This is the Future

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Our Journey with Speech Therapy

My son just turned 4 and he has been in speech therapy for almost a year. We realized at around 2 that he wasn’t up to speed in talking, but figured he would catch up soon enough. At 3, we realized he would need extra help. This year’s journey with speech therapy has been a lot of hard work, but seeing the progress my son has made recently has made it all worth it!

The first few months of speech therapy, we mostly just worked on basic sounds and strengthening his core. Part of the reason he needed speech therapy was low muscle tone in his face and core. So we did a lot of mini obstacle courses, rolling, crawling, and playing at parks. It’s amazing how a year ago my son could not stand on one foot and now he’s rock climbing like a boss!

We would see progress here and there, we worked with him at home so much. He goes to speech therapy once a week for a half hour, so most of the work is at home. We get activities and drills that we need to work on during the week. Slowly, surely, he started to break out of his “introverted” shell. For a long while, even until very recently, large group social situations were very difficult for him. He would go off in a corner and get away from all the noise and people. Now he’s the life of the party and runs around and plays with all the other kids. It’s so day and night what he used to be.

We started to understand more of his words, and he began expanding his vocabulary. There would be weeks of limited progress, but we knew he was making improvement. It was hard to see it in the day after day, but our speech therapist said he was doing well. There were only a few weeks where she was disappointed with his progress, but a majority of the last 40 weeks have been finished with positive reviews.

It wasn’t until the past month where his talking has improved so much that his speech therapist was rendered speechless. I don’t think she typically sees a kid improve that fast in just one week. He turned 4, and all of the sudden he was using expressive language and answering “yes” to questions. He still has a ways to go before he’s fully caught up to others his age, but seeing that big improvement has been amazing. He’s a very smart kid, possibly even gifted in visual spatial ability. As a mom, it’s wonderful to see what he’s finally thinking and expressing his needs and wants.

It’s been such a long road. My son used to get so frustrated every day. He couldn’t express what he needed and when we couldn’t guess, he would just burst into tears. He was very drawn in, except in very small groups. He was known as the quiet kid. He’s changed so much. I’m not even sure he’s actually introverted! Last event we went to, there was another kid there a few years older than him. They played together, running around being loud and having so much fun. My kid might actually be extroverted, but he hasn’t been comfortable enough socially to show it! Now he can interact with kids and adults, play games, ask for what he wants, listen and follow directions.

The best thing about his speech therapy is the fact that his speech therapist has never once labeled him. She saw him as a person, not any sort of syndrome he “might” have. Because of this, he wasn’t put into any boxes of what he could or couldn’t do. He has absolutely thrived because there are no limits to what he can do. Like everyone in the entire world, he has quirks. He might grow out of them (I grew out of many of my quirks, but I still have plenty), he might not. But I’m just so happy that he hasn’t been labeled and called something he wasn’t. Early on, for those that didn’t know his abilities, they would think he was impaired. But I knew better. He was reading at age 2.5, writing the alphabet at age 3, and now at age 4, able to do basic arithmetic, spell out loud, and read big words. I am so thankful his speech therapist believed me when I said he could do all these things, because she eventually saw what he could do.

Note: Getting your kid help if they do have a syndrome or mental impairment is very important. I just knew my son didn’t have any cognitive delays, and I’m thankful he’s never been labeled as such. But for those who do have those delays, getting that help and support is very important. I just personally believe kids are labeled too much and too often, which makes it hard for the kids who actually have something to get help.

Now that he’s talking and potty trained (another blog post on that journey, but his speech and potty training have been connected), he has no limits. In a year, maybe less, he may be fully caught up and nothing will hinder him. He’ll continue to advance in his abilities, and show the world that he is a gifted, fun loving, energetic, loud boy.

Twice Exceptional: Challenges and Joys

For those that don’t keep up with the lexicon of teachers, twice exceptional means that a student is both in the gifted program and in the special needs program for a delay. I was one of these students, being both in speech therapy and highly capable (Washington States Gifted Program).  It was challenging as times, especially since my speech therapist thought I had a mental disability and talked down to me. It was very tough, and I later got out of the speech therapy program and worked on my speech at home. Now, at 28, I have a kid in speech therapy.

When first seeking it out speech therapist, I was so worried. I didn’t want my son to deal with a speech therapist that believes all kids in speech therapy have a low IQ. Because my son is incredibly gifted. He’s 3.5 years old, has known his ABCs since before 2, can already read and write, and spell out loud. But he’s also very behind in speech, namely expressive language. Thus, he’s what teachers call twice exceptional.

I believe my son has what’s called Einstein Syndrome (or Late Talking Syndrome) as coined by Thomas Sowell. However, I’m not letting any labels define my kid. We thankfully found a wonderful speech therapist, who immediately recognized there was no cognitive delays in my son. It turns out that his facial muscles and core muscles didn’t develop as quickly causing him to not use his muscles enough to formulate good speech. Feeling relieved, we started speech therapy and have been doing it for 7 months. He’s made amazing progress and we’re so happy that we found a speech therapist that looks at our son as a whole, and not just his speech.

So what are the challenges of a twice exceptional kid? What’s some advice that can calm our fears and enjoy this time?

1. People expect your kid to be good or bad at everything

When people hear “gifted”, they often think that the child or person is gifted at everything. There are very few people that are good in all areas. Most specialize in an area, such as math or music. So when I tell people my son is gifted, and he cannot yet hold a conversation with someone, they give me this incredulous look. Until I show them a video of him spelling words that most kindergarteners don’t know how to spell.

