Let me back up and give you some history. After two years of a blessed marriage, God gave us another wonderful blessing: our son, Gabriel. Life was quite a whirlwind as two inexperienced parents try to figure out how to care for this little one. Gabriel’s first couple of years were quite normal. For the most part, he was a mellow kid. I remember when he was 1 year old, I was sitting at a party and talking to a friend for a couple of hours, and he just stayed very still on my lap, quietly observing what was around him. He didn’t squirm at all or complain. At only 18 months old, he already welcomed a new baby sister, Tamara.
Gabriel hit all the typical milestones so we had no reason to worry … until his doctor began to ask about his speech development. “Is he saying sentences? Two-word sentences? Three-word sentences?” Not really. More like one word sentences mixed with a lot of baby talk sounds and gibberish. He was two and a half. He’s a late bloomer, we thought, give it some time. We held off on getting him evaluated by a speech pathologist even after the strong encouragement from his pediatrician. By the time he was three, we could tell something was not quite right. Behavioral problems increased partly due to the difficulty in communication. We finally had him evaluated, and he was diagnosed with Mixed Expressive/Receptive Language Disorder. Basically, that means, compared to other children his age, he has significant delays in what he is able to say (expressive) and what he is able to understand (receptive). At 3 1/2 years old, he began working with a speech therapist once a week. This continued on until he was 5 years old. Then, we had a decision to make. Where would he go to school? His speech therapist and doctors all encouraged us to put him in our local public school. “Immerse him” was a phrase we heard over and over again. We prayed and sought the Lord for wisdom. Gabriel has had some classroom experience in our church Sunday School. And, although he had amazing teachers, who really tried to work with him, we knew he just did not thrive in a classroom setting. My husband had volunteered in his class for some time, and he observed that, for the most part, Gabriel was in his own world. We already knew what would happen if we enrolled him in our public school’s Kindergarten class.
After much prayer and counsel, we decided that I would homeschool Gabriel. We are so blessed to have many friends from church who are also homeschooling and many have been doing it for years. I had to deal with some nerves as is typical with most first-time homeschooling moms, but it was exciting to plan for our school year ahead. It has been a challenging endeavor, but we are convinced that our son will thrive better in the home than in a classroom of 30 kids.
Fast forward to today and here I am, now with two more little blessings, Chase and Eric. Homeschooling has been more challenging than ever, with more children to attend to but also because of Gabriel’s special needs. I know that Gabriel’s needs are not as severe as others, but they do require a measure of patience, love, understanding, strength, and grace that I often feel deficient in …. until the Lord brings me to my senses and shows me the ocean of patience, love, understanding, strength, and grace that belong to Him.
(Photo credit: University of Maryland Press Release)
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