When you're a kid, the subtle art of communication can be a bit of a puzzle.
You have to learn so many new words and sounds and they can sometimes come out wrong.
My daughter has experienced hearing problems in the past and this has had an impact on learning and development.
The main issue centres around speech development and how she's learnt to form certain sounds.
Hopefully now we're on the right track but it's taken a bit of a journey to get here.
Using A Dummy
We used a dummy when both my son and my daughter were babies to help pacify them.
My son gave his up as a toddler and it was him that decided he no longer wanted them.
But my daughter was really attached to them and struggled to give up her "doo-doos".
I can't remember the exact age she was when we finally managed to persuade her but she was certainly older than three.
In hindsight that was a completely bad idea. We've been struggling with speech issues with her ever since.
And the subtle art of communication may have been compromised from that moment.
It may not have been that although I suspect it was a contributing factor.
My daughter has quite an unusual speech disorder in that she produces some sounds at the back of her mouth instead of the front.
It's known as a backing disorder and with her it affects the sounds s, t, f, d, sh and ch.
Examples are that t comes out sounding like a k and d like a g.
It was her nursery teacher that first pointed out there might be a speech problem.
At the time, I was completely in denial and said I couldn't hear anything wrong.
And in truth neither myself nor my wife had consciously noticed.
It might sound daft but we didn't. We could understand what she was saying even if sometimes others couldn't.
The guilt trip I felt when it sank in felt overwhelming.
Having come to terms with the backing disorder we went to see our local GP for advice. She just happens to specialise in paediatrics.
She made an appointment for my daughter to have a hearing test as a starting point to see if there were any underlying issues.
The hearing test brought to light that she had hearing problems - particularly in the lower range sounds.
That could explain why learning the subtle art of communication has been an uphill struggle.
So we were referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist at the Royal Hospital For Sick Children in Edinburgh.
And the diagnosis was that she had glue ear. She was hearing things how we would if we put our hands over our ears.
Grommets And Adenoidectomy
Glue ear can just go away by itself or it can be seasonal.
My daughter had hearing tests and her ears were examined by the doctor over a 12 month period or thereabouts.
For us, things seemed to get better only to go downhill again later in the year.
Inevitably something more had to be done to sort out the hearing problems.
At the age of five, that was quite a big thing for her and it was an anxious time for my wife and I.
My daughter has always had quite large tonsils so we were surprised that they weren't whipped out at the same time.
Thankfully, the operation went fine and she recovered from it quite quickly.
To help with the subtle art of communication, my daughter has been having speech therapy.
Trying to unlearn how she's learnt to say things is quite a big task.
With the NHS in our area, you have an assessment and then if it's deemed necessary you have a block of six speech therapy sessions.
This circle of assessment and blocks of therapy continue until no longer needed.
Our experience with the NHS service so far has been poor. You don't always get the same therapist each time and they vary in experience.
It can also take longer than the maximum 12 weeks you're supposed to wait between assessment and blocks of therapy.
We decided the only thing we could do was to pay for a private speech therapist.
We've had to dig deep to do it but it's been worth every penny.
The speech therapist goes into my daughter's school each week. Having that continuity as well as being in the school environment has really improved things.
We're not there yet but the improvement since she started with the private speech therapist has been phenomenal.
Mastering The Subtle Art Of Communication
My daughter currently has one grommet still intact in her ear and the other one has fallen out.
She continues to be monitored by the ear, nose and throat specialist but hopefully when the other one falls out, that will be the conclusion of her hearing issues.
The speech therapy will carry on until she has mastered all of the sounds.
I feel like we owe it to her to get this right.
How about you? Have you experienced any of these issues with your kids? How are things going now?
Did you use a dummy or a soother when they were little? Has that had any adverse affects?
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