Posts Tagged ‘speech’

Next Steps

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

This guy. None of my other children make me want to rip my hair our more than Lincoln. And I don’t think it’s just because he’s the current 2-year-old and 2-year-olds are sort of terrorists.

Linc still struggles with his expressive language skills. He’s had a speech therapist for months now, and has made a lot of progress when it comes to trying to say new words. But for some reason he can’t. Like, he physically struggles to make ANY hard consonant sounds or string words together. “Cereal” is “bee-yo”, even though he can make a “ssssssss” sound separately. “I love you, Mommy” is “Ya. Boo. Mama”, with full sentence breaks between each sound. It makes him completely unintelligible to most people and even I struggle when there aren’t a ton of context clues to help me guess. We had a fight the other day because he yelled “bosh” at me for 20 minutes before I realized he wanted to go play on the “porch”. Did he point at the porch? No. Did he stand in the middle of the room and shout “bosh” louder and louder while I begged him to try a different word? Yes. It can be pretty exhausting.

Right now he is lying across the couch, headbutting me in the ribs because he wants to sit closer to me that is physically possible, hanging off my arm while I type with one hand. I asked him what he was doing and he said “nah-sa”. “Nothing”.

At the end of May, we have a meeting with the transition team at the preschool, to see if they have space for him in their special needs program when he ages out of the state Birth to 3 program. I both really hope he gets in and am super nervous about it. He has gotten a lot out of having a therapist to work with him one-on-one, especially during these past months when a lot of my time has been taken up with a new baby. I am sure his improvements have come from Miss Jill and he’d be even further behind now if it weren’t for her help. But he has so much trouble with his language, I worry about him being away from me. He can’t give me a report of his day, or relay what he’s nervous about, or tell me if someone is mean to him. He won’t be surrounded by people who “speak  Lincoln” and know what he’s trying to say with the nonsense words he uses consistently for other words. Is a teacher going to have time to learn those things? Is he just going to end up more frustrated and having more meltdowns and basically hating everything about school starting at 3 years old? That is not a good start.

Of course, there is also a chance at our meeting the team says: “Sorry, a severe expressive language delay isn’t enough of a problem” and he isn’t accepted into the school at all. Then we’re looking at a whole different set of questions.

I am sure that one day, whether it’s one year or five years from now, Lincoln will talk like everyone else. We are being as proactive as possible to make sure this doesn’t hold him back long term and it seems unlikely a speech delay is a permanent problem. I am looking forward to the day when I can read this post (like SO MANY posts from 5, 6, 8 years ago) and think “Oh man, I totally forgot that was such a huge deal”. Reaching out towards that future helps during the screaming fits and tears and frustration. This too shall pass and one day Lincoln will tell me “I love you, Mom” and sound like a big kid instead of my baby. And I’ll have mixed feelings about that too.

 

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Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

linc by the lake

We took the baby gate down this week, because it doesn’t have much use once the baby can climb over it. He’s almost climbed out of his crib the last two mornings and after nap on Monday. He can get things himself with the Get It Yourself stool, which is much more annoying than it is helpful. Caroline was sickly today and asked if I would go upstairs and get her Baby Jesus and I asked Linc if he could do it. He did. He also brought her favorite blanket down, covered her up and gave her a cuddle.

But Linc still doesn’t talk.

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He had his 18 month check up last week (at 19 months) and the pediatrician referred us to Birth to 3 to have him evaluated. She said he should have at least a few words at this age, even if his receptive language and comprehension is very good. I’ve read differing opinions on whether or not signs count when it comes to language, but even if I include please (which he signs a lot) and all done (which he signs sometimes), his only other words are Dada and Dog. And even those basically sound the same. He won’t say anything on command and he doesn’t even try to repeat things if you say them to him. He mostly grunts.

