Yellow Arrows, Apraxia, and Knowing the Way

June 17, 2008 - Day 15 Complete, 28 km

Everyday when I walk I can’t help but see the yellow arrows that mark the way and make it so easy to follow the path. Every time if I start to wonder if I’m going the correct way, anxious that I made a wrong turn, I’ll see a yellow arrow or a scallop shell. I immediately know I’m on the right path. It’s very reassuring.

If only life was so well-marked.

Yet, in the same breath I remember all the people or events or places that have served as my own personal “yellow arrows.” Those quiet conversations. The well-timed questions. The class that opened up a new way of thinking. That book. That play. That worship service. So many people have pointed me in a direction that has helped me grow and learn. So many people have loved me. Prayed for me. Welcomed me. Questioned with me. Supported me.

The yellow arrows are all around.

June 17, 2018

Sometimes I look at my daughter, I listen to her talk to us, and I wonder - did we miss something along the way? Should I have known earlier that something was going on in her brain to keep her from forming words?

My daughter has Childhood Apraxia of Speech - a speech delay where her brain doesn’t communicate with her mouth and its muscles. She understands everything and knows what she wants to say - but has trouble making the sounds and words to be coherent. She’s learning how to make sounds, shape her mouth, and strengthen the muscles needed for speech. It’s a long journey but one that will be resolved with speech therapy, over time.

I can’t help but wonder if we missed some markers along the way. She’s our first child and everything was so new with her. Everything a mystery unfolding. Yet with the passing months and still no words, we knew something was wrong. I couldn’t help but worry about her lack of speech. After numerous evaluations, doctor’s visits, and hearing tests we’ve landed at a great place for speech therapy. We have a diagnosis.

And yet I still have so many questions.

Did I miss something along the way?

One truth that I do know: there’s no known cause of apraxia. Which means that there is nothing that could have been done differently. This speech delay is a part of her, but it’s only one part. A challenging and stressful part I’ll admit, but one that is shaping and forming me along the way.

My pilgrimage along the Camino taught me to notice. To be aware of my surroundings. To pay attention. To see the signs that are guiding me. Perhaps I did miss the signs of her specific delay and could have had her in speech earlier. Yet, as each day passes and she’s gaining more and more control of her speech and words are being added, I’m realizing that we’re on this journey and we’re right where we need to be. Family, community, friends, doctors, and therapists have been our guiding way along this new terrain.

Our yellow arrows are varied and diverse. They are in our midst. Always guiding us.

Fellow parents providing a listening ear to my worries.
Acquaintances sharing information on area resources for speech.
Therapists who explain over and over again the nuances of speech and language and reassure me we’re doing just fine.
Church members who celebrate new words with us.
Family who love unconditionally.
Friends who tell us how much our daughter brings light to the world.

This is my daughter’s way. This is our way.
Yellow arrows pointing us forward.
Reminding us we’re never alone.

**This is part of a series of blog posts reflecting on my time walking the Camino de Santiago in 2008. Throughout the next month (the 33 days it took me to walk 500 miles), I’ll share excerpts from my journal written during my walk as well as the lessons that continue to guide me. Thanks for joining me on this journey!