There I was, sitting in a speech session in the middle of the week. It was a monotonous day, one that looked a lot like the few days/weeks/months before it. But then something happened, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Tears began to fill my eyes and I literally had to stop my thoughts in their tracks to keep myself from losing it right then and there. An on-looker might be confused about why I was suddenly a teary eyed bawl baby – as it looked like an ordinary day. But I knew I had just witnessed a MIRACLE. My client, a five year old severely apraxic little boy had looked up at me in the middle of our session together and with a little bit of a smirk on his face had verbally requested a toy he wanted to play with. “What’s the big deal?” – you ask. Well. I understood him. Every sound, syllable, and word in the sentence were said correctly. They were said naturally and easily, as if he wasn’t even thinking about how to get the words to come out. He SPOKE and I heard his VOICE. He had a voice, and I had heard it. I heard his pitch, his tone, his intonation, his resonance. I heard him. And it was beautiful.
You see… When I begin working with a severely delayed client I often dream about them. I dream that I am speaking with them and communicating with them, and they are communicating with me. In my dreams it is always natural and easy. They don’t have to work at it. It just comes out. When I wake up from one of these dreams I am always hit with such mixed emotions. Happiness because I heard them speaking, but sadness because I know it was not real. Hope because I am then driven to make it a reality, and a little bit of fear that it will not be possible.
But on this day, my dream came true. I heard his voice and it was beautiful. And it took me by such surprise – because even though I had often dreamed of it – the reality was so much more beautiful than the dream.
On this day, after hours and days and months of practice and drills and models and techniques – it all came together. He spoke. Now don’t get me wrong. He had communicated before, but always with aid and force and fatigue. But not on that day. That day it was natural. That day it was beautiful. And that day gave me the motivation to push forward because I knew he could do it.
Today, that sweet little boy is like a parrot. He literally imitates every word, sound, or sentence that comes out of my mouth. As we climb into our chairs each afternoon to work I always begin by saying “Are you ready to work?” and I always hear his little echo “Are you ready to work?”. He is amazing. He used to be scared of his voice. And tired of trying. But now he has learned that his voice has power, and with practice and work he can make it do whatever he wants it to.
His mother informed me that last night he said a prayer, and she cried through it because she understood it. She is getting to meet her child for what seems like the first time. Because he is unlocking what was always locked inside.
This is the reason I do what I do. He is the reason. There is no greater job than helping a child find his voice. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
He gives me motivation to continue with each client I work with. And because of him I am reminded to never give up.
Here is an inspiring message to help you remember to never give up as well…
Aren’t these the best days? It makes every moment, every heartbreak so completely worth it. I hope the world is filled with professionals who care as much as you do. I am sure just as they are your “reason” you are theirs as well.
They really are the very best days. I love seeing progress – it is the best feeling when you feel like all your work is paying off.