day. He grew and attained his milestones at the right age and walked early like his siblings. He started to mumble in preparation to talk and everything was fine.

At 20 months, like his siblings, he started preschool. He coped very well with schoolwork but we began to notice he was uncharacteristically silent. We brushed it off as a result of his siblings “over attentive-ness.” To make it worse once in a while, he would rattle off complete and coherent sentences and then go silent for days, pointing and gesturing to his ever-attentive siblings. A little voice kept nagging, but those random sentences kept my fears at bay. He was talking, just not as much as he should at his age.

Then his teacher requested to see us both. Aunty H, our blessing in disguise. She had taught our other three children excellently and set them on a path for excellence. She confided in us that she was concerned about his delayed speech. She said it might be nothing but it wouldn’t hurt to check him out. She referred us to Dr. G, a speech pathologist she had worked with over the years.

Apparently, this was not new to her. She was pleasant and very friendly. She briefed us on how the evaluation would take place, asked us some questions, then got on the floor and began to engage Son. After everything, we left Son playing on the floor. She said there were some concerns. He was on the spectrum, but very mildly. He had Social Communication Disorder (SCD), my heart sank. Then she said that it was something that could be resolved…..sigh! What a relief! She told us we had some work ahead of us, and it would be difficult at times, but in the end, we would see results. She then explained that SCD was a person not communicating effectively because their social cues were limited. She said we were fortunate to have come very early because the older he got, the worse it would have been, and then the ripple effects of poor grades and poor communication skills would have led to frustration and on and on. At this age, especially since he just started school, the corrective measures would be effective, she explained. She explained that we would have to take away TV for at least six full months for starters and when we could resume would depend on his progress……You say? Six months of no television in a house with four children under 9 years? Haaa! I thought but kept quiet. She explained that for children that age, TV put them in a false world and could distort their social adjustment and speech pattern…..REALLY?! She gave us a list of multivitamins to encourage brain growth, list of toys (this was how I met Rhimamory even though I had known of her before then). She also told us he would also be needing therapy at school and home during school breaks. She said the treatment would be best in the morning and would talk with his school to schedule it as his first class of the day. You see, Son’s school was a Montessori (even though Aunty H would call it child-oriented) school. Lessons were tailored specifically to each child and at each child’s pace, except for joint lessons such as French. So adjusting his schedule was not a problem.

And so the journey began. We had to explain Son’s challenges to our other children. They were concerned and had lots of questions but relaxed when we said it would only be for a while and we all had to help him. We also explained they would have to stop aiding son when he points so he would be forced to communicate. We were also to ensure he did his schoolwork seated at a table. He detested this, as his favourite position was lying on his tummy. I also decided I would not give him anything he asked for except he used his words. We had good days and horrible days. Some days he’d be obstinate and refuse to use his words and keep pointing and I would refuse to give him what he wanted. He would cry and cry and my heart would break. I must admit, I gave in a few times, but generally, we all stuck to the plan. During midterm, therapy started at home and all I can say is Aunty G, his therapist, was a patient soul. He cried, he stamped his feet, he screamed, and her voice never changed. Calm and firm.

So it went, and by the end of that term- a mere three months, we could see the changes already. By our next evaluation, the six-month mark, Son was officially a chatter-box. Sometimes, we would literally beg him to keep quiet, jokingly, of course. It was as if he had been bottling up his thoughts and he was finally free. The words came rushing out non-stop. Dr. G said we needed some more work to teach him other vocal skills and nuances. We persevered, and by his 4th birthday, he was up to speed. However, we continued therapy till he concluded nursery 1.

Today, Son is my most expressive child. He is confident and very vocal. His challenge with speech is now a distant memory. Sometimes he says something beyond his years, and my husband and I exchange a look and have a good laugh. A laugh that is filled with joy and gratitude to God and all the angels he sent our way and gratitude that we listened when we did and did not resist advice.

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