In a world with so many other writers, vloggers, and creators, finding your voice can be tough. It’s hard to do or say something that stands out among the crowd.
Yet Nathaniel Bruce had to find his voice in a more literal sense. Having developed apraxia, he was unable to speak or make noises for years. Yet now that’s all changing, thanks to the help of a famous musical artist.
When Nathaniel Bruce first attended preschool, he developed a cold which eventually left him mute.
Little Nate was born on February 6, 2013. He was happy, healthy, and meeting his developmental milestones right on time. Eventually, he started making noises, cooing, and saying the word “Boo.” He was growing into a smart boy.
When he was 15 months old, he started attending daycare. There he caught a cold from a fellow kid and ended up getting diagnosed with asthma.
The next few months were a blur for his mother, Jeanine Rainey of the Chicago area. During that time, she had broken up with Nate’s father, attended grad school, taught at a local high school, and looked after her asthmatic child.
With so much on her plate, Rainey didn’t even notice when Nate stopped his “cooing and booing.” Yet, in October 2014, when Nate stopped speaking altogether, she definitely noticed.
As it turned out, that same cold that inflamed Nate’s asthma had left his ears clogged. Nate then received a bilateral tube placement surgery in January 2015.
After the surgery, Nate could hear again. Rainey assumed that he would start talking once more but he couldn’t.
Nate’s mother wanted to know why he wasn’t speaking and found out it was apraxia.
Nate was assigned to the hospital’s speech therapist. That summer, Nate learned how to communicate through sign language, but he still wasn’t talking. In the fall, Rainey went back to work and was unable to take Nate to therapy.
Still worried, Rainey got a social worker for Nate—they found a physician who gave Nate an evaluation. Rainey finally found her answer as to why her son wasn’t speaking: he had developmental apraxia of speech.
While Rainey was glad to know the reason for her son’s behavior, she felt guilty, thinking she had done something wrong.
“Everyday it will rain,” she wrote for Scary Mommy. “I cried. I blamed myself. Was it because of my pregnancy? Did I do something wrong as his mother? I was confused and angry. I was lost.”
Rainey treated Nate’s disorder with speech therapy and, by age 4, he was singing Bruno Mars.
Still, this mother didn’t just spend all of her days moping around. She took a proactive approach, researching apraxia to see what might help little Nate.
She found out that apraxia essentially leaves an area of the body out of sync with the brain. Yet, with early detection and therapy, the body could be put back in sync. It would take a lot of further speech therapy to resolve this issue, but it was possible.
Since Rainey was a teacher and her aunt taught special education, she knew how to get resources to help Nate out. In Spring 2016, he started speech therapy. By 3.5 years old he was able to call Rainey “Mommy,” making her weep with joy.
One unconventional thing that ended up helping Nate out was listening to Bruno Mars songs on the radio. Now, Rainey catches her son singing along to songs like “Uptown Funk” and “That’s What I Like.”
For most parents, their 4-year-old singing along to the radio is nothing spectacular, but Rainey cherishes every song she hears come from little Nate’s mouth. Despite his difficulties, he’s grown in to an expressive, energetic little boy.
“Nothing can stop Nate’s natural swag … music unlocked his voice, and he’s often spotted with headphones and his guitar singing away,” she wrote.
“Nate is well-aware of his apraxia and will wait patiently for others to process what he is saying or repeat himself as often as necessary … I can’t wait for Nate to show the world all he knows … cause [he’s] amazing!”