Saturday, May 1, 2010

May News

Greetings, Friends! It's hard to believe that it's already May 1st! Happy Spring from sunny Texas!

First of all, I have some exciting news: our May Special is "The Heart of a Mother" for half price! That means that instead of the regular price of $25.00, for the month of May, this one-of-a-kind book will be available for only $12.50!

I am also going to use the month of May to catch up with former contributors to "The Heart of a Mother." I will be letting you read excerpts from their essays and an update on how those children are doing today. I will start with one of my own essays.

My essay, Developmental Delays - Speech and Language, detailed Alex's journey after his second open-heart surgery left him with paralyzed vocal cords and a partially paralyzed diaphragm. I wrote this piece when Alex was only three years old. Here is an excerpt:

. . . Two months after the surgery, Alexander's vocal cords began to work again. It was so odd when I began to hear his first cries. They sounded like a kitten meowing. So tiny, so inhuman. I had anticipated his needs for so long that he hardly had reason to cry, and I was glad. That cry brought back to light all that Alexander had been through and fed my own insecurities and fears about his life. I wanted everything to go back to normal, but that would not happen for quite a while.

My bachelor's degree is in Speech Pathology even though I knew I would someday teach the deaf. Five years after I quit teaching at Texas School for the Deaf in order to stay home and raise my children, I was to see an even greater purpose for all of my training. I never wavered in believing that God had a special plan for me. I prayed for guidance on more than one occasion and did things that I felt led to do by a force greater than myself. It was now many years later that I would come to see the real benefit of my training.

"Honey, we need to talk," I began as I sat down with my husband at our kitchen table one night after the children were in bed. I poured out my worries and concerns about Alexander's speech development. Clearly he understood all we said to him, but he could not make himself understood, and the temper tantrums were occurring more frequently. "He's frustrated because he can't make himself understood," I said to Frank. Frank nodded and told me that he had had the same concerns but trusted me to do what was right. "We're at a crossroads," I said gently. "It's time to make a decision. We're going to have to have him tested by a speech pathologist . . ."

"NO!" Frank erupted. "I'm not going to have him tested," he said as he got up and paced in the kitchen.

My heart ached as I saw my husband so wrought with grief. "Well, I would like to give him three more months before we test him," I continued evenly. "If it's okay with you, I want to try something a little radical. I think it might work. It worked with some of my students in the past."

Frank stopped moving and sat down again. He took my hand and looked into my eyes. "I trust you," he said again. "What do you want to do?"

To read the rest of the story, turn to pages 62-67 in "The Heart of a Mother."


Alexander is now 15 years old and is a dual-credit student at Texas State Technical College (and homeschool high school). He is currently studying for an associate's degree in robotics. Although we spent a long time helping Alexander to recover his voice, it was time well spent.

As an elementary school student, he performed on stage with his brother (and friends) at the Temple Civic Theater. He also read to preschoolers at the Temple Public Library during Story Time. As a middle school student, he was a Director at Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic.

Alexander also had his own robotics club for six years. During those years, his teams competed in regional, state and international competitions. These competitions usually required oral presentations, which Alexander not only performed, but usually wrote or co-wrote with his teammates. As a 9th grader, Alexander participated in a Youth Leadership Program sponsored by a local Toastmasters club.

Alexander prefers writing to public speaking, but he is quite capable of expressing himself and making himself understood. I feel fortunate that I had the training needed to help him recover his voice. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of early speech training for our heart children who experience speech difficulties after surgery. Open-heart surgeries save our children's lives, but it is up to us to ensure that they are able to lead quality lives. Essays like the one I wrote in "The Heart of a Mother" help to explain what you can do to help your heart child if he or she is experiencing difficulty with speech or language development.