Invisible ability

I often think of this rambling old post I wrote about Hoot. He’s a tough, brave kid, with an awe inspiring approach to life and the world.

He also has a speech impairment called childhood apraxia of speech. I’ve wondered about admitting that now that my blog isn’t anonymous. But I’ve decided first, I’m not ashamed of his diagnosis, and second, I admire how he’s working through it every day.

Wise, as people might suspect, is a natural and advanced communicator. He’s always been that way — the kid’s first word was “booberry” (blueberry). Hoot’s first words came later and at three, he’s not as intelligible as most kids his age.

Our issues understanding him are the single biggest source of stress in my life right now. The morning routine comes to a screeching halt when he can’t make us understand what he wants to wear or what animal he’s seeing out the window. His brain tells him he’s saying one thing but his mouth muscles misfire and we hear another. Sometimes he has an angry toddler-esque tantrum, but more often now, he sobs, huge tears running down his cheeks while he asks “Why you no undastand me?” and it takes everything I have not to cry, too. It’s exhausting.

And yet, the determination he’s shown since he learned to walk, daring to cross bridges and jump creeks that would terrify an older child, and getting up after he’s fallen down, refusing to cry for long, continues to shine through.

Yesterday afternoon, as we were leaving to pick up Wise from school, Hoot was trying to tell me something; I thought he was asking me for a snack. I offered him a granola bar and told him he’d otherwise have to wait until we got home.

“No, I no a say that!”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Can you show me?”

“No, I no can a show you. You do it!”

“I’m sorry, Hoot. I don’t know what you want me to do. But we’re going to be late. We have to pick up Wise from school.”

“No, we no pick a Wise from shool. You snakd for midk swain.”

I still had no idea.

He groaned and said very clearly. “Fine I do it.” He then walked to the bathroom, turned on the water, and washed his face.

“Oh, you wanted me to wash the snot off your face.”


“I’m sorry, Hoot. I didn’t understand.”

“I know. I lova you.” He patted my face. “Don be yumpy Mommy. We no a yae a Wise.”

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