Long before Gracie turned 2 we started to begin to notice her delay in development. Mainly in her speech and but also in other areas. I spent a lot of time worrying about it and thinking I was totally screwing this kid up somehow. One day I was driving home from my doctor appointment while pregnant with Zade and saw a sign for a Speech Therapist. I emailed them inquiring about their fees and whether or not they are covered by insurance. As it turns out, the lady who replied told me how the public school system offers "free" (school taxes) speech therapy for those who needed it.
So, after Zade was born and that whole NICU part of our lives was over, I got on the phone and got Gracie scheduled for an evaluation with Keller ISD. Once they evaluated her they informed me she is eligible and would greatly benefit from what is called PPCD - which stands for Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities. They did not specifically diagnose her with any one specific disability. She was enrolled at the elementary school half a mile from our house and began on her 3rd birthday. Gracie has a WONDERFUL teacher there and is so loved. Twice a week she goes to speech therapy with an awesome speech therapist. Before she began Matt and I met with the diagnosticians, vice principal, speech therapist and her teacher to set up what is called an IEP (individual education plan). This is a plan that is custom-made to Gracie's needs. She attends Monday thru Friday for 3hrs. a day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays she rides the bus from her school to our preschool.
She has been attending PPCD for almost a year now and the progress she has made is remarkable. Matt and I are so proud of her and so is her teacher. She went from not even ever attempting to speak to now spontaneously speaking. Her articulation is still a work in progress but we will take whatever we can get!
It has since been determined that Gracie does have what most people identify with as a learning disability however, those with any intelligence at all will understand that it is not a disability at all. Gracie is behind developmentally - but she is in no way dumb. She learns differently than most people. We refer to her condition as a learning difference (LD).
At this time, we do not know in what ways her life will be effected by LD -but it has so far impacted her life in various ways and ours as well. Well-meaning people treat her differently than others her age. Even other children treat her differently. This I know is something that we will have to work through and teach her to deal with as she gets older. But for now, as her mom, it hurts.
I know there have been rumors of her having other issues - like autism. So to clear the air - we do not feel that Gracis is autistic. We are, however, having her evaluated in a few weeks for ADD (attention deficit disorder) so be in prayer about that. There are some signs we are seeing that have caused us to suspect ADD -mainly, her lack of focus. Gracie is a very busy girl and easily distracted. This made potty-training difficult and other milestone - type lessons.
Throw all of this on top of toddlerism and a new baby and parenting has been the lesson of a lifetime! I have spent a lot of hours crying, praying, and strategizing...trying to find ways to teach Gracie all the things that a mom is supposed to teach their child. It's hard to find the fine line between helping your child and enabling your child.
I've said all of this to say - we are doing our very best. I know that when you're on the outside looking in it's easy to say how you would handle things. I know before we had kids Matt and I used to watch other parents and criticize. But now, we realize we probably didn't know all the facts. I know God has a plan for our family, for Matt and I as parents, and for Gracie's future. He's taught us priceless lessons through Gracie. I know Gracie is going to be a better person for all the struggles she will go through. I myself have learned to be patient with other children. Being a preschool teacher, I try to understand the parents' side of things more.
I'm thankful for the road that God is leading us down. I know there are mothers out there that have children with more severe disabilities than Gracie's and they are my heroes. It takes strong women to raise those children and I realize that now. God gives grace to us all....huh - I guess that's why we call her Gracie!