“Why, when we know what is good for young children, do we persist in miss-educating them, in putting them at risk for no purpose? The short answer is that the movement toward academic training of the young is not about education. It is about parents anxious to give their children an edge in what they regard as an increasingly competitive and global economy. It is about the simplistic notion that giving disadvantaged young children academic training will provide them with the skills and motivation to continue their education and break the cycle of poverty. It is about politicians who push accountability, standards, and testing in order to win votes as much as or more than to improve the schools.

The deployment of unsupported, potentially harmful pedagogies is particularly pernicious at the early-childhood level. It is during the early years, ages four to seven, when children’s basic attitudes toward themselves as students and toward learning and school are established. Children who come through this period feeling good about themselves, who enjoy learning and who like school, will have a lasting appetite for the acquisition of skills and knowledge. Children whose academic self-esteem is all but destroyed during these formative years, who develop an antipathy toward learning, and a dislike of school, will never fully realize their latent abilities and talents.

If we want all of our children to be the best that they can be, we must recognize that education is about them, not us. If we do what is best for children, we will give them and their parents the developmentally appropriate, high-quality, affordable, and accessible early-childhood education they both need and deserve.” –2001 David Elkind

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Corrective Therapy

This morning, a friend of mine with an autistic child linked to this blog article. I read the article and then browsed the blog a while. I’m not here to say what’s true or not about Autism therapies, as I do not have any experience with them, but I see the parallels between PDDs and Speech Delay/Disorder therapy.

” …When I hear people say that an autistic child has to stop echolalia because it socially isolates the child, it sounds like we value the other children’s opinions more than we value the autistic child’s.  If a child’s skin color socially isolated them, we wouldn’t try to change it.  How is being autistic different?” –Mama be Good

I’m interested in reading more about how therapies might damage a child’s self-esteem. As a mom with a 5 year old receiving speech services in a public school setting, it’s important for me to explore all  of the risks and benefits, not to just see the “progress” and accept it as a success. How do we really measure the success of a child, anyway? Their ability to be less different from others? How awful!

My personal barometer for gauging the success of my kids is their happiness, something that is affected directly by how often they might be subject to ridicule. Some people see correcting our children’s differences as an answer to that issue, others choose to build their own child’s self-esteem as protection. What do we do for a child who is different and is possibly outwardly “corrected” by therapy but has had the experience of ridicule and disapproval from adults as a child for behaving differently? This is such an important topic for me.

As we move quickly toward Kindergarten for our middle child and Junior High for our oldest, our family has all of these thoughts on the table, our opinions on how to proceed changing weekly. I want my children to have positive experiences that bolster their esteem, I want to protect them from harm done by other children and also the adults who seek only to help them. I know it’s not coming from a place of mal-intent to offer services to children with learning differences, which makes it all the more confusing navigate.

In short, correction=greater chance of school/social success, at least outwardly. Acceptance= greater chance of feeling secure and unconditionally loved?

These are the thoughts on my mind today, and most days!

Morro Bay, CA Jan 2, 2013

I was fully intending to abandon this space completely and pick up over at Tumblr, I even made a few posts there, but I was contacted by a mom who was wondering how Elias was doing with regard to speech. Two days later, a mom on a facebook group for Late Talkers made a post about how people start blogs when their kids aren’t talking but abandon the blog and discontinue updating it. I know how that feels, searching in desperation for some comforting words from someone in a similar situation. So! I am semi-back, I will use this to chat about Elias and his progress at very least, as well as other relevant topics.

For just a general update/background since my entries are now mostly private (I’ll unearth some with time, life is crazy hectic currently!), Elias was a late talker with possible Mixed Expressive and Receptive Delay, possible Apraxia, possible Dyspraxia…etc. No official diagnosis that has stuck, he is a mystery to all professionals who have met him, really. He did not say words until after 3 but at 5 he is rapidly catching up (never stops talking, actually) in most ways. His prognosis as of last month was that he will just normalize within the next year or two with regard to articulation error. His receptive language has resolved now as well! It’s been harrowing, so if you’re reading this because you are searching for comfort because your toddler isn’t talking, please feel free to leave a comment with any question I can address. We did a million different professional evaluations (private, public, school district, therapists, neurologist, MRI, occupational, hearing, oral-motor…) and I’d love to share anything that might be helpful.

