Anna- what a character! I am waiting in the waiting room of the physical therapy department with a room full of people. In the distance, I see her running towards me full speed and with the loudest, clearest voice possible, “Mama, I pooed! Mama, I pooed. ” I hear the snickering of the people in the room as I reply with a bit of embarrassment, “I’m glad you are speaking so well, but we really don’t need to announce that!” It was a mixed feeling of being happy that she could actually pronounce the “oo” so well- which is a sound that we worked so hard on while using TalkTools. The repeated use of various tools and methods to help her pucker her mouth to make the “oo’s” had paid off. There was a sense of joy that I felt that people understood her.
There is, of course, a deeper sense of joy when her feelings towards me are expressed through her speech. I was on the way to her speech therapy appointment one day and felt extreme frustration as I was running late. Ever have those days where you feel like every light on you turns red? Anna, sensing my frustration, says to me in her sweetest voice, “What happened?”. I tell her I’m a bit frustrated. To this, she responds, “Come here, I give you hugs. I give you hugs, make you feel better.” I did not have to turn around to look at her and here I was having a conversation with my daughter in the car! At the instance, with her words of comfort, my frustrations melted away. “Anna, your hugs do make me feel all better, and I would hug you if I wasn’t driving.”
Now, despite all of this, I don’t want to paint an unrealistic picture. For example, on the way back from speech therapy, Anna was repeatedly uttering a word. I ask her several times to say it, and I was still unable to understand her. I ask her is it a food, is it something we do, what is it? Even though she did not express frustration about not being understood, eventually, she resorted to a small sigh, and said, “never mind.” Children and adults with Down Syndrome who are not understood may become socially isolated. This kind of situation was a stark reminder of how her difficulties still exists and is the motivation and the reason why I still get up early in the morning to do her talk tools on nearly a daily basis. I look forward to continually sharing her progress.