Conversely, when I tell people my son is in speech therapy, many immediately think he has a cognitive delay. Many kids in speech therapy aren’t there because of any mental disability, sometimes they just need an extra boost for whatever reason. Just like my speech therapist from school, some think that if a kid is delayed in one way, they are delayed in many ways.

2. You’ll feel extremely proud and worried at the same time

Some days I wonder if my kid will ever catch up in his speech, especially when kids a year younger then him are having a very complex conversation with me. But then, I see my son doing a 100 piece puzzle on his own, and I just smile. Like any parent, you’ll have victories and defeats every single day.   I know once he’s caught up in speech, this year will feel like a faint memory. But in the throes of it, it’s hard. Especially when people ask my son questions, he doesn’t answer, they look at me and think “what a rude kid!” Of course, I have to calm answer their silent glare “he’s just shy.” I don’t want to go into the whole “he’s in speech therapy, but actually really smart, etc”. For the most part, my son is shy around new people, but it’s especially hard when kids his age try to engage him in conversation. I have to breathe and just tell myself “he’ll get there, one day he’ll be able to talk with other kids”

3. Don’t let labels define your kid.

There are a million labels for a million different syndromes, delays, everything. We can assign labels to our kid, in order that we can find support groups or the proper help, but sometimes we as parents can go too far. If you stick your kid in a label, then you define their limits by what the average kids with that label can or can’t do. I said I believe my kid has Einstein Syndrome. However, I’m not letting that define who he is. What I love about his speech therapist and she is very careful not putting any syndromes or labels on my kid. She may say things like “he’s very sophisticated in visual ability” or “hypnosensitive in taste” but never anything like “oh he has this syndrome or this” because we fully believe he’s going to grow out of this speech delay. Sure, because he’s so visual he has some sensitivities we are working on. But we aren’t assigning a label to it, just working on it and seeing his progress. I was a bit of a crazy kid when I was young, and back then there weren’t so many labels to throw out there. But, I grew out of them (with the help of my parents and prayer!). Sure, I still have some quirks, who doesn’t? But those weird oddities I had were just a thing of my childhood. My kid will be quirky, but I fully believe once he’s caught up on speech, he’ll not even remember he had such a delay.

My kid is only 3.5 years, so I know things will change as he grows older and gets more vocal. I know that not much will hold him back once he gets there. While there are challenges to a twice exceptional kid, there are also numerous joys. I think whether or not your kid is gifted or has any delays, parents have worry, fears, but also incredible victories whenever their kid reaches a milestone. Parenting is hard, and sometimes we need to just make some coffee, sit back, pray, and trust that our hard work will pay off.

 

Transistor: Thoughts after First Playthrough

Transistor keeps tugging at my thoughts and heart strings!  This game is very intense, unlike its predecessor Bastion.  While Bastion was more lighthearted and humorous, Transistor is more dark and mysterious.  The theme, music, narration, and even the battles have hardly any lightness to them.  However, does this make it an inferior game to Bastion?

Gorgeous art through the whole game. Gorgeous art through the whole game.

About halfway through the game I almost didn’t even want to continue on.  The stress it was giving me plus the more difficult battles were steering me away.  However, I’m so pleased that I kept playing!  The last two hours of gameplay were stunning.  You got to battle more interesting enemies, plus get to wield some epic weapon functions.  I loved doing Void() then Cull() to do some serious damage to enemies.  I highly recommend playing through the whole game before making any serious observations about it.  Now I can’t wait to play again on Recursion mode (New Game Plus).  What makes Transistor great?

Can't get enough of the art style. Can’t get enough of the art style.

Theme: The theme is cool!  It’s like Cyberpunk meets Film Noir.  You have this awesome Transistor weapon in which you load Functions as you level up in the game.  At the same time, the main character is Red, who looks like a singer from the 1920s.  I love this unique take on Cyberpunk/Coding theme. While the Narrator (the unnamed man in the Transistor) doesn’t have quite as cool lines as in Bastion, he does lay out the mystery of the game well.  There is much to uncover after all.

Music: Once again, Darren Korb with Ashley Barrett doing the vocals do a stunning job as they did in Bastion. Without the music, this game wouldn’t have been nearly as good.  I even purchased the soundtrack, as I did with Bastion.  Nothing like the haunting vocals of Ashley Barrett as you go through the Processed Cloudbank.

Story: The story is a bit like a murder mystery.  You (Red) and your unnamed friend in the Transistor are trying to uncover what has happened to the Cloudbank and why the Process is attacking you on site.  The story does start to unfold, however, I did feel like I had more questions at the end than I did at the beginning.  I’d say the story is the main weak point of the game, but that may change with more playthroughs.

Combat: At first, I really hated the combat.  I typically don’t like difficult action RPGs, and this was beginning to look like one.  However, once I utilized Jaunt(), I was able to dodge the enemies while my turn based planning sequence charged up.  By the last hour of the game, I was breezing through the combat without too much difficulty.  I think I’ll especially like the Recursion playthrough, with all my strong weapon functions.

I have the sense that Transistor may become one of my favorite games.  I did not expect to like it this much midway through, and didn’t even think I would playthrough a second time.  The last half of the game captured my attention and gave me the confidence to truly enjoy Transistor.  Gamers may not like how quick it is to beat the game, however, given the difficulty and darker theme, the gameplay time felt just about right.  Plus, there’s a New Game Plus, and the challenges in Backdoor to accomplish as well.