Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Around every new corner

Dysphasia. A developmental language disability. The possibility of never reaching the level of competence to attend University. The lifelong persistence. A mother's initial shock, then determination, confusion, desire, self-blame. You name it, the mom thing of course becomes at once unreasonable and highly mentally organized for a future plan of attack. Better to oscillate more toward plan of attack.

Our daughter has had a preliminary diagnosis of developmental dysphasia. Basically it means that her brain didn't develop language skills the way it ought to have and that causes her to have difficulty expressing herself, understanding others, learning new language concepts and so forth. She's developed a coping mechanism in Kindergarten by watching the other kids and figuring out what she's supposed to be doing. However, she doesn't always guess right and this causes frustration for her. She has a very difficult time developing personal relationships because of it.

On the other hand, she's quite intelligent. She's highly creative and has always maintained a drawing skill level higher than most kids her age. So dysphasia doesn't mean she lacks intelligence, it means she can't express it well or process other people's input well. She expresses herself better through drawing. I suspect this may be a compensation effect similar to blind people's ability to hear more acutely etc.

From here forward. We are just now processing what this all means. But mostly it looks like it means speech therapists and specialized schooling. Mostly we want her to feel like nothing has essentially changed. We don't think differently about her, her new school (she will likely start next September for the next year) or anything else about her. We still want her to grow up thinking of her school career including University and that she can do whatever she chooses to put her mind to. If in high school it becomes apparent that University certainly isn't going to be possible, then we'll be there for her, encouraging her toward her talents and passions and that will be that. So yeah. Still figuring it all out. For now, one step at a time. She's only five. We've got time on our side.