Up until now his needs and wants have been simple enough that we’re able to guess them. If he leads you to the kitchen, he’s probably hungry and I can offer a few things until he picks one. If he’s crying, we can suggest a cuddle or ask if he has a booboo and he can communicate with head shakes or pointing. But he’s becoming an actual full human person with feelings that are deeper than hungry or tired, and it’s becoming very frustrating for all of us that he has no words to help. I know explaining his frustration with full sentences (“Mother dear, I am just SO famished and that sandwich you made me is not what I want. May I please have an orange instead?”) is not what ANYONE gets from their 19-month-old, but “Orange!” or “Milk!” or “Blankie!” would be nice. I would settle for “Yes” and “No” said with intent.

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Evan was also pretty slow to talk, although he had a lot more signs at this age. Birth to 3 came out and did an evaluation and it was very reassuring, even though they ultimately decided he didn’t qualify for intervention. I’d much rather do that again and have them say “Nah, we think he’ll catch up on his own” or “Let’s not do anything yet but we’ll be back in 3 months to check again” or even “Yes, let’s get him into speech therapy” than do nothing at realize at his 2 year appointment that he STILL isn’t talking at all.

Plus maybe he’ll stop punching me in the face if he can just TELL me he hates me? Because that would honestly be better at this point. Oh, toddlers.

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Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Little Evan speaks his own language. I think it’s almost English but I can’t be sure, since most English speakers seem to have a hard time understanding him. Maybe it’s a NickJunioreese, a crazy mix of Spanish, Chinese, and speech-impedimented English picked up from those damn Wonder Pets.

“Meenah” is lemonade. Unless it means banana. You have to look around for a banana. “Peesdar!” is police car. He can say “car” correctly, but when he sees “flash lights” he gets to excited it comes out as one word. “Brusey” is our dog Brutus. He used to say Brutus until he spent some time with my parent’s dog Hershey, and now he smooshes their names together. “Ditty” is kitty, which is an improvement over the previous pronunciation. “Fall denoun” is fall down, which is so cute I don’t even care that it’s wrong. “Bushit” actually means push it, although I don’t think anyone believes me.

As much as I love that he’s friendly and outgoing and eager to talk to everyone, I’m getting tired of translating everything he says to strangers at the grocery store and strangers at the mall and strangers at the playground and strangers in general. I’m not tired at HIM, I’m tired at OTHER PEOPLE. I can only say “I’m sorry, he’s hard to understand” so many times. And the truth is, it’s more a matter of busy people not paying attention than anything else. See that pinecone he’s holding? Maybe he’s saying “pinecone!” You asked him if Caroline was his sister, maybe “bebeh siher” might mean “baby sister!” Most grown-ups rush in and say “Oh aren’t you handsome! How old are you? Are you a good boy? Bye-bye now!” all in one quick breath and then breeze back out without pausing for a response. Or if they do they’re really asking ME, and wouldn’t even notice if he tried to answer. Evan could say “I’m two, lady, and your wig isn’t fooling anyone” and they’d just coo some more and wander off to finish their shopping.

I’ve been around enough two-and-a-half-year-olds-who-then-grow-into-three-and-a-half-year-olds to know this is just a phase. His brain thinks thoughts he wants to share but his mouth just can’t keep up. He learns a hundred new words a day and can’t keep them all straight. Whole sentences come tumbling out in a jumble and he gets frustrated. He’ll grown into it eventually and the whole world will hear what he has to say Dino Dan and race cars and big diggers and baseball and everything else. He’ll stop saying “More meena peees!” and start saying “Mama, can I have a banana?”

Although yesterday he called me “MOM”. I am not OK with being MOM yet. MOM is for surly, eye-rolling teenagers. So maybe I don’t mind translating just a little longer.

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Situation Normal

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

We had the Birth to 3 people come out for Little Evan’s speech evaluation yesterday. They scheduled it for 1 pm which is an hour past his normal nap time, so when Evan started asking “night night? night night” before noon I knew it was going to be a LOOOONG afternoon. He actually did pretty well, only reaching that crazy level of exhaustion-induced hyperactivity for the last few minutes of the appointment.

Of course, he’s still a toddler, so his general behavior was in the realm of “I DO WHAT I WANT” for the whole hour. After the fourth time he almost hit the therapist in the face with his miniature hockey stick E took it away and an EPIC meltdown ensued – just at the exact moment the evaluator asked “Does he demonstrate appropriate negative emotions?”

