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.


jaded said...

Your label says so much....stubborn mothers are equally effective.

Anonymous said...

It's hard when you pick up a label, or a diagnosis. You need time to get used to it, and to realize that the future hasn't changed. You didn't know before and you don't know now what it will bring. It certainly sounds like you are proceeding with open hearts and minds. I hope that whatever you need to do will help to ease your daughter's frustration and help her do her best. Be well. Hope you have some peace of mind.

Maggie said...

Jaded, thanks. I do believe she gets it from me.

De, things are getting better. We had a meeting with another specialist who told us that inspite of the disability, she has strong curiosity, eagerness to learn and uses many great coping strategies which apparently is quite advanced for her age. (The specialist said she hadn't seen it in a Kindergartner before). These are excellent signs because they indicate she will not give in to frustration and be able to learn quicker than a child who has given up or cannot develop coping strategies easily. So, we're happy about that. I think it will be all right. Just another one of those things you deal with. I don't suppose it changes the type of mother I am. I would be encouraging and hopeful no matter what was going on.

andrea frazer said...

As the mom of a labeled kid - we got the Tourettes diagnosis 4 years ago - I can say that it does take time to not see them as their label... to not fear for the future. Our situations are very different, obviously, and maybe you are less prone to panic then I am. But if you are worried, please know that in time the label is just that - a clue to put your brain around what is going on. It is not an end. My son's TS has not stopped him one tiny bit, and I can guarantee the same will be true of your daughter. Also, in closing, we can only be truly devastated if we compare what the diagnosis is against what our own hopes and dreams are for our kids. In my case, a kid who sometimes tics is only flat lining when I wish he were like other kids who don't roll their eyes or cough four times/minute. But for him, it's who he is. And what's wrong with that? Nothing. It's my issue - and it's been so much better. But sometimes, it's raw still. That is normal.


andrea frazer said...

So how are things going now?