Gia’s First Progress Report

Most who know me, know that I just love a good goal! Whether it’s a half marathon, or completing a beautiful wall collage, I thrive off of accomplishing something. When I learned that goals would be set for Gia’s therapy, and every 13 weeks, reflected in progress reports, I thought, “Great! This is right up my alley!” Boy, was I wrong!

Shortly before I was due to receive Gia’s first progress report, a slight bit of panic set in. The anticipation of what this piece of paper might say, was driving me mad! My head was consumed with anxiety-filled questions, “What are Gia’s goals? Has she met them? What if she hasn’t met them? What does that mean? I know she’s improving, but is it enough?” On one magical afternoon, our SLP, Anna-Alyse emailed me the progress report, and the suspense was finally over. When I spotted it in my inbox, I sat up in my chair like a board was glued from my back to the top of my head. My eyes were drawing in to the screen like a magnet, and I had a severe case of tunnel vision. I admit I was acting a little crazy, like this email had some sort of life-changing information in it. So I took a deep breath, and started to read. Continue reading

Differently Gifted

I was recently paid a long overdue visit, by a very special friend of mine. Now, when I say that Colleen is a special friend, I don’t just mean that she is someone who is important to me, I mean she is truly, a one-of-a-kind, special human-being. Losing her only child in 2007, Colleen has experienced tragedy, that many of us could never, and will never comprehend.  Her sudden loss had became a marker in her existence, dividing her life into 3 categories: before, during, and after her son’s death. I was lucky enough to have known Colleen during each category of her life. I always knew she was special, but I watched her evolve into greatness! Colleen is not super-human, she went through every stage of grief that anyone who suffers loss will experience. Through each inevitable stage of grief, she made choices that would little by little, change the direction of her life. The choices she made, were a reflection of the shift in her priorities, and the shift in her priorities, was a reflection of her loss. Just days after her son, Scott passed, she made a decision to use her son’s legacy, and create a positive impact in her community. To make a very long, and inspiring story short, Colleen is the founder of SCOTT Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides educational programs to inspire our youth towards selfless service. With the help of many other special people, Colleen was able to create something that she knew her son would be proud of. It was an amazing thing to watch! Continue reading

Sensing some sensory

“She’s just quirky.”, “She loves accessorizing!”, “She must be cold.”; this was my repertoire of justifications, every time Gia would come marching out of her room in an entire outfit that would include a jacket, a hat, a scarf, 5 headbands, 3 necklaces, 2 pairs of socks, and even a pair of gloves. It didn’t matter if it was winter or summer, she had this overwhelming desire to cover her body from head to toe. This didn’t happen all the time, but rather in very sudden, and explosive spurts. She would go to various areas of the house, seeking out items to consume her little frame, and it didn’t even have to be clothes; she would sit in a hamper, put a box over her head, or wrap her arm in string. I’ll be honest, it was weird, but it was Gia!  My son, Nick always took life a little more seriously, insisted on doing things perfectly, and generally didn’t see much outside the box. Gia on the other-hand, was my free-spirit, she was confident, independent, and did EVERYTHING outside the box, and I loved this about her! All kids are different, right? Well yes, but as Gia got older, I noticed these “quirky habits” were brinking on the edge of obsession. Other caretakers in Gia’s life began to take notice. The very first daycare she went to, gave her a cute little red basket with toy fruit for Christmas. I think their exact explanation for the gift was, “We know she likes to put baskets on her head!” Continue reading

The Apraxia Angels

Gia’s speech therapist had seen Apraxia in children before, and couldn’t help but notice some of the “typical” signs in Gia. As strong as her feelings were, she regrettably admitted that this was not something she was qualified to diagnose, or even provide therapy for. She explained that this wasn’t your typical speech delay, but that it was a neurological speech disorder, that would require years of intensive “drill” therapy by a specialized therapist. As I held back tears, I asked, “What does this mean for Gia’s future?” With a smile on her face, she replied, “Gia has a bright future!” She felt confident that someday, she will sound just like her peers, and this will all be a thing of the past. In the same breath, she was honest with us, and said this would be a very long road, and our lives will revolve around her treatment. “I’m going to refer you over to a place called The Foundations Developmental House, who specializes in Apraxia”, she said. “They will be able to help Gia”.

My husband and I were quiet on the way home. At that moment, we both needed to process this information on our own. We went to this meeting with very different views about Gia, but left with the same heart-breaking news. I went through a range of emotions on the 15 minute drive home, but as I sat in the passenger seat, staring out the window, I cried silent tears of relief. I finally knew how to help my daughter, my husband and I would finally be on the same page, and I could finally leave the months of denial behind me. Continue reading

Apraxia?! What’s that?

To say that Gia was a surprise, would be an understatement! After needing fertility treatments to have my son, Nicholas, I found myself pregnant AGAIN, when he was three months old. Ready or not, Gia came into our lives just 9 months later. I was terrified at the thought of bringing home a second baby, but Gia made it not so terrifying. She was your typical baby, as long as her tummy was full, and her diaper was changed, she was happy! She slept through the night at 8 weeks-old, smiled like it was her job, and let her brother be the star that he so desperately wanted to be. In the first year of Gia’s life, she met all of the standard milestones on time; she rolled over at 4 months, sat on her own at 6 months, crawled at 9 months, and walked at 12 months. She babbled constantly, but had yet to say a real word by her first birthday. I wasn’t concerned, and neither was our pediatrician.

Gia’s 18-month checkup came, and still no words to speak of, just a lot of gibberish. My son was a late-talker, so I didn’t think much of it. I was looking at a healthy, normal little baby, and I figured that the pediatrician would see that too; I was wrong. She very bluntly said to me, “I’m going to flag her in the computer for Autism, because speech delay can be an early sign.” Two thoughts went through my head: one, “Oh my god, my daughter has Autism!”, and two, “What a B****! My daughter does not have Autism!” From that day, until Gia turned 2 years-old,  I found myself studying everything my daughter did. She would do something that I thought was “weird”, and I would run and google it; It was insane! I felt like my brain had been poisoned with this toxic information that I just wanted to go away. I stopped enjoying this happy, and carefree little girl in front of me, and became consumed with what everything meant. Continue reading