Wednesday, June 23, 2010
For the past week and a half, a speech specialist from the states has been at New Day evaluating some of our kids. She has spent some time each day with Jenna, and yesterday gave her a final oral physical exam before completing her diagnosis. She has been diagnosed as "Selective Mutism." Basically that means she is simply choosing not to speak. It is not a terribly uncommon thing with institutionalized children or those suffering from severe traumas. We have no idea what traumas she may have endured in her life prior to coming to the Forever Home. We do know that she was moved around a bit previously. Something terribly difficult for a child to handle. I can also tell you that she has much difficulty with change. It takes her days or weeks to recover from a major event that happens in our home. For instance, when Hannah left for the hospital. Jenna had just began to speak. She'd said about 7-8 words for the first time. We were all so excited. Shortly thereafter, Hannah left for the hospital and Jenna was very upset for 2-3 days. With her previous history of being moved around so much, I'm sure she was wondering if she'd be the next to leave and it upset her. After a few weeks she began again only to have Serena arrive into the Forever Home. Again, her speech stopped with another change. Only about 3 days before Hannah was to come out of the hospital, Jenna again began to say a few words. Of course, seeing the pattern, we were concerned we were just beginning to make some progress again and she'd stop after another change of Hannah coming home. Sure enough it stopped. However, we are seeing a shorter and shorter time span in her making a come back between major changes. While we can't stop such changes from happening, we hope that things will settle down for awhile since we are at full capacity until we find a new home. Perhaps it will give Jenna the time she needs to heal emotionally and learn to speak. I am happy to report that she has began to speak once again this week!! Just yesterday she said a couple of new words. In the meantime, we are currently working on a picture system as a means of communication. We've been taking lots of pictures in order to put this together and get it up and working. Hopefully it will help relieve some of her frustration. I have to say that although she is the youngest girl in the Forever Home, she is BY FAR the most challenging. She is very, very strong willed and extremely controlling. I know, I know, she's most likely had to be that way in order for her to survive her previous background. She has had to rely on herself in order to get her needs met. We understand that, however, we just want to see her become a kid and enjoy letting adults take care of her needs for a change. I'm sure it will just take some time!