"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Delayed Speech: I'll make a deal with you

Okay. This post is not supposed to be. I’ve written it twice. And now lost it twice. The first version was, of course, Pulitzer worthy. The second, was close to perfection. I guess we’ll have to see about the third. Assuming I don’t somehow lose it as well.


My son just turned two years old. Not until we moved to Kansas when he was 17 months old did he say "mama." He had occasional words before then. Like "car," but they were never repeated and thus lead me to believe it was some freak occurrence between his lips and tongue while breathing a certain way. Not really talking. Mostly he would just breathe in and out with a lot of expression.

He has a speech therapist now whom he adores. He also has about 30 words and a dozen signs that I think most people could understand. He’s only ever put one two-word phrase together, "Hi Brett," to my husband’s brother last weekend.

I’m not really overly concerned. I’m sure he’ll speak someday. And until then, I can be assured that he’s a genius, silently taking in the world around him and assessing things before he chooses to open his mouth and contribute. My husband read the economist Thomas Sowell’s The Einstein Syndrome, which he wrote about late-talking kids because he had one himself. And Einstein was one. See... genius I tell you. What I gather from this book is that most people will try to put your kid into some category, based on their inability to speak. But it isn’t really an inability, more of a delay.

Everyone has a story to tell about someone they know who was speech delayed. My husband’s 95 year old grandma always tells me about her brother who was three when finally his mother stopped waiting on him hand and foot and he needed to speak and said something along the lines of, "Hey, get me some water." My favorite story of the sort is from Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana. Kimmel relates the following story from her mom's baby book for her:



The last entry is dated four months before my third birthday:

This weekend we went camping. After dinner little Zippy was running in circles around the campfire, drinking from her bottle, and Bob decided she'd had it long enough. He walked over to her and said, "Sweetheart, you're a big girl now, and it's time for you to give up that bottle. I want you to just give it to me, and we're going to throw it in the fire. Okay?" This was met with many protests from Danny and Melinda and me; we all felt that there was no call to take something away from one who has so little. The baby looked at us; back at her dad, and then pulled the bottle out of her mouth with an audible pop, and said, clear as daylight, "I'll make a deal with you." Her first words! Bob didn't hesitate. "What's the deal?" She said, "If you let me keep it, I'll hide it when company comes and I won't tell no-body." He thought about it for just a moment, then shook his head. "Nope. No deal." So she handed over the bottle, and we all stood together while Bob threw it in the fire. It was a little pink bottle, made of plastic. It melted into a pool.

Now that we know she can talk, all I can say is: dear God. Please give that child some hair. Amen.

3 comments:

VAWritingQT said...

Wow-- I feel connected. I work daily with Dawson to get him to say anything. Usually he might say "ba-ba" for bye-bye or "mul" for milk. Usually he has to be prompted for two word phrases like "ma-ma down" or "Kate come". Haven't read The Einstein Syndrome, but Dawson's parents have the book. We have found the Signing Time videos have helped both with signs and with verbalizations. If you haven't seen them yet, I definitely recommend them. They are put together by Lex De Azevedo's two daugthers Rachel De Azevedo Coleman and Emilie De Azavedo Brown (sister's of Julie De Azevedo). They have fun songs, cute cartoon art and Rachel's daughter Leah (deaf) and Emilie's son Alex as the stars. Check them out or visit the Signing Time web site at http://www.signingtime.com .

NKLM said...

How old is Dawson? Is he just speech delayed, or is there more?

We've checked out all the signing time videos from the libary. Both kids love them. A guy from our home stake that Brandon's sister dated is actually married to Emilie De Azevedo Brown.

VAWritingQT said...

Dawson is almost 2-1/2. We just got the confirmed diagnosis of autism. At fifteen months he had said nothing and wasn't playing with toys, just throwing them repeatedly over his baby gate. I have been working with him since August (20 months), at which point he could only make a "sssss" sound when you asked him what a snake said. With speech, occupational, and behavior therapy he is now signing (has about 40 signs), has some word approximations (as in previous post), plays with his toys appropriately, is learning to take turns (saying "tur-tur" and patting his chest trying to sign "my turn"), and is engaging in many more social interactions with those around him, a huge accomplishment for a child with autism. It is in working with him that I started looking for jobs that work with children with autism. The job in Boston is at the New England Center for Children, a school for children with autism and similar disorders. It is really exactly want I want to do, and the benefits with the school a fantastic, including 90% of my masters degree program paid for and taught at the school. I am just waiting to hear. I will definitely talk to Joanna about Boston, especially when I hanker down and really start searching for a place to live.

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