Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"Oh." And The Importance Of Speech

This is Beth's go to word lately. It doesn't matter what we're talking about or where we are, her response has been "Oh."

We were at the store last night and she had already said it about 10 times since we'd left the house so I started telling her about it. How she always says "Oh" now. It's not an excited "Oh!" or a contemplative "Oh." 

Just a monotone, unexpressive "Oh."

So we're walking around the grocery store and I said something to her, don't remember what it was and she automatically answered with "Oh." 

But then she burst out laughing! I pushed her a little, "See! You do say it a lot!" and we laughed some more.

We got to the cash register and I checked out first. Beth has done this many times by herself so I usually just step aside and just keep an eye on her to make sure everything goes okay. Well this time when Beth got to the register, one of the clerks, A, a friend of Diana's came up and asked me about a friend of theirs. A is hard-of-hearing so even though I was fully engaged with her, I was only a few feet away from Beth as she checked out.

As we were walking out of the store, Beth sadly held up her receipt and told me that she didn't get any cash back. I often tell her how much she can get out when she uses her debit card but I forgot this time and was busy with A. She didn't say, "Mom I'm getting out $20!" like her sisters would have. She didn't say anything. She just quietly checked out. She really needed to get cash out and was visibly sad about it so I ended up loaning her some money for today.


I wish someone would have told me 20 years ago just how important speech would be today, when Beth was an adult and trying to get around in the world. Beth had speech therapy in school but she needed more. And it's not just about grammar and pronunciation either. There is so much more that surrounds speech, like confidence and boldness. There's the ability to look at people's faces when you're speaking. There's knowing the topic and direction of the conversation and Beth doesn't have any of those skills. 

I know part of that is our fault for speaking for her while she was growing up. People would get impatient waiting for her to talk so Chuck and I would do it for her. I didn't know we needed to wait 10 seconds so Beth could answer. That she needed that time to process what's been said, form an answer in her mind and then speak it out.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

I tend to compare Beth with Sharaya and Diana and we didn't have to teach them how to talk to others. I'm sure there was a time or two of "You need to look at me." Or, "Wait, wait. Take a deep breath and start again." And I know we did those same things with Beth but now I realize we should have done more.

We should have broken it down step by step: raising her chin, focusing her eyes, standing or sitting up straight. And we would have needed to do this over and over. And over. I just never thought about what her communication skills would be like in her 30's when she was trying to hold a conversation, how she communicated with her boyfriend or needed to get her moms attention in the grocery store.


Billie Jo said...

The way you write with such love for your daughter trumps any "woulda coulda shoulda".
Tell yourself that at each moment of her life, you did exactly what you felt was best, or what worked best at that moment.
And then...believe it.
Because it is true.
Hugs. : )

Krista said...

Cindy, I know that even though you feel this way, you are doing a great job raising Beth. That being said, I do really appreciate you sharing your experiences. As someone earlier on in the game I really glean from your stories and your relationship with Beth, so thank you thank you thank you for writing!

Cranberry Morning said...

I agree with Billie Jo! it's wise advice. We adopted two special needs boys when they were 2 and 3 years old. There are things that 'I wish I had known then what I know now.' But we really did the best we could, especially since we didn't get a diagnosis until they were 13 and 14. God bless you as you journey with Beth. I enjoyed your post.

Rebecca Jo said...

It is SO important... My niece is 12 years old & hates to talk to anyone - like order food in a restaurant, or to pay for anything on her own. she just refuses. & her parents totally do it for her. She hates when we go out because I make her do it... but she's 12. What's going to happen when she's an adult - or even in college & needs to do things on her own & parents are near? Sometimes those shoves needs to happen - even if you are the bad guy.
We all forget how much communication is needed ... especially in a world where the next generation communicates solely behind screens.
... did I just riled up or what? ;) haha

Katie Clooney said...

Hi Cindy... I love reading your stories about Beth. You are such a wonderful mother. We all have Mom Guilt and we also do the best we can. Don't let the guilt bring you down. Take it, roll it in a ball, and throw it away. You are a loving, caring Mom. Enjoy your Sunday. Give Beth a hug for me.