Family & Parenting

Worried about your child’s communication abilities; it could be medical.

“Every day, in a 100 small ways, our children ask, ‘Do you hear me? Do you see me? Do I matter?’ Their behavior often reflects our response.”

L.R. Knost

We tried everything.

We primarily sought assistance from experts who worked with children with ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) issues.

Consequently, they recommended that our children have sessions with speech therapists, whose aim was to identify and fix any problem of the delayed development of communication and speech impediments.

Sessions upon session, and after a year of service rendered, we stopped as we didn’t see any dramatic difference.

It became clear that no matter the weekly rounds of exercise worksheets provided by the therapist, it would not be the solution we needed and wanted. 

Unfortunately, we found that the preliminary assessments conducted by the therapists can sometimes be a waste of resources, time and worse, it can cause further delay in finding out the genuine concern with the child in care.

Speech therapy is an expensive luxury, not necessarily monetary but the time invested in diagnosing the right solution for a child struggling with the ability to engage and communicate freely with peers and the world as a whole.

According to Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Children are born ready, able and eager to learn. They actively reach out to interact with other people and in the world around them. Development is not an automatic process, however. It depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments.  

It is such a critical analysis to grasp.

Understanding that a child’s development is not an automatic process makes the journey smoother for the child. Children don’t follow a straight line because each child has specific conditions and manuals.

Parents’ involvement from day one is essential for a child’s success in the world.

Instinctively, we connect with our children, and that bond allows us to serve them powerfully. We spend excessive time and energy ensuring that no harm comes to them, whether physically, emotionally, socially and mentally – we are their armours and bodyguards.

In essence, the job of parenthood should be smooth and loaded with diverse knowledge about the development of our children; pretty sure that reading scientific theories and research-backed information should allow us to identify any gaps and issues in their development.

Seven years, we noticed that our second child was adorably quiet.

I guess it can be a refreshing and well-needed break from the activeness of the first child, who was insistent that fun and adventure were in breaking some boundaries and testing mummy’s patience and daddy’s coolness.

Looking back with fond memories, it felt like hell on earth at the time.

Lack of sleep and unaddressed stress can cause all sorts of demons to crawl out of the cabinet and attach themselves to your overall wellbeing; mind, soul and body, with their continuous testing do nothing good for both parent and child.

When you have two pole opposite children whose character traits are as apparent as day and night, you quickly pick up on development deficits.

It could have been a time for understandable worries and concerns daily, but we were fortunately lucky!.

He was an actively happy, engaging and very observant child. He played with his older brother, who had time and patience for him, and he became the tower of strength and fun which still stands today (the only thing is; however, pre-teens hormones are like fireballs ready to explode on anyone who gets in the way).

“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.”

Paulo Coelho

You would not guess someone amicable could have various medical issues impacting the overall development. It wasn’t so severe that it meant spending days, weeks and months under hospital care or even chasing private institutions for specialised medical attention.

His condition seemed subtle, nonchalant and strangely bearable enough. He didn’t cry out of discomfort, pain or confusion; he happily played and interacted how best he knew and was able to.

As the saying goes, when something is too good to be true, know it is; nothing worth having comes easy.

In Jairus’s case, he had obstructive sleep apnoea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.

He battled with this condition alongside having an unusually large adenoid for a small boy at two years old.

It’s a mass of enlarged lymphatic tissue between the back of the nose and the throat, often hindering speaking and breathing in young children.

These medical obstacles, plus having a duplex kidney, also called duplicated ureters, can cause delays in childhood development.

It is a problem with the urinary tract where two ureters drain urine from a single kidney. It can cause infections and minor complications with the kidney; luckily, in Jairus’s case, no treatment was needed, with regular checks in his early days allowing the issue to resolve on its own.

Externally, he didn’t show any signs of medical problems or that life was unkind, stopping him from loving life.

He exhibited the air of a happy and contented child who didn’t make an unnecessary fuss and cause any problems. He looked like he was having his best life of being a mummy’s boy, enjoying home life, and taking it easy and chilled.

Behind the closed door, we kept a secure eye on him just in case the sleep apnoea and the adenoids disturbed his normal growth.

It didn’t physically stop him; it impeded his social abilities as he couldn’t express himself through verbal communication. 

The only people who understood and had time to communicate with him through his nonverbal signals were the immediate family and the speech therapists.

They unsuccessfully tried to help explain and resolve his lack of speech.

As mentioned previously, we soon realised that the therapy sessions weren’t the answer, so we did some reading, researching and revaluating his conditions.

We combined the information collated with a solid intuition and praying, which assisted us in connecting the dots to why there was a delay in his speech and communication skills.

Our baby Jairus could not hear clearly, which prevented him from speaking because, if you couldn’t hear, how can you respond.

That realisation made the battle less daunting because, finally, we could pinpoint the cause and find a solution.

The solution came after four years of pressuring the medical department to operate on him to remove the adenoids, which will effectively help with his obstructive sleep apnoea and speech.

Going back to my statement that parents know the child the best, it’s true and essential for the child’s survival because we are their mouthpiece and reasoning.

As Jordan Peterson said, children will find it very hard to survive if parents are emotionally, physically, mentally, socially and spiritually absent from their lives.

“Children must be shaped and formed or they cannot thrive… Children are damaged when those charged with their care, afraid of any conflict or upset, no longer dare to correct them and leave them without guidance.“

Finally, the day came when he had to be operated on to remove the adenoid and place a grommet in his ears, usually inserted to treat ‘glue ear’ (fluid in the middle ear) or prevent recurrent otitis media (middle ear infection). It is a small ventilation tube inserted into the eardrum to allow air into the middle ear and prevent fluid build-up.

This device was a godsend.

So Jairus no longer suffered from disturbed sleep and the fear of the unknown while sleeping.

Additionally, the removed adenoids and the fitting of the grommet meant that Jairus was reborn again with superhero powers. Speech therapy sessions became redundant and a thing of the past.

We immediately witnessed that Jairus had better, quieter sleep and clarity in communication.

On the first day after the operation, Jairus spiel out what he had been holding back for over five years and didn’t stop talking; he was catching up. 

Since his condition kept him in the dark, it made him observant, which helped him develop essential foundational characteristic traits such as empathy, reasoning, better judgment and patience for people.

The question we asked ourselves was, was it a wasted five years of Jairus’s life; with better insight and understanding, I would say that it’s not, and it has shown us how resilient children are when they have true love and support. 

It was a fantastic journey for us as parents; going through the experience gave us the knowledge that if we genuinely need something, we need to push and knock down closed doors, as, through persistence, amazing things eventually come through. 

I would highly recommend parents listen to the small still voice and check over their children’s development stage, just in case a child is held back for medical reasons.

If we had not persisted, insisted and gained intuitive knowledge about his conditions, he may still be lacking and flanking education and held back socially and academically.

Parents should not disregard the subtle signs and behaviours that are out of character or don’t match their child’s development stage.

Look for tell-tell signs because it could be the sign from healthy development all-rounder to when a child is prevented from fully growing in confidence and love.

What are some signs to look out for when helping your child blossom into a human who will appreciate and be appreciated for their talents and service in the world?

  • Unusually quiet
  • Don’t want to participate in any activities
  • Do they tag onto their ears excessively  
  • The majority of the time want to be alone
  • They are struggling in school or at home when it comes to academic
  • Do they get into trouble all the time

If they exhibit any of these signs, seek medical attention and persist because you will be opening doors that your child alone can’t open.

In the end, everyone will be relieved, especially the child who has been held back for so long.

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