Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jarren's Struggle

So, I'm in this child development class.  This week's assignment was to write an 8-12 page paper about an issue. analyze the issue, and finally, offer suggestions.  I enlisted the help of my social network on Facebook to get some idea juices flowing.  I got some really great suggestions from my friends on things that I could write about.

That night I was hit by an idea fairy.  I started thinking about how when Jarren was in kindergarten and I would ask him how his day was, nine times out of ten he would answer with either a) horrible b) terrible or c) not good.  So I would press him, "what was so bad about it, Jarren?"  He'd tell me the kids just aren't nice to him, they are mean to him, or they don't like him. He didn't have to tell me why he thought the kids weren't nice to him, I knew the reason they didn't really want to talk to him is because, like most people, they had a hard time understanding what he was saying.

Let's rewind a couple years.  I used to tell people one of my hobbies was being Jarren's translator.  He was just hard to understand, but I didn't think anything abnormal was going on.  I just figured he would take a little longer to speak intelligibly than Joey did, but eventually he'd catch up.

Not long before Jarren's fourth birthday, I left home for initial entry training.  It was, by far, the hardest thing I have every done in my life, to kiss my sleeping boys goodbye knowing that I wouldn't see them for ten weeks, for my graduation from Basic Combat Training.  While I was away, Jarren started pre-school.  My cousin, Amber, was his and Joey's nanny and she brought up Jarren possibly needing speech therapy.  So, the speech therapist that was already coming to the preschool weekly for sessions with another kid, ran Jarren through the assessment and determined he needed speech therapy.  By November of his preschool year, I was back home and was able to meet with his speech therapist.  Not a lot of progress was made during his pre-school year of speech therapy, but at least he was familiarized with the routine of speech therapy and I was able to sit in for a lot of the sessions and see how it all went.

In his kindergarten year things got a lot better.  He still showed extreme delays as far as phonetics and articulation go, but he developed a lot of patience.  He stopped getting so frustrated with the task of communicating, it was like he started accepting that he was going to have to repeat himself and rephrase what he was saying, and that was just normal for him.  But listening to him explain to me that kids didn't like him was pretty heartbreaking for me.  How could someone not like him?  He's a little comedian and, for the most part, is really well behaved.

Jarren is a bright kid.  He started reading a little later than Joey did, but a couple months into his kindergarten year he started reading like a mad man.  Now, he is in first grade and they send him into the second grade class when it's time for reading groups :)  But when it comes to his speech, he is still struggling.  His assessments still indicate that he has a pretty severe impediment.  He has also developed a stutter this year, it's not a really bad one (I've heard worse ones), but it's definitely there at times.  However, as far as things go socially, he is doing so much better!  He has friends!  I don't know if it's because he is at a new school or what exactly might be the cause for it, but there has definitely been a huge improvement.

I don't talk about Jarren's speech problems a lot because I don't want him focusing on it too much.  Of course I want him to put a strong effort into overcoming it, but I don't want him to attach his impediment to his identity because I'm hopeful that one day it's not going to be an issue.  Also, I don't want other people focusing on it either.  He is so talented in so many aspects, I just want people to see what I see in him.

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