Do you know what a “dee-dee” is?
Well, I do, thanks to my late talking 4 year old. Do you think your child may have a speech delay? I am not talking about the mother of a 8 month old who is listening to all of her friends at a forum list off 80 new words that their 8 month old is saying along with being able to completely recite The Bill of Rights. I am talking about a much older child who should be talking using words and small sentences.
There are many reasons for a speech delay (please check with your pediatrician if you suspect a speech delay so that they can help you determine which one) Autism, hearing loss, something did not form quite right with the tongue…many reasons! But sometimes there is no reason, other than the words just don’t seem to travel correctly from brain to mouth. The child seems to be exceptionally bright, there are just no words. They understand a huge vocabulary from you, just no words of their own.
With Buzz, I noticed it around the 12 month mark. She should have been saying a few words, but it was nothing but garble. I thought perhaps she was just so focused on her physical development that perhaps the words would come soon. By 18 months, I knew we had a problem. Not only was she not saying any words, but her behavior began to go downhill. She became extremely agitated at not being able to communicate her wants, needs and fears. We struggled (I took a lot of Advil) and cried together at not being able to understand what she desperately needed to say. How I longed to hear her say the words “Momma” and “I love you” We took her to get her hearing checked and there were several different diagnosis from that, but basically nothing was wrong. I had her evaluated by the Early Intervention people, but they wanted to label her as Autistic. After reading and researching, I knew she wasn’t autistic. So I scoured the internet for a solution. I came across The Einstein Syndrome by Thomas Sowell.
I looked on the internet and found where the research for this book had taken place and noticed that it was at a University in my town. I called the names credited in the back of the book and finally got an appointment with a speech therapist. After one session with her (and finally someone not telling me she was autistic) I figured out what we were doing wrong and how to correct it. I began paying close attention to her body language that was accompanied by her words and slowly began to decipher her jargon. We relied heavily on pictures and interactive television. Buzz is more of a creative thinker and simple repetition with flash cards was not going to work.
Now at 4 years old, Buzz still has a speech delay and I constantly play the interpreter when she is in a social situation. The greatest improvement that I have noticed is her confidence and patience. I know that the research that I have done and the work we did together has helped her gain this. I know that when she enters school, she will still be behind somewhat; but I know she has the mental skills to help her deal with this. We know she will catch up and as I see her show off new words like “happy” we are getting there. There are days that are frustrating when she wants something and I can’t understand her, but she has the patience of Job and knows if she just keeps trying we will figure out the word together.
The biggest thing that I have taken away from all of this is to never let someone label your child. Don’t let someone (even if they have all the diplomas on the wall) tell you that your child can’t/won’t/or will ever do something. Be your child’s advocate and #1 fan. Trust in what your heart tells you and BELIEVE in your child, no matter what the disability might be. I have learned that her frustration was not a child acting out, but a pathway to learning. I may be teaching her words, but she is teaching me patience and how to be a better mother.
I had to wait until she was almost 3 1/2 before I ever heard “wuv you too” but it wasn’t too late. Not late at all.