Um, is standing in the middle of the kitchen wailing with giant tears running down his face because we took his stick away “appropriate”?

Turns out the answer is YES. BECAUSE HE IS TWO.

The evaluation was actually for all sorts of possible developmental problems, including an early screening for autism spectrum disorders. They brought toys and games and asked him to stack rings and point at items and identify pictures and show off his motor skills. There was one test that involved matching items on little cards (where’s the other spoon? where’s the other dog?) but he was totally over it after less than 30 seconds and ran off to chase the cat. The therapist actually skipped that test completely, because although not being able to focus long enough to participate is unhelpful, it wasn’t a measure of his ability to complete the task and she didn’t want to score him a zero on that one test when he could complete all the others.

The other 50% of the evaluation was questions for me ranging from my pregnancy to how Little Evan handles meeting strangers to what goals we have as a family. (I bombed on that last one BTW. I had no clue. She said some people say to be healthier as a family or to buy a bigger house or maybe a new car. I said “I just want us all to be happy” which makes me sound like a Miss USA contestant.) She asked a series of questions until we reached one where I gave a “wrong” answer, even if it meant going far past the skills they expect a 26 month old to have mastered. Not knowing which answer I was supposed to give made my palms sweat, but both women were so nice and very willing to help me explain and elaborate on my answers until they really understood what Evan’s typical behavior would be.

E came home from work early to be here for the meeting, which was both helpful – when dealing with EPIC TODDLER MELTDOWN – and unhelpful – when the evaluator asked “Does he have trouble separating from mom and dad, even with other familiar adults?”

“Not at all” said I.

“Absolutely” said E.

After a few minutes of clarification and discussion, we decided that we were both right. When we are all at home in the family room and one parent leaves Little Evan will scream and cry and throw a fit because someone is going somewhere and it is probably fun and how DARE they not take him TOO??! But when it comes to allowing another adult to provide for him he doesn’t care at all who it is. He let my father-in-law (who he hadn’t seen in months) put him to bed in an unfamiliar bedroom in Ohio without any problems. He regularly wanders off to the bathroom with my friend Cheri when she takes her son. He will ask anyone who happens to be around for help if he needs it. Apparently a lack of stranger-danger is OK at two, although I am suddenly much more worried about someone snatching him in public because he’d happily go without any protest. We should work on that.

But we WON’T be working with the Birth to 3 people anymore, because after an hour the therapist determined he’s totally normal for a 2 year old and we did not qualify for services. Which is good news. They assured me his vocabulary is fine and that they could understand a lot of what he said and that he had no other signs of any sort of delay. Some of their statistics were really reassuring – the 50 words by 2 is only a general guideline because that’s the point when kids start to put 2 words together and THAT is the real milestone for normal development. Little Evan has recently added “I” in front of most of his statements  – “I slide! I wash! I stink! I fall down!” – so we’ve got 2 work phrases down. They also said a parent should be able to understand 60-70% of their child’s words at this age, which is almost exactly where we are. The speech therapist also confirmed that a child with advanced motor skills (she was REALLY impressed he can hit a ball with a hockey stick with direction) might take longer when it comes to verbal skills. I know it’s something people SAY but to hear it from an expert was nice.

One suggestion from the speech therapist that I really loved was to qualify and expand on the words he does have when he says them. When Evan points at a balloon and says “bah-oon!” instead of just saying “Yes that’s right!” I should say “Yes! That’s a red balloon! A big red balloon!”. I don’t know why I never thought of that on my own, but now I’m going to make a real effort to do it for all his words.

Two more things that made me really happy: First, we’re elligable for a development evaluation every 3 months, so if 12 weeks from now I’m still concerned they will come back and do it again. Second, at no point did they tell me I was over-reacting, concerned for no reason, imagining things or silly. I was actually more afraid of being laughed at than I was they would find something wrong and suggest we start therapy. But this evaluation couldn’t have gone better.

So if you’re wondering if you should mention your developmental concerns to your pediatrician? The answer is YES. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted and I can go back to just enjoying being mom to a toddler.

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