When I brought Nora down to Seattle to be assessed on how to help her speech, I didn't realize what a huge commitment it would be on my part upon our return to Kodiak. The reality was that when the teachers in Seattle were explaining the program to me and that I would be embarking on 5 days a week (for 20 weeks), my face had a confident, "No problem" smile, while on the inside I was in slight shock.
"Can I really commit to this?" ran through my head, as well as "Do we have the time? What are the chances of me being able to teach Nora 5+ hours a week and have her respond to me, without tears?". These are all questions which I pondered internally as I went to bed in Seattle with Nora sound asleep next to me in the hotel room.
Upon our return to Kodiak, Nora wanted to do her first session within an hour of getting off the airplane. I had to talk her into letting me unpack and take a shower before we went up to the clinic to give the program a first attempt. Those 20 minutes weren't so great, as Nora was exhausted but she was willing to end it quickly because I think she also saw how tired she was.
The next day at her first true session, I saw that it might be OK. There was no tears, Nora worked very hard, the computer and headphone equipment worked well. I went better than I ever imagined. But it was just day one. I was still quite skeptical that it could go well. But I hoped.
Now we are on the end of week 3, getting ready to start week 4 this weekend. Nora and I Facetime weekly with Nora's teacher, Becka, in Seattle. Becka watches me execute the session with Nora and gives feedback.
Today for instance, on Facetime we say Hi! to eachother.
Nora bats her eyelashes at Becka and when Becka is off screen for a moment Nora whispers to me, "I wish Becka was my mom!". This warms my heart because it means Nora really likes her time with Becka and this makes Nora respond so well to Becka's cues.
I ask, "Becka, with this figure 8 balance board exercise, can you watch and make sure I'm doing it correctly with Nora?"
Becka watches through the phone as Nora stands on a balance board. Nora is to watch my finger trace figure 8's of various 8's in the air as she stands on the balance board. Becka gives me some feedback on how to make it a little easier for Nora to succeed. Nora responds quickly to Becka's cues and I take notes as needed.
Becka's words are so re-assuring, her smile confident and she helps me feel like I'm on the right path. She does the fine tuning with the exercises and helps me find the best words in which to give Nora feedback with.
For instance, instead of saying, "Nora, keep your legs straight" she asks, "Nora, what are your legs doing? Are they bent or straight?" That will bring Nora's attention to her legs and remember that she needs to keep them straight for that activity.
Each day is a different routine-different progression of exercises. Easy ones are phased out, harder ones phased in. There is a fun excitement of going in to see what that day will bring with our program as it is never the same.
In 3 weeks we will finish one component of the program and then start a new program for the summer which is intended to help with decoding words with reading. There will be more intensive on-line and Facetime training for me to implement this part of the program with Nora. I don't see this process as a challenge anymore; just a wild, fun journey I get to go on with Nora!