Three years ago, this boy made me a mom.
He made this man a daddy.
And over the past three years, he’s made us the luckiest parents alive.
Happy Birthday to my sweet Ronan. You bring smiles to every day. I love you!
No, YOU didn’t write a post about Halloween until 16 days after the actual event.
So, whatever. We had costumes that were passed on from friends. Ronan had the choice of elephant and Buzz Lightyear. Ruby was going to be either a Ladybug or a unicorn.
Fastforward to moment of dressing. I had decided on Ladybug for Ruby, complete with black tights and black dress shoes. Ronan had picked Elephant. When it came time for him to step into the costume, he suddenly refused. Instead, he picked up the “BUG!!” costume set out for Ruby, and tried to pull it on over his head. What would have fit Ruby like a full body costume fit perfectly like a shirt for him… and he was enthralled with the antenna. Add one pair of black striped “bug” pajama pants, and you have yourself a little boy Ladybug.
All gender issues aside, he loved his costume. And we had a ton of fun. Ronan’s speech therapist Emily came with us. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of trick or treating, but Brock and Emily kept assuring me that it would be great…. it really was great. Ronan got the hang of “Ti-o-tee!” amazingly fast, and was so overjoyed to say hello to people giving him candy. We spent an hour walking to houses, laughing, and enjoying the evening. Only ONE person thought Ronan was a little girl!
When we got home, Ronan walked very seriously to the front door and asked for “More ti-o-tee pees.” I mean really, who wouldn’t want halloween to happen more than one night a year?
Ronan had a follow-up evaluation yesterday. It has been 6 months since his first evaluation, and the county department wanted to find out if we’d been seeing progress with his speech therapy.
Ronan gets therapy twice a week, which is relatively unheard of, and what they really wanted was to find a reason to bring him down to one session a week.
Ronan had his first evaluation in April of this year. He was 26 months old. He had delays across the board, although his speech was definitely the most affected. At 26 months old, Ronan’s evaluation looked like this:
Gross Motor Skills: 20 months
Fine Motor Skills : 20 months
Self Help Ability: 20 months
Social/Emotional Skills: 24 months
Speech/Communication: 12 months
As you can see, Ronan was more than a year behind in verbal communication. He has been receiving speech therapy for nearly six months now, with a one month break in services because we moved to a different county.
Yesterday, at 33 months old, his evaluation looked like this:
Gross Motor Skills: 30 months
Fine Motor Skills: Age appropriate (33 months)
Self Help Ability: 30 months
Social/Emotional Skills: 30 months
Speech/Communication: 24 months
The evaluator, when she was giving us this information, seemed very guarded. She seemed to feel like she was telling us awful news. And yes, it is sort of awful to hear that your child has such a broad array of delays.
However… we were thrilled. Ronan went from an 18 month speech deficit to a 12 month deficit in 6 months? He closed the gap in his delay by 6 whole months. Sure, he hasn’t caught up yet. But catching up isn’t what we expect; it’s not the way apraxia works. What we’ve seen is HUGE progress in a short period of time.
We know that this is going to take a long time. We know that we have a very long road ahead of us in all areas. But it feels AMAZING to see how far he has come in such a short time, thanks to Miss Emily, our incredible speech therapist, and the ways she’s helped us teach Ronan to grow.
It’s going to be hard work. But he is so worth it. And we are so, so lucky.
Please excuse any and all errors in this post. It’s late, I’m tired…and I’m not proofreading before bed. Boom.
I had been thinking for the past few weeks that it would be really great to take Ronan to the YMCA pool. He loves to swim, and since it’s gotten colder, we haven’t been getting in the water. (Who am I kidding? We have barely swam despite living at the lake in MONTHS.)
Anyhow. I called the Y and found out the first 3 swims at the pool are free. I decided to pack up the kids and go while Brock stayed home. Just as we were about to leave, Ruby started fussing and rubbing her eyes; instead of taking her, I left her with Brock who put her down for a nap.
Ronan and I got to the pool and changed into our suits. He was very excited and kept saying, “Poo! Poo!” (Yeah, he meant pool.) We swam around for a while when I realized that I had left our towels in the car. It kind of put a damper on my level of fun – all I could think about was how cold we were going to be. I started trying to stay mostly out of the water because I had nothing to dry off with. Ronan had a life jacket on and is a very confident swimmer, so I let him float around the pool playing.
I was standing in the near side of the shallow pool, and Ronan was about 5 feet away from me. He was floating on his back and swimming very well. He turned and kicked his way to the far side of the pool where he started trying to climb out. One of the lifeguards went over and pulled him out of the pool, took his hand, and walked him around to me. I laughed and said, “Thanks.” He looked pissed and said, “When he’s wearing a lifejacket, he has to be within arms reach.”
“Oh. Sorry,” I replied.
