22 July 2015

Eleanor's Speech

So I put in a referral to Early On for Eleanor's speech. I was planning to wait until August, maybe September, but I finally just couldn't stand to wait a minute longer. It all struck me in May, just shy of Eleanor's first birthday, when I realized that she only had two words. And one was a sign. She would say, "Bye" and sign "more." That was it. I looked back on the last twelve months of Eleanor's life and realized that she was totally not following a typical development pattern. No "mama," no "dada," no babbling, no repeated syllables "bababababa."

I talked to a couple of friends and family and learned that while Eleanor had fewer words than their kids did at that age, everyone thought I was over-reacting. Everyone's brushing off of my concerns annoyed me, so I talked to a couple of Abigail's speech and developmental therapists and we hashed out a plan. Eleanor was doing a bunch of things I knew from my past with Abigail that indicated that she was learning the purpose of communication: she pointed to things, took turns, imitated actions. Eleanor also seemed to understand what I was saying to her. When I saw the car pull up and said, "Daddy's home!" she looked to the door, for example. And I had no concerns about her hearing. I was advised that if by 15 months, she didn't have 5-10 words, I should call.

Today (at 14 months), she has about a dozen words and signs, but I still couldn't shake the concern that something might be wrong. She still wasn't babbling or saying "Mama" or "Dada." So I made a call and had a nice chat with the services coordinator in my area. I ran through my concerns, Eleanor's strengths and weakness, and her history. And? Eleanor's fine. She's unusual, but she's fine.

It isn't typical that kids don't say their caregiver's name in their first 5-10 words, it isn't typical that kids don't babble or repeat syllables. But it happens, it's like a fringe thing that non-mainstreamers do. So it's unusual, but it's a usual unusual, if that makes any sense. As she talked, I was reminded of the kids in high school who would sit in the back of the classroom in their all-black ensembles. They weren't normal, the goths, but in the world of unusual minorities, they were pretty normal.

It was nice to hear from a professional that everything is fine. Even though I live in Crazy Special Needs World, my life is full of amateur experts, just like everyone else's. Like how there's always someone standing by offering advice when you're pregnant, have a newborn, try to potty train, buy a house, try to loose weight, go grocery shopping, buy new shoes, cross the street - they live in Crazy Special Needs World too and they tell me what to do too, even if they have no special needs experience of their own.

So yes, it appears that Eleanor, despite the fact that she says, "cat," and "plane," and "ilk" and "aww dum," and "sorsie" instead of "mama," is typically nontypical in her own little way.

I wonder if God thinks I'd be totally bored out of my mind if a got a 100% standard issue baby. I guess in truth, I probably would be. Oh well, at least He keeps sending cute ones.

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