Posted by: ramonamom | May 19, 2009

Not My Words, But Thine…

I had a weekly meeting with one of our girls this morning that I found myself not looking forward to at all.  She is 19, which is the legal age of adulthood in our state, yet the job was set before me this morning to let her know that she would need to put off her driving test for an indefinite amount of time.  Much consideration had been given to the best way to present this news to her, but in the end I found myself praying for wisdom more than doing my own planning, as I could do little to prepare her heart to hear the news – that would be up to God. 

This particular daughter is deaf, but that is not the actual reason for the delay.  Deaf people CAN drive.  We adopted her at the age of 9 from a Russian deaf boarding school and she had only a handful of language skills at that point in her life.  She could say a few words in Russian and knew a small amount of Russian Sign Language, but in general she did not “communicate” via language at all when we adopted her.  She had a good sense of humor and could make visual “jokes”, but there was no language for her to work with.  Soon after she arrived in America, language acquisition began in earnest, but her brain was not nearly as “language ready” as it once had been.

Our daughter learned English well in our homeschool – I had the privilege of teaching her to read, write, and speak our language.  She also picked up many abstract concepts that she had previously had no understanding of.  After many years, her academic ability seemed to plateau, though, and at the age of 18 we deemed her “finished” with formal education and began concentrating on teaching her the art of homemaking, as her greatest desire is to be a wife and mother. 

Perhaps I should not have been surprised, then, when I began meeting with her on a weekly basis and going through a character building book, to find that her skills in reading comprehension had actually significantly diminished.   Since she was eager to pass the written portion of her driver’s exam, I spoke of my concerns regarding this regression with her audiologist.  She agreed that there was little comprehension, even in her conversation with our daughter, and she referred her for speech and language testing. 

The testing was this past week and I was surprised to find out how accurately I had assessed our daughter.  Her comprehension and language “age” was just about equal to the number of years she has been in our home.  In a culture that is geared so much around age – especially in the teen years – I had lost sight of how far our daughter had come and fallen into the “age appropriate” thought process rather than a more realistic “maturity appropriate” one.  She longed to drive, as her siblings were doing at her age and, although I had hesitancies that I could not really put my finger on, I (well, my husband and I) allowed her to begin studying for the written test. 

I am very thankful that her lack of comprehension and understanding became apparent BEFORE she was granted a driver’s license.  After having taken the test (and failing) numerous times, she purchased an online program that helped hone her test taking skills.  It became more and more apparent through the questions she asked me that she was not fully understanding the material, though.  Thus, I am very thankful for the timing of the testing and the input of the speech and language pathologist in this regard (she agreed that our daughter was not able to understand the material well enough to be behind the wheel of a vehicle). 

So, today was the day that I “broke the news” to her and I was not looking forward to doing this.  In the past, she has ranted against the “unfairness” of being deaf, so I prayed for God’s wisdom in addressing this particular issue.  After going over the previous week’s homework, I began to talk to her about the testing and upcoming therapy.  I reminded her that she had very little language when she came to America, but that she had done a great job of learning from there.  Proceeding carefully so as to not discourage her too much, I found myself taking a direction that I had not at all planned on.  It was as if God was the one talking and not me, as I am so prone to be callous and rough in my speech to her.  I spoke of how the therapist was going to help her understand things better and showed her a reading comprehension book that we would be using at home to supplement this therapy. 

At this point I gently brought up the subject of the driving material.  I told her that I was concerned about how well she was understanding what she was reading and just how important it was to KNOW the rules when you drive and how you have to make snap decisions based upon that knowledge.  An example I had not previously thought of came to mind, so I shared it with her.  I said, “I don’t want you to be hurt or killed, but I also don’t want others to be hurt by any mistakes you might make.  If you make a little mistake when you are driving, you could crash into a van with a mother and children, killing them all.”  I know that sounds extreme, but it is important for her to have very visual examples of situations, in order to really impress them upon her mind, and this one really worked.  Although her eyes had become a bit cloudy when I began talking about not taking the driving test right away, this example I shared with her seemed to help her understand clearly the dangers of driving without fully understanding the rules. 

I feel certain that those were not my words, but rather ones given to me by the Holy Spirit, as I needed them (Luke 12:11).  My words would have sent her running off in tears, but God’s were caring and compassionate.   Mine were awkward, but God’s were certain and unhesitating.  Once again, I have seen how His ways (and words) are far superior to mine, and for this I am forever thankful!

There is indeed hope for our daughter!  God is working in her heart and we are blessed with opportunities to share His love with her.  I have been reminded that driving is far from the most important thing for her to do right now.  She and I are both excited about the upcoming therapy sessions, knowing that they will help her comprehension and communications skills on a daily basis.

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Responses

  1. Hi Ramona, Your post really intrigued me, both as a Christian and as a Speech/Language Pathologist. Wishing you and your beautiful family abundant blessings!
    Mary

  2. That is interesting, Mary! Thanks for the good wishes!


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