June 17, 2010
Dear Board of Directors of Small Steps in Speech,
Time and time again, we have heard from those who love us that we can count on them for support. By now, many have heard of the many trials children on the Autism spectrum battle on a daily basis, and of the hardship families endure both emotionally as well as financially. The 80% divorce rate figure among couples with children on the Autism spectrum that has been widely reported has not gone unnoticed by friends and family and we know that they pray for our Celina and for our family constantly. Nonetheless, there are needs that can’t be addressed by love alone.
What most people don’t see are the tears, the meltdowns, and the frustration from child and parents when something as basic as speaking is a challenge. Looking back, it’s not easy to forget the countless times mom, dad, and daughter would end up on the floor, a heap of exhausted emotion, all because there were no answers to simple questions like, “what’s wrong?”, “does something hurt?”, “did someone hurt you?”, “are you hungry?” “mad?”, “tired?”, or “do you need a hug?”.
Speech has been the cornerstone therapy for all of our Celina’s successes. The Autism diagnosis came at the age of 23 months for our 6 year old daughter, and even then, we knew that the diagnosis would not define Celina, but rather the prognosis would be shaped by our determination to retrieve her from the Autism that had taken her from us. All treatment comes at a price, and for our family, the grant from Small Steps in Speech is truly life altering. It is a great relief to not have to think about what we can give, versus what our Celina needs, and what she needs, is to continue her Speech therapy.
We’ve gone from two to three words used to request the most basic of needs, to having the honor of being able to get to know our daughter. With every passing day, aided by her Speech therapy, we see emerging a witty, girly, diva personality, who can now voice her wants, needs, preferences, and love. Just last week, we witnessed Celina’s first unprompted question! She pointed to a flower, and asked “Mommy, what’s that?” Mom responded, “A flower”. She giggled and asked again, “what’s that?” Mom said, “It’s a daisy”, and Celina replied, “Daisies are beautiful, Mommy.”
On June 14th of this year, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary, and it was our daughter who gave us the most amazing gift that day. On our way home from her first day of summer school, Mom asked Celina if she wanted to speak with her Dad on the phone, and when she took the phone, she proceeded to have a REAL, unprompted, unrehearsed conversation with Dad. She told him that she’d had a lot of fun, and that her new friend had made poor choices in school that day, and that she (of course) had only made good ones. Oh, and that she wanted chocolate cake for dessert.
Thank you and God Bless you, Board of Directors of Small Steps in Speech. Slowly but surely we are getting back the giggly, bright-eyed daughter we thought we’d lost. With your help, our Celina continues to find her voice one Glorious, Small, Step at a time.