I took his hand and lead him out of the pool feeling like a terrible parent, even though it was quite clear that Ronan was a very strong swimmer and had no trouble turning from front to back, and didn’t get upset when he submerged. We walked into the changing room and started getting dressed. I stripped Ronan quickly, dried him off with my sweater, and put on his underwear and pants. He wasn’t dry enough to put a shirt on yet, so I turned and started pulling my pants on. I heard his footsteps walk away and watched him as he walked into one of the bathroom stalls. I reached down to put on my bra, and heard the door to the pool open. Since Ronan was in the bathroom stall, I waited to hear someone enter the locker room.
I waited about 3 seconds before I thought, “Maybe Ronan ran out there.” He wasn’t in the bathroom stall as I walked by. I went out on to the pool deck and didn’t see him anywhere. I turned and went back into the dressing room and yelled his name. No answer. Back out to the pool deck where I notice his little head barely above water half way to the deep end, and VERY much over his height. He was holding on to the wall and pulling himself deeper and deeper.
As I ran towards him, I saw the lifeguards on the opposite side of the pool, pointing at him and yelling at him to stop, get out.
When I reached him, he looked up at me, smiled, and let go of the wall. I grabbed his hand just as the top of his head sank below the water. I yanked him out of the pool and yelled, “ARE YOU SERIOUS, RONAN?”
I made him walk to the car in his soaking wet clothes. I had no towel, no extra change of clothes, and nothing to put on him. He kept saying, “Cold. Co-co-co-cold!” to which I replied, “Yeah, I bet you wish you hadn’t jumped in the water with your clothes on, huh?”
When we got in the car, I wrapped him in the towel I had forgotten, buckled him into his car seat and began driving home. It was dead silent. No radio, no talking, no little boy babble from the back seat.
Finally, I said, very quietly, “Ronan… you could have drowned. You could have died!… You could have gotten very, very hurt,” I was trying to find something to say to a two year old in a manner that he would understand.
A very quiet, very hesitant, “…kay,” made its way up from the back.
“Mama isn’t mad at you, Ronan. Mama was very, very scared. Mama yelled because she was scared.”
“You can’t jump in the pool, buddy. You can’t do that. You just can’t.” At this point, I was crying. My adrenaline had started to wear off, and I was more upset than I realized.
“…sah-ee baba.” (Sorry, mama.)
All in the same moment, I felt like a terrible mother, and like everyone at the pool must be talking about us, and lucky that things didn’t turn out worse, and angry that the lifeguards had let him get so far into the pool, and like the luckiest mom in the world that I have such a sweet, serious, loving little boy.
Wow. How to dive into a topic like this one.
Some of you, or maybe many of you, know that we have taken Ronan wheat/gluten and dairy free.
TONS of you ask “Why?”
That’s a hard question to give a definitive answer to.
Ronan is a smart, sweet boy. He is loving, and energetic and enthusiastic. But sometimes, he’s terribly terrible. He hits, and pushes and throws. He will look you straight in the eye in the midst of doing something he KNOWS he shouldn’t, and then toss you a “What’re you gonna do about it?” look. It’s easy to chalk this stuff up to normal ‘terrible twos’… but it’s even easier to question if this is how things should be.
So instead of assuming that this was ‘normal’ for our child, we challenged it.
My sweet friend Stephany told me about gluten free, and the effect it can have on behavior and development. She described examples for me, and the success other parents have had. Because we were already facing therapy for Ronan and his speech delay, we decided that it might not be a bad idea to take him gluten and casein free – to give him the best chance of succeeding in all of our endeavors.
What does gluten have to do with it, you ask?
I honestly don’t really know. It was kind of a leap of faith. Something to do with intolerance, and overloading the gut, and lactic acid? If you google “Can gluten affect my child’s behavior?” you will get THOUSANDS of hits saying exactly that. I’m sure there is a ton of science out there. I’m sure there are testimonials. The only one I need is mine.
Ronan has been gluten free for several weeks. We went dairy free too, as many intolerances go hand in hand. We nearly imperceptibly noticed that Ronan became quieter, calmer, more patient. His yelling and screeching stopped. He began asking politely for things, unprompted. His speech and vocabulary has improved by light-years. His independent play has become less about crashing and throwing, more about movement and learning. He likes to sit and look at books, instead of tearing them. He likes to SIT. We enjoyed the ‘new’ Ronan without making a big deal about it, but continued to stay GFCF.
Then, on Sunday, we went to a birthday party. And this momma didn’t plan ahead – birthday cakes have gluten. AND dairy. And I didn’t bring an acceptable alternative. We couldn’t tell him no.
So he had cake.
I wish I could accurately describe to you the transformation we saw in our boy. It was IMMEDIATE. It wasn’t a sugar high, and it wasn’t excitement. It was like a full on caffeine, crack, whacked out demon had taken him over. For three days now, Ronan has been a screeching, yelling, hitting, tantrum throwing angry little person. The contrast is impossible to ignore. The farther out we get from cake day, the better, more level he becomes.
So we will remain gluten and dairy free for an indefinite amount of time.
And I can’t wait to get my quiet, sweet, patient little boy back.
I have been a terrible blogger.
So much has been going on in our lives that I haven’t blogged about, I feel like beginning again is like starting to read a book in the middle – you have no idea what happened previously.
