I’ve fielded some questions recently about how Nathan’s speech is doing and if I’ve seen any improvements. For those of you just tuning in, at his 18 month appointment, his pediatrician diagnosed him with a speech delay and referred him to a hearing specialist. He had a hearing test which concluded that his hearing was normal and that he should see a speech therapist. After much blaming myself for letting the Sopranos play in the background during his infancy and other instances of freaking the living hell out, the speech therapy appointment came and we decided not to go.
I’ve replayed those days in my mind and sometimes I’m angry that I did not fight for my son. I’m angry that I let an asshat doctor tell me that something was wrong with my child when I didn’t believe there was. I’m angry that I didn’t yell at the audiologist when she shrugged off my idea that Nathan would just talk on his own time.
I don’t mean that these services like speech therapy don’t have a legitimate place. I know they can be wonderful means to help children and parents. I have a problem with a doctor who spent less than 15 minutes with my son telling me how my child is going to live the rest of his life, the kinds of problems he’ll have because he didn’t say three-word sentences like his chart instructed. I also have a problem with the way children are compared, with the “he should be doing X by now and if he isn’t, YOU ARE A BAD MOTHER.”
I didn’t go to medical school. I’ve never won a game of Operation. I don’t know all the names of bones or muscles, but I know this: Nathan will always be behind other kids. Other children will be able to grasp abstract problems before he does. They will be hold conversations, tie their own shoelaces and use chopsticks skillfully. He will also be ahead of other children. He will be able to tell jokes before other kids do; he will be able to run and point and laugh before other children his age gain the ability. THAT’S LIFE, DR. ASSHAT.
Also, I don’t know what courses are offered in medical school, but I hope they start giving a class on, “HOW NOT TO BE AN DOUCHE-NOZZLE TO A NEW MOTHER.”
Since the hoopla, I’ve had a hawk-eye watch on Nathan. I haven’t kept a written record, just a mental catalogue of, “Hey, he’s never said that word before.” Nathan’s now 29-months-old and I hear him every day talking more, emerging from a baby-talk shell into actual words and questions. He’s constantly asking, “Um, Mom? Wut’s disss?”
When we read to him every day, we enunciate all the words. Sometimes I’ll repeat words into the Double Gulp Mike got from 7-11 which is more bucket than cup. I’ll pass the plastic cup to him and he’ll repeat that words I just bleeted, laughing at the way his voice echoes in his hands.
We are also big fans of the PBS show, SUPER WHY! This has been the greatest show for Nathan (unlike grating shows like Calliou in which I have hatred for a four year old WHO IS A CARTOON). After watching each episode, he’s excited and verbal, repeating all the vowel sounds. And during the show, he’ll point out letters and their corresponding sounds, like when he saw the letter “t” and shrieked, “Teeee! Teeeee! Tuh-tuh!”
I know this is an ongoing process, that his language will develop on its own, whatever pace that is. In the meantime, I will enjoy the way my beautiful boy fills our life with sound.