Drug Abuse Resistance Education.
A program offered to all grade 6 students in the Grand Erie board, presented over a 12 week course, taught by a specially trained police officer, and recently completed by Sean. One of the final requirements of the course was to write an essay outlining what they learned over the course.
At the graduation ceremony on Monday night, three students read their essays aloud. Sean was one of them. Sitting in the audience, watching my son standing tall, holding the microphone and reading his essay clearly out loud, I nearly began to cry with pride. Yes, I was a proud mama, that my son was chosen to read his essay to all assembled there, but the pride went so much deeper than just that.
See, when Sean was 3 years old he was identified with a severe neurological disorder affecting his speech, called ‘apraxia of speech’. Essentially the part of his brain responsible for forming the sounds was doing its job, but the neurological pathways from that part of the brain to his mouth were all messed up, and what came out his mouth was not at all what the brain was sending. We began speech therapy immediately, with two half hour sessions every week for over six months. Normally, speech therapy is done in one session per week over an eight week period. Each day I also worked at home with him reviewing what was covered in the sessions.
We had the most amazing speech therapist, Mary Jane, who guided us, helped Sean, and taught me how to work with him to reinforce everything she was doing. Credit has to go to Sean, who at only 3 was able to sit patiently for half hour sessions, working hard, doing everything that was asked of him.
It’s been a long battle. I remember sitting at my computer one day sobbing as I wrote an email to my Usgals moms email list in which I expressed my frustrations, and my fears that I was going to have to teach Sean every word in the English language syllable by painful syllable. Slowly but surely the sessions began to show progress. More sounds developed, more words came clearer, and he kept working hard. He was in speech therapy right up to grade three, when he was finally discharged. He still had a couple sounds that were slightly off, but the therapists felt certain those would come in time. And they have.
I remember in kindergarten, Sean would seldom put his hand up to speak out loud in class, and when he did, it was only for words he knew he could speak clearly. So for me to sit in that gym and watch him confidently reading his essay out loud with absolutely no discernible mis-pronunciations – well, words cannot possibly express how thrilled, deeply moved and proud I was. I heard more than just an essay; I heard the positive results of a lifetime of work, and I was inexpressibly grateful for his progress. Thank you to his teacher for selecting his essay – you have no idea how much you gave me that night.