When People Ignore My Daughter With Apraxia After She Speaks
When you have a child with a speech disability, the stares from people can get overwhelming. Now don’t get me wrong, most people are looking at me to figure out what my child just said with no real intent to be rude.
Most of the time, I repeat what she says with a smile on my face. I’m happy to do it. As her mother, I’ve been given the gift of being able to understand and decipher what she’s really trying to say.
For instance, she replaces all of her S sounds with an F, and all of her M words are replaced with an N. I could go on, but I’m sure you get my point.
But how do you handle it when there are no stares and people just ignore your child as if she said nothing at all. You wait for their eyes to meet yours, but it never happens.
Instead, they give a very noticeable head nod and crooked grin. It makes them feel immediately uncomfortable, and they think by ignoring my child, they don’t have to make the situation worse. Worse for who I wonder?
Because here’s the thing, if I noticed your uncomfortable grin, then my daughter did, too. So I’m sorry if you might feel uncomfortable, but I will always repeat what my daughter said whether you look like you care to finish the conversation or not. I would much rather you as the adult feel uncomfortable then my child. That’s exactly how she will feel being ignored by you. She can read that uncomfortable grin you have on your face just as well as I can. I never want my daughter to think what she has to share with the world isn’t worthy of hearing.
So yes, I will address the elephant in the room whether you want to or not.
When my daughter was younger, I would get an incredible amount of suggestions from people on how to help her. These “suggestions” weren’t made by experts or anyone who had experience with speech disorders. Nonetheless, the same comments kept being made over and over again as I smiled through everyone of them.
“Oh, she’ll get there.” (I heard this one was constantly.)
“My second cousin had problems with their R sounds for awhile.” (Yeah, sorry, that’s not the same thing, I would think to myself.)
“Einstein didn’t talk until he was 5.” (My “favorite” and the most popular.)
Instead, please ask questions like, “Hey, how’s therapy going?” or “What does her therapist think about her progress?”
I need you to understand what apraxia of speech really is. My daughter will not wake up one day and snap out of it. She will not turn 5 years old like Einstein and just speak. She will have to work for every sound and every word. She will probably continue with speech therapy for a long time.
At some point, I need you to acknowledge it. If you don’t ask questions, then I can’t tell you. And if you don’t listen, then you will never learn. The issue will always remain the elephant in the room.
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