Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Corners Are Rounded

For nearly a year, I have listened to Speech Delay Stories. I do appreciate each and every one. The one about my friend's son who said to his grandfather, "I can too talk. I just didn't want to." The one about the child who never spoke a word until he spoke in full and eloquent sentences. The ones about the (many) children who spoke their own language until they finally gave it up for the preferred household language at age (pick one): two, three, four.
The one about the child who passed all the hearing tests but was discovered - much later - to be, in fact, 80% deaf. The one about the child diagnosed with autism at age 2 whose diagnosis was retracted four years later when he suddenly started communicating verbally.
Almost all of the stories are about boys, and almost all of them have a turning point in their story; a sudden corner is turned, and lo! The child speaks!
For us? We have been traveling on a more circular road.
Metaphorically speaking, of course.
No corners in sight.
Our circle is full of friendly people though; people who want to talk about his speech delay now that he is taller and it is becoming more obvious. I am fine with talking about it, explaining what he is trying to say, discussing his ABA-based speech therapy, even sharing my concerns that he may have verbal apraxia. (Tune in in a few weeks for the evaluation results!)
  1. "Is there anything else wrong with him?" some of the helpful neighbors say.
  2. "Have you had him looked at by a Real Expert?" says another.
  3. "I think you are overly-concerned. My nephew didn't say a word 'til he was four." I hear frequently.
  4. "Are 'they' sure he isn't autistic?" some ask boldly. None of these people knows him well.
  5. "I dinnet talk til I's four and I's just fine! Whadda you worried about?" Oh. My.

My answers are:
  1. I don't know. Language appears to continue to be the singular delay.
  2. Yes, a few real experts and few times.
  3. Ummkay.
  4. Well, yes actually, 'they' are pretty sure. He has been evaluated three times. He's pretty fucking engaged.
  5. Well, yes you are! That is remarkable!

My thoughts are:
  1. How the fuck do I know? Do I look like I have a crystal ball or something, cheez wiz? Wouldn't we all be so lucky to know if our child will have any learning disabilities or get cancer or become a doctor or live to be nine years old?
  2. Define 'Real Expert', oh challenger of experts and child development. Who the hell are you, anyway?
  3. Oh. Allrighty then. If I had a freaking dollar for every time I heard this story....
  4. Are you checking because you want to know if he has the plague? Because the way you just asked that, one might wonder. Why did you ask that, anyway? What's it to you?
  5. If you say so.

So, while we are completely fine with The Whatever that may lie ahead of us, we would also love to know ASAP if there is any Whatever with which we can help him right away (stay tuned for the 'Don't miss the 'early' in Early Intervention post', coming soon!), and this is why I have been pressing for a speech evaluation with attention to verbal apraxia.
I have been looking wistfully at the children who have found their corners, and occasionally enviously at the parents who cheer them on as they turn them.

Bubbles, plodding along on our hair pullingly frustrating perfectly fine trajectory of great effort and consistent but small steps forward, has not seemingly found his corner. Or at least, not one that he has been willing to turn.
He has, however, been trying very hard. And he is extremely charming and the master of multi-use communication, so his lack of comprehensible words has not set him back beyond his own compensation skills thus far. Seriously, he has charmed the pants off of a few daddies (he loves the daddies)(but not 'charmed the pants off of' literally because that would be insidiously wrong), nearly getting himself adopted at a recent zoo trip (Oh hi! A dadda! Not my dadda but whatever. A dadda! Bye-bye, Mama!) and manages to make friends in any group or age group.
But still. How many times each day can I remind my child that there is a 'p' sound in the word, 'open'? How many times must I point out the difference between 'juice' and 'milk', and the necessity to express the preferred one by label? Really, how many? Go on, guess.
At least seventeen, easily. Maybe twenty.

Occasionally there have been the glimpses of a corner; the attempts at more than one-syllable words, the finally deciphered run-on sentences, the oddly refined articulation...
"Whassats I wanna go outtdere." "I un wannit." "SSTTO-O-OPPP" (yelled with the most perfect diction ever)
....and then we just stay right there. Walking around. Circles.

Perhaps two weeks ago, we were on our usual 'walk' around the 'circle' and going through our usual speech inclusion methods with him. Including saying things like: 'OPEN has a 'PUH' SOUND IN IT DUDE! IT'S PUH!', and 'Yes, it says neigh but it is not a neigh. WHAT IS IT?'
And then suddenly we heard something that sounded like 'I want more meat please. I want a fork. Thankyou.'
But since it was in the voice of my currently-mono-syllabic-preferenced toddler and it also sounded more like this...
'I-un-mo-me-meez-I-un-fuk. Akkthu.'
...the first few times, I didn't really believe it at first. But after repeating himself with hand gestures and props, we determined that he was, in fact saying, "I want more meat please. I want a fork. Thank you."