Elias is a late bloomer, delayed in a non-alarming (but at times highly annoying!) way. He is a silly, funny, smart kid who acts younger than his age. In a time where the race is on to have your kids in serious academics by like 5 years old, it’s been a wild ride to find serenity with this reality. My kid is going to be childlike, wild, a little longer than some. That is officially okay with me at this point, but it took a while. What this means in daily life is that he whines more than your average 5 year old, can’t do some “basic” 5 year old things with ease like buttons or tying his shoes. He gets crazy and jumps around in your face more than he has a conversation about his day, but the conversations are multiplying with each day now. I ask him “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” every day, and it seems like I get a bit more information each time. Maybe an extra word or more descriptors, or feelings. I am enjoying this!

Something that people often ask is how he is doing socially, especially therapists. He was always very social, and now he is communicating socially in an age appropriate way. He loves to run up to kids and ask, “Hey, what’s your name!” when we go to the park. He plays beautifully with other kids, it’s the direction of adults that ruffles his feathers! Well, he can get a bit Alpha with other boys… ha

Another question that comes up is if my other kids are late talkers. No! My first was an average-early talker and is hyper-literate and my 1 year old has an insane vocabulary already. This was not hereditary in our case, I don’t think. His dad and I were both early talkers too!

So, recap; normally developing child does not talk until after 3 years of age. By 5, you would probably never notice. My biggest take-away from this experience is that while you MUST explore all medical issues, especially hearing and physical exams for your own peace of mind and the best early assistance for your child, almost all parents I’ve talked to about their late talker will tell you that they wish they could turn back the clock and get those 2 years of worry back. Enjoy your child. Best wishes!

Moving on…

NaNoWriMo is almost over and I’ve got about 4,000 words left until I have met my goal to write a novel in the month of November. It has been a very enlightening experience, testing me in ways I could not have anticipated. I will definitely spend a lot more time on editing than I did on writing, possibly even re-writing large chunks of it, but, I wrote a book. That is pretty exciting for me, as a serial excuse-making-procrastinating-mom-to-2-kids-and-a-baby.  If I can do it, ANYONE can, and I mean that with great sincerity! You probably have a novel in your head, just write it.

And with that, I depart this space a final time. I am still going to blog, I’m just moving to a different
address. I’ll let you know where via facebook, twitter, or email, once I get it up and running.

Until then! xo

A Baby!

I think we finally have a name for this little guy but I need to confer with Ryan on the order of the first and middle name before I announce it.  He is 9.2lbs and very strong. Owen is my serious guy, Elias is my silly guy, this might be my tough guy. We’ll see!

Ryan took the above photo yesterday morning and I haven’t really taken any photos yet but I did edit the birth photos. I’m afraid they might be a little too explicit for posting here, unfortunately. I’ll get to work on some suitable portraits in the next couple days when I’m feel a bit more…vertical.

For someone who gave birth yesterday, I feel pretty amazing. My only true complaint is that my body feels as it should, exhausted. I was shaking from adrenaline and the pushing part of the birth was so intense that my muscles feel tired. There is no comparing how I feel now to how I felt after my two hospital births, that’s for sure. This is the first time I didn’t tear and require stitches or bleed so badly that I was dizzy and unable to stand without assistance. This morning I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a bowl of cereal and sat on the couch and ate it like a normal person. So different!

I am positive that I won’t have enough time to write a really poetic or entertaining version of the birth story for quite some time but I want to get the details down before it’s all very fuzzy. Here’s the best I can do right now:

Something I don’t want to skim over is that I had a baby come out of my body at 42 weeks and 1 day and he is healthy and shows no signs of postmaturity. Since my other two babies were both hospital inductions for postdates,  it was really scary to me to let the pregnancy go on so long, and I did end up having a non-stress test and ultrasound to check out my placental grade. The perinatologist told me that the baby looked great and my midwife reassured me that I would not end up in the hospital again for induction but I let the worst case scenario play out in my head (and discussed it with Ryan) to take the fear out of it a bit. We talked about how it would be fine in the end, and I think that might have been a necessary possible reality for me to face before I could really let go of my fear of induction and let my body take over for my mind. As a society we are so focused on timelines, especially in pregnancy and birth, it’s hard to let go of the unrealistic expectation that every woman gestates the same amount of time and just give ourselves over to the natural process of our unique bodies and pregnancies.  I am so thankful that with this pregnancy and birth I was able to validate what I always felt was true, my body can birth a baby on it’s own. In my experience an induction, epidural, and the general treatment in a hospital birth is much more physically and mentally harmful than the peaceful experience of letting my body gestate, labor, and give birth on it’s own at home. Scared of labor? Only if it comes from an IV drip line!

