interpreting is by far the most important skill one needs if one is to understand a child with special needs.

I mentioned a while ago that Laila had encouraged us to enroll Jennifer in something called Startped vest. A group of therapists who deal with children major sensory losses.

Jennifer’s been delegated a therapist and she came down to Stord last week to meet and observe Jennifer.

Whenever we meet a new therapist, the same sentence with large eyes and raised eyebrows repeats itself every time:


Really feel like Jennifer is getting stronger lately
Really feel like Jennifer is getting stronger lately

She observed Jennifer’s assistants and their training, she took a few videos and we sat down for a meeting at the end of the day.

She also showed us a few new tricks, like getting Jennifer to touch her nose, then making Jennifer touch our noses. When she stopped, Jennifer started touching her nose alone.

We observed Jennifer’s facial expressions, while I was certain she was the expert she quickly reminded me that it was Odrun and I who were the key interpreter’s, not her.

We watched the video, I pointed out some of Jennifer’s facial expressions and mentioned that I’m certain Jennifer is not dumb……

“Far from it” she said.

I mentioned that she has a tendency to daydream sometimes, and it seems like you can’t get though to her…..” Of course, she is using a lot more energy to interpret what she’s hearing, she needs to switch off too!


We talked for 2 hours, and again Jennifer’s language came up.

I think when we first mentioned Jennifer saying “mamma”, not many believed us.

I don’t think we believed it ourselves, maybe we, like everyone else were expecting a normal language development.

We, along with Jennifer’s assistants in kindy are certain now, there’s about 4 words used regularly, and they’re all words we’ve focused on saying to Jennifer in specific situations, not only that, she uses those words in the correct situation too!

Below is a video of Jennifer, there’s a clear word said in there, a tip, it’s in english.

Call it a sound, call it a noise, call it what you want……..we call it a word.

I’m convinced Jennifer has the cognitive capacity to produce intellectual words, I’m just not sure if the motor skills will allow her to do so regularly.

got it!
got it!

Training has never been more fun than now, nothing is a problem any more, tears are quickly turned to smiles and I think Jennifer is slowly starting to understand what is expected of her during certain training exercises.

I’m confident in saying that Jennifer will surprise many in the future, and I look forward to seeing that surprise!!


Society would interpret that word as a home for children of whom their parents cannot take care of.

Children so badly damaged that only experts can deal with them.

Maybe 50 years ago, not any more.

Odrun and I have been offered a carer for Jennifer, one weekend every 6 weeks so we can spend time with Emma, visit friends, or just plain sleep and do nothing.

We had to fight and argue for something that’s governed by law but still the council tried to reject it, stating again Jennifer has no need for extra care compared to a healthy child of the same age.

Like fuck she doesn’t, I have both healthy and special needs and can guarantee you that it’s like comparing the sun to the moon.

Ragnhild, Jennifer's assistant at kindy, one of a handfull of people who actually understand her..
Ragnhild, Jennifer’s assistant at kindy, one of a handful of people who actually understand her..

In the end, we were granted kindy and a carer, we lost the battle for an individual plan and other various services that would benefit Jennifer and us.

I doubt we’ll ever get to use the carer in Stord, and we’ll go through the same process in Bergen, but I guess we have the experience now and will know which strings to pull next time.

We can choose between a private home or an institution.

After considering it for a while, we chose the institution.

The utter look of shock on people’s faces when we told them, it was quite a scene.

But the interpretation of the word institution is wrong, we chose the institution for the simple fact there are people there who have experience in interpreting children with special needs, they understand and they’re not alone.

Sure for you with the normal children, there are lots of strange or spastic or weird children there, for us with the special needs child, there’s comfort, there’s experience, there’s understanding and there’s care.

We have a child who is like having a sick child everyday, there’s not many people who could deal with that over an extended period of time.

We have to…….and will continue to do so for a long time yet.

As all parents do, we need a break.

But we’re dependent on a system where money is a priority and interpretation is left up to a person who has no idea what they’re interpreting.


3 thoughts on “Interpretation

  1. I can totally hear the word ‘more’! 🙂 Glad to hear that you are getting some respite for Jennifer, it will be great for all of you and she will no dought be very well looked after! Can’t wait to meet her and the rest of the family when you come to Perth. Xx


    1. Thanks Hanna!
      Good interpreting too!!
      Jennifer will love the time away, I think she’s gotten so used to kindy now that she gets bored very quickly at home!
      And for her the institution is no different than a kindy 🙂


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