On Saturday I was visiting dear Grace, and just before we had to leave, her husband George arrived home and Bubbles ran right up to hug him; love at first sight. He then got slightly embarrassed and ran to hide behind dear Jen's daughter Willow, grabbed her hand and said to her excitedly, "The daddy! The daddy is over there!" (He really liked Grace before, but suddenly her popularity level soared with the discovery of 'her daddy'.)
I looked at Jen and said, "OHMYGOD DIDYOUHEARTHAT?"
(I would just like to point out that I have absolutely no idea where Bubbles gets his tendency to pioneer his language with run-on sentences.)
She did. She had heard that.

The next day, we were getting ready to make the drive to visit our friends, the Boss of Seattle and her family who have relocated to a California town which begins with the letter 'S'.
We were just about to leave when Bubbles had a meltdown.
He came running into the house and cried. It was at this point that I thought I heard,
"I-un go-go-go..(*sob*sob*)..dadda no-no-no!"
I said, "Umm, excuse me honey. Did you say something? Did you hear something?"
In between sobs, my son said to me,
"I. Wann. Go-go-go. Car. Dadda. Suhd. No-no."
I looked up and dh was in the doorway.
"HOLYCRAP did you hear what he just said?"
He nodded.
"I heard it. He threw a fit when I got him out of the car because he was trying to get buckled up and I told him it was too hot and Mommy wasn't ready to leave yet. He said 'I want to go NOW!'
We looked at the Bubbles, and back at each other.
He said again,
"I. Wann. Go-go-go. Car. Dadda. Said. No-no."

{{ !!! }}

This is the stuff that sentences are made of!

I got the car packed in record time and off we went.

Today, his therapist showed up for their session right after we had arrived home with a new basket of beloved trains from the BOS and her boys. He wasn't ready to shift gears so quickly and had a little cry when he saw therapist S and her box of toys.
He then came to tell me,
"I don unt play. I unt Daddy. I unt choo-choo. I don unt toys."

I don't know if I dare to see it...we both are hesitant...but maybe, just maybe...

...Our corners are a bit rounded?


Anonymous said...

Go, Bubbles!!!! What a turn-around at the end of the post! -Anita R.

AspieMom said...

That's great. How old is he? (I'm new to your blog.) Also, thought I'd mention this book in case you haven't seen it, The Einstein Syndrome. Not sure if it would be relevant, but it's an interesting theory.

mamadaisy said...

oh, i hope so much for you! whether it's THE corner or not, it is certainly fantastic progress you should all be proud of.

Tracey said...

I am TOTALLY grinning over here for you guys!!! That is AWESOME. Just imagine what he'll sound like in a year! AMAZING!!

Lunasea said...

Awww, that's awesome! How exciting - WTG Dude!

For the Long Haul said...

Wow, your post really touched me. I have a son with speech delays and I too and waiting for that proverbial corner to be turned. You expressed so much that I feel in this point. The excitement when your son actually says something that you can understand. And the ever present explaining about the sounds that, yes, DO occur in certain words. I see my son getting better in some ways but in other ways, I feel we are so far from where we need to be. This is such a tough subject to talk about because all parents want--no they KNOW--that their kids are perfect. And just because the rest of the world doesn't understand them? Well that just makes it harder some days. So thank you for writing about this. It made me feel so much better after reading it.

nakedjen said...

so my sister, halfnakedrobin, spoke only "chinese" (that's what we called it) until she was half way through her second attempt at kindergarten. because it was the late 60's/early 70's and our family is and always will be non-traditional and non-conformist and, okay, i'll say it, fucked up and dysfunctional, no one dared to say she was anything but PERFECT.

she just spoke a different language. that no one could possibly comprehend. except her.

i have no idea why i'm telling you all of this, really, except to say that halfnakedrobin has no trouble communicating at all now. and no one intervened on her behalf.

and i have chatted with bubbles. and i know what i think doesn't meant a rat's ass, but i believe he will be absolutely fine. especially since you are providing him with all the tools he could possibly need.

i could absolutely "hear" him in those sentences you just shared. and it brought such joy to my heart.

he's such a joy!

MaryP said...

YAY! I am SO excited! It's only rounded, maybe, and it's only the first corner ... but it's progress, and it's happening.

There may be future hurdles, but this? This is good and I really hope you're just wallowing in it right now!

jenijen said...

you tell 'em, bubbles!


Denise said...

Rock on with your bad self bubbles! So proud of you babe!

Debbie said...

Just catching up after a few much-needed days away. So happy to hear of your little man's achievements. And oh...I love the one about so and so not talking until he was four. That one was my favorite. We missed you this week!

Shannon and Carey said...

yeah Bubbles.
Porter, upon his 2 year well check, said about 4-5 words. Everything was "buh".........So ECI got involved. If I heard another, "Oh he'll talk" or "There's nothing wrong with him, he's smart" I think I was gonna jump off a bridge.
But so proud of my Bubby, he now has about 40 words.
-Shannon in Austin