Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jalen Speaks

- from Christy

Dateline Graham - Late September

The boys had sat through hours and hours of speech therapy, and still there was no speech. I had resigned myself to this non-verbal state. After all, the neurologist told us that if Josiah and Jalen were not talking by the age of three, then they would likely never talk. Josiah was now five years old, and Jalen three and a half. Josiah had no language – not a word. Jalen would occasionally say an approximation of “mama,” but it was very infrequent and rarely upon request. Our friends at TEACCH encouraged us to hold out hope, that there is so much unknown about this disorder. Our focus changed. Yes, we would continue speech therapy, but we resolved that, if God wanted the boys to talk, they would. If He didn’t, then they wouldn’t. We chose to focus on resting in God’s sovereignty.

Towards the end of September, Jalen began what seemed like babbling. He always made noises, but the sounds he now made were almost like a conversation. He began to cue in like never before, taking interest in the facial expressions of others. He also started saying the letter “d” when we would recite the alphabet to him, and he would repeat most of the word “eat” when we would say that it was time to eat. All of this was great, but we remained guarded. We had seen what appeared to be development before, but it went away as soon as it showed up.

On October 10th, I was standing in the kitchen when I heard singing. Olivia and Jack were at school and Judah was playing. I knew instantly that it was Jalen. I turned around and found him in the swing. He was singing, Behold. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hear my voice, and will open, open, open the door, I will come in. He sounded like a deaf child – the melody of the song was perfect and some of the words were recognizable. Jalen was singing!

The speech therapists that we work with believe that Jalen has something called Apraxia. It is a disorder that causes problems with oral motor planning. This is why Jalen sounds deaf and is hard to understand. It is something that can improve with therapy. Normally it takes years of therapy to overcome, but it can improve.

In the weeks that have followed, Jalen has added several new songs to his repertoire: B-I-N-G-O, Deep and Wide, Jesus Loves Me, and The Wheels on the Bus. He has started saying the alphabet from A-Z when I use sign language to finger spell it. The sounds are very hard to understand, but given the melody of the songs and the order of the alphabet, there’s no mistaking what he’s trying to do.

What are we learning? That God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think” (Eph.3:20), that we can rejoice that God’s mercies are new every morning and He is faithful (Lam. 3:23), and that God knows the plans He has for us (Jer. 29:11). God created Jalen, and placed him in our family. God sustains Jalen’s life, and has given him a voice. We are rejoicing!


  1. I already knew this but it made me cry all over again! Especially your video clip. I can only imagine, putting myself in your place, the transcendent joy of seeing these developments. Funny how these amazing kids can bring us to the extremes of joy and despair!

  2. Love it. Made me cry. He is so joyed to be expressing himself too. How wonderful

  3. Your post and video clip brought this verse to my mind.
    "Then the Lord said to him, Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?" Exodus 4:11

    I find it interesting that seeing is mentioned in this verse as well as the things we would consider disabilities. God's wisdom and knowledge is so vastly greater than ours and in His perfect will He chooses to make us exactly as He pleases. God will be glorified in little Jalen's life! It is wonderful to see and hear him singing songs of praise to God!

  4. Thank you all for the sweet comments.

    Lori, I know you can totally relate to the highs and lows! We are so thankful for this high!


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