Okay, so October 8th at 9:30, with no signs of labor approaching, I listened to some meditation music and thought about having the baby. By 9:45 I was having 1 minute long contractions at 3-4 minute intervals. I emailed Laurie and Jessica for a “heads up” and then when the contractions seemed to be getting stronger called Laurie to make sure she got the email. She offered to come over and check me for progress. I was dilated to 5cm and full effaced, baby was way down and engaged, so she stayed put and called Jessica to come over as well.

I labored with Laurie and Ryan in the bedroom for an hour or so and then got in the birthing pool for a while. Contractions felt easier in there and I got nervous about slowing things down too much, I felt like I wanted labor to be fast and difficult rather than longer and more tolerable in intensity, mostly because I was tired already. I got out of the tub and labored in the bedroom again, laying on my side on the bed with Ryan applying hip pressure. My water broke on the second contraction I had in that position. My water breaking felt like a relief of pressure, and I felt the baby moving way down. Back to the birth ball again,  this time rolling my hips back and forth pretty vigorously. I knew I was definitely in transition, contractions were MUCH more intense and came with almost no break between them. I said out loud “Okay, this is transition, how much longer?” ha!  Leaked more water with each contraction and felt the baby’s head descend for pushing. I asked my midwives when I would know to start pushing and when they said “When you feel like it” I was kinda skeptical but they were definitely right, there was no mistaking when that time came.

I started to feel a lot of pressure all of a sudden and wanted to move to all fours, using the bed to support my upper half. Ryan sat facing me and I needed to hand squeeze through this part. The involuntary pushing was just so unlike anything else. I think I said something about not being able to do it, or not wanting to do it anymore and Ryan said “You’re doing it!” this didn’t go on long at all, just a few contraction before he crowned.

I told Ryan “he’s coming…” (which later seems hilariously ominous in tone) and his head came in the next contraction along with the intense and burning “ring of fire.”  Yow. Pushing was totally weird and I feel as if I did not participate in it at all, my body just did it all on it’s own. Just a couple contractions and he was born completely and was in my arms and nursing! He was so super pink right away and was alert and crying loudly. The brothers both woke up right then and came in to see him. Thankfully they slept peacefully through the whole labor and birth, it couldn’t have gone any more ideally.

Jessica took his stats (9.2oz, 20/21 inches?) and his apgar was 9/10. I had no tearing at all, just an abrasion and bruise. They scored him as “41 weeks gestation” because he didn’t have any signs of postmaturity. His head is impossibly perfect and round, I have no idea how that came out of my body in such good shape! I lost a below average amount of blood, which so cool because it was a fear of mine that I would lose a lot and be anemic after the birth after all my hard work to bring those levels up.

Laurie and Jessica started some laundry and left us around 2:30 am. Ryan, Elias, the baby and I all hunkered down in the bedroom and Owen was already back to sleep in his bed by then. Right as the boys fell asleep a crazy storm picked up and it rained for hours and hours, breaking our year long drought spell. I opened the curtains and enjoyed the fresh rain air and listened to everyone sleep. The baby was tucked into my side and I couldn’t dream of moving him so I just listened to the storm and felt blissful for a few hours which was a different kind of rejuvenating.

Our first day was hazy and dreamlike because of the lack of sleep paired with the ability to look the baby in the face instead of  him being more…abstract. Owen is jazzed, he keeps saying “I can’t believe you had him in the middle of the night. That must be rare.” Elias is acting like a total spazoid and I’m not really sure if he was exactly like this two days ago but it wasn’t as obvious because I had adequate sleep or if he’s reacting in a typical toddler way to something totally mind-blowing. Speaking of mind blowing, the night the baby was born Elias told Ryan “It’s a baby brother!” which is the first time he’s acknowledged what we’ve been telling him for 9 months, that he was going to have a baby brother! ha

Final score, me and 4 dudes. I’m out-numbered for life!