Friday, September 16, 2011

Ethan's Speech Update

Every time we move, Ethan goes through a new evaluation process to receive speech therapy at our new location. It was fairly quick in Amman, but here in VA, it's taking a while. We began our inquiries a month ago, and had two meetings near the end of August. Today, almost a month later, Ethan got through 2 of 3 testing sessions, and hopefully will do the final one next week. Then we still need to meet with the school district's therapist to hear their final evaluation and recommendation. Who knows when Ethan will finally be getting therapy again??

Today's first test was with the speech therapist, evaluating Ethan's speech production. For the first time, we heard that Ethan may possibly have oral apraxia. An early warning sign that he exhibited was his inability to reproduce "p-t-k" in quick repetition, even though he could say each of those sounds individually in repetition. He would need more testing done to discern whether apraxia is actually one of his problems.

It's interesting to me that the therapist here has a very different reaction to Ethan's speech than did his therapist in Amman (whom we love!) Many of the missing blend sounds (for example saying "boo" for "blue") or incorrect consonant sounds are considered normal preschool speech patterns here, and don't worry the therapist. In contrast, those were the very issues we were last working on in Amman. And as he was making great progress in Amman, it's hard for me to hear them say here that the issues are no big deal! But who am I? Not an expert, that's for sure.

Ethan's second test today was at the Virginia School for Deaf and Blind in Staunton, VA. It was free, with our referral from the local school district, so we decided to go ahead and have the thorough testing done, just to make sure we hadn't missed some small hearing problem in the past. The teacher at VSDB who tested Ethan was awesome -- very engaging, kind, and thorough -- as was her graduate student helping out. Despite Ethan's fears, he had a positive experience, and it turns out that he has nothing at all wrong with his ears. So -- that's one good thing!

We will keep you posted as we wrap up the evaluation process and find out about Ethan's eligibility for therapy. We thank God for how far he's come, and for his intelligence, outgoing personality, and natural curiousity. Now we just need to keep working on his intelligibility!

(Picture is Ethan in July with our dear friend Rachel Waterman)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Family Reunion

The Kids in Chicago

End of Summer

It's hard to believe that it's already September. The summer seemed to whiz by. We've been back from Jordan for 2 1/2 months now, most of that time spent here in Lexington, VA. We're living in the basement of Steve's parents until further notice -- Steve is looking for work as he prepares to start half-time, long-distance doctoral studies through the University of Exeter (England) in January. Both of us are doing computer work from home, which helps but doesn't pay all the bills. We're very grateful for Mom and Dad Gertz's hospitality and generosity!! They are long-suffering and patient.

The highlight of our summer was a trip to the Midwest to visit friends and family. We spent a week in the Wheaton (Chicago) area, catching up with college and church friends, and sharing memorable places with the kids, like the John Hancock Center and Cosley Zoo. It was wonderful to spend time with people who know us well, and the kids had a great time playing with our friends' children, canoeing and pedal-boating, fishing for the first time, and splashing in a few different water/splash parks!

My immediate family also got together in Wisconsin for our first family reunion in years. Grandpa and Julie, and my uncle David and aunt Pamela, all flew out from CA; my parents flew in from Nigeria (!!), and my two siblings, their spouses and kids made the trek as well. What a sweet time it was to meet my 3 nieces (for the first time!), play with my nephews, and catch up with all the adults! I loved seeing my kids get to know their cousins, while playing "football" (soccer) in the garage, hide-and-seek and sardines in the house, and throwing stones into the nearby lake. I loved singing with my whole family while my dad played guitar -- great family favorites by Simon & Garfunkel, and Peter, Paul & Mary.

It was all too short, though! Thankfully my parents were able to spend an extra week with us in VA, but when you only see each other every 2 years, 14 days doesn't seem like enough!! And it had been even longer than 2 years since we'd seen my other relatives. Sigh...

Back in Lexington, the kids enjoyed going to two Vacation Bible Schools, having an overnight with their cousin Owen, swimming a bit in the city pool, and generally enjoying American life again. We can't get enough of the color green! Can't get enough water, either!

Now it's September and we've done two weeks of school. We're using "My Father's World," Math-U-See, and Spelling Power for Naomi and Josiah's 4th grade, as well as Count on Math and Picture Book Activities for Ethan's preschool. More to come...

What we're missing about Amman...

Arab music
large dining room table, great for school!
neighbor kids
pita bread
Books & More librarians
going to church on Friday nights
Oasis (our church)
cheap iced drinks available everywhere
dry heat
goats, donkeys and camels