Friday, January 1, 2010

Love Speaks

Happy New Year everyone! We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

There is an old song by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band we Coloradans like to sing as our anthem this time of year. The chorus goes, "The closest thing the heaven on this planet anywhere is a quiet Christmas morning in the Colorado snow." And that exactly sums up our holiday. It was very calm, quiet and relaxing. Other then spending the first night at the hospital (pneumonia, of course) I can't even remember what we've done this past week, and that my friends, is a very very good thing.

And because life is too short not to watch little tikes waking up on Christmas morning....

If you would like to see more pics, click here

Now it's time for me to get all sappy and reflective (I'm due for one of those posts, don't you think?)

I digress...

If I had to pick THE highlight of Faith's year it wouldn't include her walking, or staying out of the hospital long-term. However monumental those accomplishments may be, her biggest victory was finding her voice. No, not audibly of course, she's still as silent as Ariel (The Little Mermaid), but she (or perhaps, once again it was US) has learned that the capacity of communication reaches beyond our expected norms.

This sounds like a give-in, but at this time last year it was something we were very concerned about. From the time we knew Faith would not be able to verbally communicate we began teaching her sign. Week after week we practiced the simplest signs with her. Many therapists shook their heads in frustration when at two years old, Faith was not taking to any signs. Thus began an evaluation at Children's where she was diagnosed with extreme communication delays. They recommended her for augmentative therapy, and ordered a communication device. We began talking her to Children's for the therapy (this was on top of her receiving speech therapy and occupational therapy, each twice a week).

Faith's inability to communicate was very frustrating for her. She was at the age where she wanted to tell us things but did not have any means to do so. The result was a lot of head banging and a lot of tantrums.

It wasn't until the following summer we learned that Faith was talking, we just didn't understand her language.

When Faith was hospitalized last June, we noticed that she was rubbing her face frequently. Did she have a rash? Was her teeth bothering her? We soon realized that when she did it she was happy. Then we discovered a pattern...every time Brian or myself would enter the room, she'd rub her face. Then it occurred to us- she's trying to say mommy and daddy! The actual sign for "mom" is signed at the chin, and dad is at the forehead. While she used the same motion for "dad" and "mom" we were just thrilled that she was talking.

A few weeks later we were reading, "Guess How Much I Love You." I told her how I loved her, and asked her if she could say "I love you." Her response was patting her chin like she does when she signs, "mommy." I took the gesture for what it was, and decided that one day I would hear those precious words, "I love you" from my daughter.

Yes, I was too thick headed to realize that she had been saying them long before I understood them. You see, every time we would tell Faith that we loved her, she would sign "dad" and "mom." Finally we realized that for Faith, the words "I love you" are synonymous with our names. Mommy and daddy are love. I don't think there is a spoken word in the English language that could have meant more to me then knowing what my daughter's interpretation of love was.

I no longer long for the day when I will those three words from Faith lips, because she tells me with her heart and that speaks volumes.

Seven months later Faith knows about twenty signs and uses about five of them on a day to day basis. While they are far from ASL, she has created her own language and uses it as a means to communicate. The use of her communication device has been slow, but that's more on our part than hers. The fact is, she is talking. And even more importantly, we are finally listening.

Jen & CO.