To everything there is a season...
Posted on June 20 2017
So I don’t normally do the writing for Bijou, Kris is our wordsmith, and you will soon know why. <3
Friday was a really special day for me, Kris and our families. My daughter Scout graduated. She is four years old and has attended the Melinda Webb School at the Center for Hearing and Speech in Houston since she was diagnosed with Auditory Neuropathy at 18 months old. For the first 6 months, Scout wore hearing aids and following her second birthday, she received her cochlear implant.
Scout's transformation after the implant has been miraculous. Most of you know Scout from her photos or what we have shared over the last few years as an outgoing, bright and happy little girl. She is so full of life and radiates joy even in still images. However, prior to her implant, she could only say four words and only sometimes. Knock knock. Open. Cookie. Kitty. That was it. After 6 months of intense speech therapy, that was all we could get from her. She was withdrawn. She wouldn’t make eye contact. She was isolated. She wouldn’t interact with new children or adults. She was very delayed in motor skills and regular childhood developmental milestones. She just couldn’t connect. After her implant, it was literally like night and day the changes we all saw. Just a week after her activation, she was starting to talk. I remember going into speech and Amy (Scout’s speech therapist) asked us, “So how's it going?” My response, “Well she’s talking...” kind of blew her away. We got out Scout's favorite book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and she repeated back all the names of the animals and the sounds they make. I can still hear her sweet little voice now. The memory is so vivid. I think I knew then that something special was going on. It was the beginning of something that is awe inspiring to witness. She learned language at such a fast rate we couldn’t keep up. I don't even know sometimes where she picks up the words she knows. She still catches me off-guard when she delivers a new word in perfect context. All along, Scout's gifted ability for language acquisition was lost with her inability to hear or understand what was being said to her. Once that world was opened up to her, she took off and has never looked back. Her speech level is that of an almost 7 year-old and she is in the 98th percentile for vocabulary acquisition, expressive and receptive language. She is all caught up to her peers in every way and she is just so HAPPY. She has literally come alive right before our eyes.
I get a lot of credit for how far she has come, and I promise I am not being humble when I say that I don't deserve it. I give 100% credit to Scout and the Center. Her success and development, her ability, her gift is all due to their hard work. Without the center we would have been lost. What they do for children with hearing loss is astounding. We are so thankful that this place exists and Bijou will continue to champion their efforts and support it. Scout will continue visiting once a month for speech therapy and her mapping and audiology services. We just cannot see ourselves anywhere else. We both have made lifelong friendships there and we are both so grateful.
We cannot wait to see where Scout’s journey takes her. She has been accepted to a very prestigious and challenging school next year and I know she will thrive in a demanding academic environment. She started summer camp this morning and the theme for the week is “Seasons”. How appropriate as we close one chapter and embark on the next one in her journey. I told her this morning as we were walking out of the house and she was so excited, “OH! Yay! Like summer, spring, winter and fall?!” and then she started singing a song she learned at the Center about seasons. "Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. There are seasons four in all. Weather changes, sun and rain and snow, leaves fall down and flowers grow." I just kept the radio off and let her serenade me as we drove to camp. Her voice is just magical for me. As we walked in she was nervous. I haven't seen her that way in some time. This was a new school. This was the first day. A new season. She gave me a tight hug. You could see a little apprehension. “I’ll be here right after work to pick you up okay?”. You can see her get brave. The moment it happens. She’s ready. “Okay mommy see you after work”. She is resolved. She turns around and walks right in where the kids were already running around the gym waiting for their day to start. New teachers. New friends. New faces. And she jumped right in and found her stride along side them. Gone is the little girl that wouldn't look you in the eye and was scared of new people. Scout is fearless and brave and strong. She is a force. There is nothing she cannot do. She will move mountains.