On August 4, 2010 a beautiful baby boy was born. He was such a blessing to me and my husband both. I always listened to music in the car and I always played music around the house. Country music was something my son was familiar with, even in the womb. He had some muscle tone issues at around three months of age and received therapy early on for that. He had a huge personality and we kept waiting for him to speak but he never did. I remember at his second birthday party thinking “He don’t even have words.” We would be in the grocery store and he would sit quietly in the cart, holding my cell phone and playing different songs. I had to turn it down low, so other shoppers wouldn’t be disturbed. If we were in the car and he started to act up, I would just crank up the Jason Aldean or Justin Moore and he would instantly be okay. Kierce was diagnosed at 2 1/2 with Apraxia. Apraxia is a neurological disorder that effects the brain’s ability to send the proper signal to the muscles used for speaking. Most children with Apraxia can speak, it’s just not very clear. At 2 1/2 Kierce had about five words. He was basically non verbal. He also had a few other disorders and even at three he is still eating baby food. However, his cognitive abilities are outstanding. He is such a little Einstein.
We were driving in the car one day and I was listening to Joe Nichols, my cell phone rang so I turned the music down in order to answer. I heard the cutest little voice shout, “momma UP!” I told my friend I would have to call her back, it was mandatory to blast the Joe Nichols. After all, he did use his voice. Fast forward a week later, Kierce comes home from school (special ed pre k) and my husband greets him, “Did you sing songs at school today? What songs did you sing?” Kierce smiled as he said “red red red red redneck.” The next morning his teacher got a good laugh out of that one. For those of you who aren’t familiar with those lyrics, it’s a Blake Shelton song. The other morning Kierce woke up and was saying something I couldn’t understand, I named off about five thousand things hoping he would say yes. Finally, I got it. “Call meeee” he said with excitement. I sang the chorus of Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” and asked him “Is that what you meant?” He replied with a simple “uh huh.” Now, not everyone would understand that but I figured it was worth a shot considering I had no clue why he would be saying “call me” a million times over. Sometimes my motherly instinct is just spot on. There is so much more I want to share but I don’t want the point of this story to be overlooked. Country music is special, so special that it can take a three year olds brain and somehow make it work correctly. Now don’t get me wrong, music is not the only reason my son can speak. Obviously, speech therapy twice a week is a huge contributor. Also, special ed pre-k has been a success so far. I do think country music is what motivates my son to speak, because he enjoys it. Five years from now this genre will be no more. Pop/rock/country will all be in one genre. We won’t be able to tell the difference in our radio stations. It’s so important to keep country music alive. I don’t think we realize how important words are, until we see someone who can’t use them.
They say early exposure to music helps the language area of the brain develop. My son is living proof of that. His connection to music is something that can’t be explained. Country music is real stories. Stories of love, heartache, death and pride. Stories about making memories and sharing good times. We have came a long way in our son’s diagnosis. Our journey has really just begun. Six months ago we had little faith he would ever speak in full sentences. Today, he has about fifteen to twenty words (mostly song lyrics.) It’s up to us; the country music fans, the writers, the singers and country radio. Save country music.
To learn more about Apraxia and how you can help children just like Kierce please visit www.apraxia-kids.org
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