Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Cure for Stuttering?

So we are on day 16 of no biting (although the weekend brought a few close calls, which really could have broken her track record, but I am learning to look at each situation now that she doesn't do it anymore, and see what is triggering it) so I will not count the little tantrums over the weekend. I can't even believe we've made it this far. But there has been another development in this beautiful, unique girl of ours that has also been a struggle, and that is stuttering.

Out of nowhere, around the beginning of this year, I want to say, she began stuttering. A lot. She would stutter so much that she would even tantrum over not being able to get her words out. It has been very challenging for the entire family. It has tested my patience to no end. It literally wears Julianna out, just to be able to speak. We have talked to her speech therapist at school, and she's noticed it, and they are working on it. I even thought about getting her more speech outside of school through medical insurance, but knew with everything else she's involved in, it just wouldn't be practical. So we've done the best we can as a family to help her speak better. We've even been praying about it a lot lately.

Last week, at her activity days class for church (all the 8-11 year old girls meet for one hour to work on goals) they were doing some family history. In the beginning of this little booklet they were filling out, there was a space for Julianna to write about herself. The question was: What do I want people to know about me? Julianna's answer: My family wants me to speak well. I really couldn't believe this was what she chose to write. Have we really been coming down on her that hard about it? I didn't think we were. So why was this the first thing that came to her mind? It made me really wonder. I mean, after all, being able to speak well is such an important thing. And this girl likes to talk a LOT. So when she has to use all her energy just to get out a few words, and I am standing there, waiting for her, coaching her, it gets old after a while. It really is not easy. And I feel bad that this is what she chose to write, of all the things she could have written.

A few weeks ago, I miraculously noticed (yes, another miracle coming) that when Julianna would shake both of her hands, she wouldn't stutter when she talked. I really don't know how I noticed it, I just saw her shaking her hands one day, and she wasn't having any trouble speaking at all! How could this be? So I stopped her, and said, "Julianna, did you just notice how you weren't stuttering when you were shaking your hands? Try it again!" She thought it was funny, and tried it. And it worked again. The rest of that day, every time she began to have trouble speaking, I would motion for her to shake her hands, and she would be fine getting the words out. And this has evolved over the past few weeks to her shaking only one hand slightly, and she really won't stutter when she does this.

I have no idea why it works. Maybe the motion of her hands someone sends the right signals to her brain, calming it down and allowing her to think clearly, and then speak clearly. Now that it's pretty much working (she might not stutter, but she does have the ability to stop and really think about what she's going to say instead of stuttering through it) I have to laugh about it. Which is worse, her shaking her hands, or stuttering? Hands down, I'll take the shaking hands.

When things like this happen, I have to think about how crazy my life as a mom is. I could never have imagined it to be this way, not in a million years. The kinds of things I have to work through, and learn, are beyond what most parents ever face. I still wonder why I was chosen to be this amazing girl's mother, but I was, and I feel blessed. Shake that stuttering away, Julianna! Whatever works.

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