Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
21-Month Speech Update
Our son is 21-months-old with no progress on speech. He can say one word — Mama — but it’s simply used now to signal distress or a desire. He’s unusually quiet, but a hearing test turned up no problems. It’s a far cry from his sister’s 18-month word list.
He has a short attention span for anything that doesn’t intensely interest him. And, he has difficulty understanding when his actions might hurt someone (such as pulling hair), but he is quick to comfort that person, usually his sister, when she cries.
We’re not too worried about his intelligence. He exhibits great problem solving skills, whether it’s defeating our babyproof door knobs or fishing an unreachable ball from under a futon by lying down, backing in, and pulling it out with his feet. But of course, intelligence has many measures.
The speech issue is huge for us. It’s distressing that he doesn’t have a word for Mom, Dad or Sister. He clearly understands and follows many of the directions we give him, but other times he’s oblivious. I wonder whether he understands why, for example, he receives a time-out.
Our health insurance doesn’t cover developmental delays not caused by a physical injury — almost no US insurance policy does.
Our first, best option of assistance from state-funded specialists failed at 19-months when a speech pathologist assessed him as being at a 15-month level while a developmental specialist said he’s at 6-months. You’d think such a discrepancy between specialists would warrant a third opinion, but not in California.
Meanwhile, our county office of education rightly sees a need to help with speech delays. If they don’t do early intervention, they pay more later when he enters public school and requires extensive attention.
We’ve begun a weekly appointment with a county special education teacher who works with all sorts of childhood issues. A generalist is not what we’re looking for, but it’s free, so we’ll give it a try.
We’re doubling up though. A couple weeks ago we began paying cash for a weekly session with a speech pathologist. The difference between the two forms of assistance is extraordinary. I feel sorry for anyone in our sort of situation who cannot arrange to see a pathologist.
We’ll be teaching him sign language and working on techniques we observe the pathologist using.
There’s no question. My son does have a developmental delay (at best) and the faster we address it, the better off he’ll be over the next few years.
At worst, or at least the worst I can imagine, is speech apraxia, which is a physical/mental disorder preventing speech. My mind turns to that scenario because my son makes almost no sound, no babbling, except when extremely happy or in extreme distress.
We’re hoping our son has just a ‘normal’ delay and will start talking in the next few months. If not, then we hope to have the nature of the problem narrowed down by then.
In the meantime, we’ve filed paperwork contesting the state’s denial of treatment, which we feel was driven more by the state’s fiscal crisis than by the statutes they are required to follow. I don’t expect a positive outcome, but ya gotta try.
Anyhow…. The block building you see in the photo above is a new development last week. Until now, he’s had little interest in any activity that isn’t physical or food-related. We’re delighted to see him be able to sit (or stand) for a few minutes building — not throwing — towers with Mega Bloks. He really is, most of the time, a very happy little boy.
My original point was to just to share the Mega Bloks photo with you. My wife was playing a children’s reggae CD at the time, and I absolutely, positively hate reggae, but my son was softly swaying back-and-forth to the music in the cutest little way.