My daughter has come such a long way since first being diagnosed with a speech disorder at age two. She has spoken fluently and in complete sentences for so many years now that I sometimes forget that expressing herself through words can be hard for her. When she was little, this difficulty would manifest itself as tears of frustration when I wasn’t able to understand what she wanted. Now, she sometimes struggles to find the right word—but is generally able to make herself understood.
Last week my now seven-year-old daughter asked me at breakfast if I could take her and her siblings to play chess. I was immediately surprised, as we have a chess set that she has never shown any interest in playing. I told her that we already had chess at our house and that we could play it later if she wanted. She looked confused, and when I showed her the chess set, she dismissively said, “No, not that, Mommy.” I was trying to ask her questions about what she was referring to when she got up from the table saying, “I’ll be right back.”
She came back five minutes later with a picture she had drawn of what she meant by “chess.” She is a very talented artist and I could immediately tell from the picture that what she meant was that she wanted me to take her and her siblings to try archery. Full disclosure: I have no idea where she got that idea from—the closest we ever get to archery is a trip to Target! And to be fair, I am not sure how many seven-year-old kids would know the word for archery. However, I can imagine other children describing the activity by using keywords like bow and arrow, bullseye, or Robin Hood. Her approach may have been different, but the result was the same–she got her point across. More importantly, she was able to get her point across without becoming frustrated or giving up, and she did so in a way that made the most sense to her. If that isn’t effective communication, then I don’t know what is.
To say I am proud of her growth and resiliency is an understatement. She blows me away every day, but sometimes it takes something like this to show me just how far she has come. If anyone needs me, I’ll be googling “where to take a seven-year-old to try archery”… Wish me luck!