I hate stuttering; I love my stutterers

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I loved The King’s Speech and strongly recommend it. But if you spent 10 minutes with my 4 year old you would learn that stuttering doesn’t always arise out of some sort of social self-consciousness or timidity that can be overcome by strength of will. People who feel sure of their “right to speak” (as a 4 year old is!) still stutter.

The same is true of Duncan.  He has no self-consciousness about the way he talks.  Thankfully, his stutter is mild and gradually improving  so perhaps he never will.  His stuttering began gradually–a stealthy slide into repetition, until one day I realized that he had been stuttering for months.

Kate’s descent into dysfluency has been sudden. One week last fall it was clear that she had started, this spring week has been a calamity; every day she is less fluent than before. No one understands the cause of stuttering. What has prompted Kate’s speech crisis? We will never know. Who is this thief stealing my children’s ability to speak? When will they get it back? All mysteries.

Often making progress on stuttering takes a lifetime of work and therapy; other times stuttering spontaneously resolves. Girls are less likely to stutter and also more likely to cease stuttering spontaneously. Kate currently attends Talking Time, a special district-sponsored once a week speech preschool for working on articulation (pronunciation).  The teacher informed me this month that they don’t work with fluency (stuttering issues) so if Kate doesn’t improve over the summer, she won’t be eligible to attend in the Fall. I was tempted to say something bitter and defensive like: “Stuttering isn’t contagious!  She won’t contaminate the other children!” But instead I just reminded myself that she has made excellent progress on articulation and probably won’t even need Talking Time’s help in the Fall. (The question of whether our home elementary school’s speech program will be helpful for her stuttering is something I’m less sanguine about.)  Two years ago, I would have thought the level of vocabulary and articulation she manages today almost impossible for her. I wondered whether she was making any progress at all. Two years later I can say that things change. Here’s to change for the better!

My son is a reader–Thank you Warriors!

Yesterday after Duncan got home from school he was quiet for a long, long time. Long periods of quiet from Duncan are unusual and also disturbing (messy and involved craft projects are a possible cause). I went looking and quickly found him. This is what I saw:

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He didn’t move or change expression at all when I photographed him. He was engrossed. Until yesterday, he has been reading mainly Seuss and beginning reader type stuff (and we considered that highly exciting) so this was a stunning development. He read to himself for at least 90 minutes until he had finished the book. May I say I am thankful? I am SO thankful! It has been a long road to reading for this boy. He is only 7, but we are a reading-centric household and although he has loved to be read to since he was tiny, until this year his progress towards reading to himself seemed plodding. Judging from his handwriting, I think the letters may be backwards in his mind–many of them certainly are on his papers!

His school teacher has worked wonders this year. Thank you Melinda!

A lot of credit must also go to the Warriors Series by Erin Hunter. We have spent countless hours reading the Warriors books to him. The one he is reading in the picture is #4. We were halfway through reading it aloud to him before a) our need to work on the tax return and b) his need to know what happened next, coincided to produce the above result. Warriors is about four clans of warrior cats who live in the forest and interact amidst clan warfare, villainy, and environmental disaster. When my mother-in-law gave Amelia the first book in the series many years ago, I was deeply skeptical. It didn’t look good; it didn’t sound good. It sat on the shelf in our house for a long time. But readers always run out of material, so we eventually had to give it a try. I love these books as much as Amelia and Duncan–we all love them. (Though as Pdad says, by book #4, the series becomes predictable). Highly recommended!

In the midst

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Darkness

A while back, I blogged about the TV series White Collar which had quickly become a favorite of mine.  One of the many things I liked about it was that it was a clean show.  Before I wrote that blog, I had seen an interview clip on the internet where the actors discussed how they enjoyed making television that was clean enough that their (older) children could watch with them.  Unfortunately, their enjoyment of making a clean show apparently did not outweigh the other pressures on them.  I am now sad to say that I hope you didn’t start watching this show based on my recommendation.  (Because I don’t have cable, I see it on Hulu several months after the shows initially air on the USA Network).  While I still like the show, and many of the episodes could be described as clean, others are clearly not.  I wish the producers would have left the steamy, unfastening of clothing scenes out or that the actors and actresses could have refused to participate.

We tried watching a British television show, Downton Abbey, on Netflix.  Disappointingly, it was the same story.  While I really liked the show in general, and I did see an episode with nothing bad in it, other episodes had material I simply didn’t care to see.   After 2 1/2 episodes, I knew that I couldn’t pretend that this show was virtuous lovely or of good report.  The other night we went to see the movie The King’s Speech (pg-13) at the theater.  I really enjoyed it; perhaps I will publish a separate review.  Anyway, before the feature started, we had to sit through the previews.  I know that I am prudish but I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of culture would view the sort of things spotlighted in the previews as entertainment.

All this reminded me of one of the scriptures that was in the lesson I prepared for today at Church from Philippians 2:

15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the asons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse bnation, among whom ye cshine as lights in the world;

I don’t always feel like a shining light, and I’m not always completely sure how to be one, but I can recognize the dark.  It is discouraging how much darkness is in our media.  It does make it feel as though one is “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.”  It is a shame that it can get to the point where it feels like perhaps it would be best not to turn on the television or go to the movie theater or wait in the checkout line at the grocery store!  I hate turning my back on books, movies, and TV I otherwise enjoy, but if I don’t, am I taking poison with my cake?