I Hear You
Lily can speak. She is talking to us in five word sentences or more now, requesting items and commenting on the world around her in ways she has never been able to do before. Every day she says something that inspires me & reminds me she understands everything that is happening around her & is very much a part of the world around her even when she seems as though she’s in her own world. Otherwise, she couldn’t put together the pieces that make the sentences she explores. She gets it. Her twin sister Maggie is enjoying the new side of her sister. She’s watched Lily’s speech slowly emerge & without warning it was suddenly there. Quite often I will find her staring at her sister in disbelief as she narrates what she is doing with a toy during play. When her sister talks Maggie listens.
Lily is still attending a special school designed for children with speech difficulties & specifically apraxia. She is learning to read, write & speak simultaneously. The results have been a revelation. It has been suggested Lily may have a condition called Hyperlexia. It is defined as the precocious ability to read words without prior training in learning to read typically before the age of 5. Children with hyperlexia have a significantly higher word decoding ability than their reading comprehension levels. You can read the full Wikipedia article here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperlexia. For Lily it enables her to memorize ideas & patterns with ease & like a dictionary store them in her mind for later use never forgetting them. The challenge is finding a way for her to sort those ideas out & recall that information when needed & not just remember it as it surfaces on the water. The idea that Lily can memorize patterns of speech means visual representations (reading & typing) accompanied with memorized patterns of speech will push her to succeed. It already has. She has exceeded the expectations of a 4 year old in out patient therapy & fascinates the faculty there. It is almost as if the more complicated you make the situation, the easier it is for Lily to focus. Recently, Lily was shown 15-20 cards which were phonemes on a table to choose a particular sound. She was presented with the sound & she found it almost immediately in a pile of at least 20 cards. The teachers there tell me they only use 3 options for a reason to use during phoneme practice as choices. It is extraordinary Lily can think so quickly with so much visual information in front of her with the sensory sensitivities she has.
Lily is not just improving in speech she is improving with play. She is finally able to use her body on playground equipment as it was intended and can easily motor plan herself on a new toy without hesitation. Once upon a time she avoided riding a bike because of the steps it took to ride it. She would get lost. Now she rides her trike and can mount and push herself along on her training wheel bike also. She got on a new swing just yesterday that she has never tried before and mastered it in less than five minutes. She can pull herself up ladders and into playhouses and down the slide yelling “I did it!” She just learned how to climb the Rock wall with little help and good precision, a big leap from how she struggled in the beginning.
We struggle with the simple things that those of us can do without thinking about it. Like starting the day. What comes first without a visual schedule that isn’t in our mind to begin our day? How do you brush your teeth, take a bath, get dressed and begin something? The definition of occupational therapy is the definitive nature of who we are as human beings. It is the survival of the fittest and it determines our place in this world and grants that we find it. This is precisely the area that we are working on with Lily. Although sensory integration can be the roots of where the problem lies dormant, and speech is important as the soul of communication so too is being able to put on your shoes and feed yourself with utensils.
Because a child’s first occupation is play & Lily is just beginning to flourish with her pretend play skills we know these skills are developing albeit slowly. Play becomes work as we progress into adulthood. We begin with organizing play schemes and that transforms itself into the same patterns we use to organize our work & even our emotions later in life. Organizational skills and ideas all start with an imagination. Imagination is a word my daughters need not be able to define to own their meaning. It belongs to them. I’ve never been so honored to be a part of something so meaningful as the life of these children. As imaginary as the play is they imitate life with every step.
With each step Lily takes with her sister by her side will be a graceful one. And though Lily may struggle with the things that we can do without even thinking about it, she can think about things that our wildest imaginations could never dream about. And though Lily may struggle to speak her mind she has something to say, and it’s the thought that counts–when it’s said she means it. Lily can speak– the world is her audience listening, I hear you.