Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Listening to sign language

The title of this post makes about as much sense saying "I am going to go watch some music on the radio". I assure you, there is a reason for that. Imagine that you are having a conversation. It is a conversation that you are greatly enjoying. It is beautiful and happy. Suddenly, the person you are talking with stops speaking vocally, and begins using sign language (or rather, a language that you do not speak or understand). Not only that, but they alternate between this language and the one you do speak and understand, causing you to become more and more confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed.

Now imagine you are on the other side of this conversation. You know that you have changed absolutely nothing, but the other person suddenly does not understand what you are saying. Not only do they not understand what you are saying, but you can barely understand them. This is the best way I can describe what has happened to my older daughter and me. I am sure that many people that read this will be confused at first, but don't worry. I am going to elaborate.

My daughter developed perfectly "normal" as an infant up to the age of about seven months. It was at that point that a child development specialist told me that she was incredibly advanced. I never thought much of it, but now it seems as though it were an ominous forbearance. by one year old, she was speaking in sentences three to four words long and had an incredible vocabulary. At age two, she exhibited a powerful memory and began to develop an appreciation for the arts. Classical music and ballet are an obsession for her. 

At age three she self potty trained. This is when I started to notice something was not right. Something had changed. She had a terribly difficult time making friends with other children. Play was confusing for her and led to emotional meltdowns. Her hearing seemed to become more sensitive, and higher pitches and louder volumes were unbearable. Certain materials were too scratchy and she would cut up those clothes so she would not have to wear them. She became afraid of the dark. If the temperature was not just right, she would become highly unpleasant. The look or smell of foods she previously had loved made her sick.

It has only gotten worse. She has a near eidetic memory, so she memorizes phrases from movies and uses them in situations where she is uncomfortable and cannot really find another way to express herself. She has violent meltdowns where she is her greatest victim. She has regressed emotionally to a point where her younger sister is more mature. She cannot develop relationships with children her age at all. She is a wiz in math but gives up quickly in Language arts. She will get up and climb out a window or walk out the door at four in the morning. She has no concept of people being willing to injure her. She simply cannot understand cause to effect. When she does things that she has been told are not okay and gets into trouble, she cannot understand why. 

This, my friends, is only a small glimpse into what is going on. Every day is a huge struggle. Her meltdowns are more and more frequent. She requires near constant calming are reassurance. It is exhausting, because it is having a huge impact on her sleep. I am facing criminal charges because she got up at 5 one morning and just walked out the door. (That was a nightmare of its own and I now have extreme anxiety every time I see a police car). People look at her like she is a bad child, and make snide comments at me when I correct her. My little princess...this is so difficult...

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