Bubbles has an expressive language delay. Back in November, around his second birthday, I self-referred to our regional center, the early intervention referral center. I mentioned to a few people that I was concerned about his speech; that I knew he was supposed to be using more words at this point, and I wondered if we were dealing with a language delay, or if the delay was pointing to something more serious. Every person I shared this with was incredibly helpful with their comments of how I was 'overreacting', and how they knew a boy that didn't talk until he was (fillintheblank) three, four, two and 1/2, etc....and he turned out just fine, and I should stop worrying, blahblahblah. And so I of course,
A long, long time ago, I was going to college to become an early interventionist. When I was just 18, I made a choice to work with children with cancer through an internship (that I kept for two years). It may not have been a wise choice, because it ended up thoroughly confusing me about my future, and caused many internal struggles that ended up confusing my career path for years to come. But the background (early intervention) is still there, and coming from this perspective, it seemed to me quite negligent if I was able to pinpoint a real delay in my son's development, and then choose not to do anything about it.
Another thing I want to say about this (only because so many people express surprise when I tell them that we self-referred Bubbles for an assessment) is, that most people seem unnecessarily afraid of these services. Afraid of a label? Afraid of being involuntarily recruited into the 'special needs parents club'? Afraid of HELP?
We were fortunate enough to receive EI services with Elijah, and our experience was that this county is well-funded and well informed about the benefits of early intervention, and one would be a fool not to take what they have to offer. When a child turns three, their therapy (if still needed) will not be funded or provied by EI, but a family will then receive an IEP through the county office of education. Most parents should know that services are much harder to receive once in the hands of the impoverished school districts, and even more difficult if the services were not in place prior to age three (through EI). Also, EI is just that: Early Intervention. Why wait until three or four to deal with something that could be addressed at age two? If you know anything at all about a child's brain, you know why these are called the formative years.
So, when Bubbles had about six words at eighteen months, and still about six words at nearly two years, I knew I had to
The good news was that this appears to be a singular delay (he tested at a developmentally appropriate level or above in other areas, including receptive language), and when the delay can be isolated rather than part of a group of symptoms, it usually means that it is just what it is (a language delay), and not a red flag for a more serious delay.
Of course, now that we are working with an ABA program, I have even more judgment to deal with than what I received for merely being concerned about his language development. If I go into detail of his behavioral-based therapy or even mention the term 'ABA', within the moments following, I am sure to be heard saying "No, he is not autistic." Because, invariably, the only people that have heard of ABA, have heard it only when paired with autism and treatment for autism. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)
But oh! People have opinions! That must be shared, and usually with superiority and/or disapproval. While we are home fussing and making a big deal about Bubbles' language delay, fretting and freaking, there are people who are not wasting their time, they are putting brain cells to task with their grave concern over our inappropriate parenting. Because when you tell someone that your child is receiving therapy for their behavior, then the instant interpretation in their brain goes like this: "Behavior therapy=problem! Ohmygod, that woman has a child with a behavior problem. I am so glad that my child does not have a behavior problem."
And interestingly enough, even when you say this to a friend who lets her own toddler get up in the middle of the night and 'have snacks and play for two hours', this same friend will remark about what a good thing it is that you are 'nipping it in the bud'.
So my lesson here is, if I mention that I have a stubborn little two year old (redundant?) with a speech delay, and that we are working with a behavior-based therapy to get him to use language because we have determined that it is more based on his desire and incentive to speak rather than a physical issue (or apraxia), then my child is instantly labeled as a behavior problem.
Wow. If I cared, that might really bother me. It doesn't really bother me, it just slightly ticks me off and makes me file away tiny little petty grudges against these people.
Way more to come about all of this. But I can't spend the entire day blogging. I have to go now and crush my little boy's