But instead of catching you all up, I’m just going to dive in with NOW.
Yesterday, Ronan had a developmental evaluation. We scheduled it because we had concerns about his speech, but the evaluation covered all areas of his development – gross motor, fine motor, emotional/social, problem solving, self-care and speech. The evaluation team was here for about 2 hours, and we watched as they interacted with Ronan at a 2 year old level. They would pull out a puzzle or activity that they wanted him to try, and begin playing with it – instead of telling him “Come here and do this puzzle!”, he would see them playing and want to play too. They did shapes, blocks, picture books, kicked a ball, ran up and down the halls, played with a doll, a puppy… all sorts of neat activities. Ronan was excited every time they pulled out something new, constantly exclaiming “Oooh! Whasssat?!” and “Oh, WOOOOOOOOW!”
When the evaluation was over, they gave us the results immediately. In all areas of his development, Ronan is on track or ahead – he ranged from 24-30 months in every category except speech. Obviously we expected there to be a delay, as we were the ones who requested the evaluation, but it was kind of shocking to hear exactly how far behind he is. His communication skills are in the 12-15 month range.
So what does this mean? Ronan will be in speech therapy. There are a lot of unanswered questions right now, but the therapist that did the evaluation said she suspects Ronan has something call Childhood Apraxia of Speech. That means that he doesn’t have a normal speech delay, one in which he would eventually catch up even if he had no help, but instead has an actual speech ‘problem’. The bare bones of it is that his brain has the ability to speak, and his mouth has the capability of speaking, but the connection between the two isn’t there. With no help, and no therapy, he would likely not progress beyond the speech level he has right now.
It’s overwhelming, and emotional. It is difficult being told that there is something wrong with your child, and imagining the road ahead to normalcy. I am trying to keep a positive outlook and a little perspective – he has difficulty talking. There are people who are going through much worse. Yes, it will take a long time to help him get to where he should be naturally, but we have the ability to help him. We will work with him. We will MAKE SURE he gets the help he needs in order to have the best chance possible.
There are a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t know when we will start the therapy. We wont know when or if he will ever actually be given a diagnosis of Apraxia of Speech. We don’t know what it will take in order for him to NOT get that diagnosis.
We have already been given a lot of tips and advice to help him, and have already seen a huge improvement in his attempts at communication. Today, in the two hours he’s been awake, he’s already said cheese, apple, watermelon, good… I have the feeling things are going to just get better and better.
I’m going to try to update more often. It’s frustrating for me not to get things out. Miss Ruby Kate has been seeing a chiropractor for her car-seat screaming, and we’ve seen some big changes. She now poops every day(!) and sleeps on car rides. Spine manipulation – who knew, right?
I have been taking lots and sharing few.
Also, I got a new lens for my camera. I have a few pictures from before I started using my 50mm f/1.8 (which I LOVE) and a few from after.
First, a terrible picture of Ruby… but an amazing hand-knit sweater from my Grandma Fran. Simply Amazing.
Chillin’. Sometimes, when Ruby is fussy, she does really well if you just lay her down… she wants a little alone time.
This is my best attempt at a brother-sister shot so far. Not working out so well.
I think she’s gonna be a pretty blue-eyes like her big brother.
Pictures from here on out are with my new lens!
The focus is wrong, but I love the picture anyways! Ronan’s favorite hang-out.
Playin’ wild with Dad!
I love to watch them. Oh so very much.
Sweet Ruby face!
And even though I just took this picture a few minutes ago, it’s my new favorite.
I still have a lot to learn – about photography, lighting, my new lens… but I’m having a lot of fun. And catching some great memories while I’m at it.
Several weekends ago, friends of mine threw a second birthday party for Ronan.
I can’t help but want to share how incredibly grateful I am, not only to the friends that organized the party but also the friends that came to celebrate. I cannot imagine what I would have done, were I required to put on a birthday party myself with an almost two-week old, but the most likely outcome is that there wouldn’t have been one.
I didn’t want this post to get wordy… I really just wanted to share a few pictures from the day. I didn’t take enough, and I hate always feeling that in hindsight.
Anyways. Without further ado.
Uncle Brady holding his niece for the first time.
Violet helped Ronan until he figured out the whole “present opening” thing. She was a pro!
Then he got the hang of it.
Until someone got him the WORLD’S BEST CAR! (Aunt Amanda and Uncle Josh!) Suddenly, he wasn’t interested in any other presents.
Ronan and Violet climbed into the tent together… there were many chuckles about appropriate behavior.
Cake!! That green car came on top of the cake between the candles, and Ronan was trying to put it back. Both hands are reaching to attempt to stop him from burning himself.
Aunt Amanda helped Ronan blow out his candles.
We realized we forgot to sing “Happy Birthday” and so started while he was eating. He REALLY enjoyed everyone looking at him and singing, and held his hand out for more.
I realize how late this post is, and I apologize. I already have guilt over not making a big to-do over his second birthday as I probably should have, but I’m going to forgive myself just this once. And I’ll say it, because it’s true… I can’t believe my baby boy is two.