the sound and the furious

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.

pumpkin patch

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  1. I feel you. I hear you. My son is nearly 27 months and doesn’t have clear speech, or even many words at all. While a year ago, I was panicked! about all this … today I am mellow. He’s getting there. He’s just taking his time about it.

  2. dude, that is so awesome. it’s so easy to feel like hey! they’re doctors! they know better! when really, WE often know what’s better for US (and our kids! if i had one).. but it takes a strong person to act on that.

  3. mrs. blogoway says:

    I think the doctors are so afraid of malpractice lawsuits now that they “overcompensate” and prescribe treatments that may or may not be needed. They also are in the business of “finding something wrong” with the patient and then being compensated for that finding.

    I think you did the right thing. He is adorable and finding his own way at his own speed. And what a cute smile! Love the photo.

  4. RJ’s about to turn 7 and his speech is still not at the level of his peers, but his reading and math skills are superior to theirs. Besides, you know our kids are going to be just as awesome as we are =)

  5. grrltraveler says:

    I agree with blogoway… I think most parents WANT to have a doctor find the solution and fix it now. They are scared not to say something and they are scared to say something. šŸ™‚ You just need to believe in yourself that you are doing the right thing… you have that gut feeling…

    I remember taking E to the emergency room when she was sick once. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t an ear infection because the time before that, I’d been a little too laid back about her sickness and was wrong. The doctor mentioned whooping cough (I think it was whooping cough) – that it MIGHT be that and told me I should give her some medicine and I wasn’t convinced that’s what it was. I asked if I could take the medicine home with me instead of him giving it. The next day she was fine without it. I just don’t necessarily think that they always have the best decisions, but they make a decision which is what most people want. I hope that makes sense!

    Your cutie is going to be fine. He’ll be talking and talking and talking before too long and you’ll be like “SHUT UP ALREADY!”… lol


  6. Anonymous says:

    this really touched me today, i happened upon your blog moooonths ago when my child had just hit the 1 year mark and his doctor “tsked” at me because he didn’t have a single word other than “mama” and “dad” that he used regularly. here he is at his 15 month check up and i LIED to his doctor. today we had a play date with a 14 month old girl who’s been walking for a month now, but still wobbles ALL over the place while my child has been walking for months and run circles around her. while she could form “three word sentences” my child can point and say “juice.” i’m not worried, i just know he’s going at his own pace. again, thanks for you blog! it reassured me that my son is n-o-r-m-a-l!

  7. Owen didn’t start using words until about 30 months, August is 24 months and has like 2 words, neither include Mommy the little fucker. Our DR is fine with it, she figures it’s hereditary. After the hell I put myself through with Owen not talking I refuse to get worked up this time. We almost did the speech therapy with Owen and then decided not too, so glad we didn’t.

  8. You’re a great mother! You know what is best for him – you’re educated, you know how to listen to advice and then form your own opinions. Nathan will be fine. He’s a happy, functioning boy and I hope he and my kids will meet one day.

    Jacob has a skin thing that two pediatricians showed no concern for whatsoever – didn’t even try to diagnose. Finally, one doctor cared and referred me to a dermatologist. It turns out that there could have been serious issues surrounding this. Thankfully, Jacob has none. BUT I was pissed at the way the first two just blew it off and didn’t even try to give me a name or an explanation. Yeah, med school needs a class in how to treat parents with concern and respect.

  9. Oh, by the way…I saw your sister yesterday. Well, it’s not like we talked or anything. I mean, she may not have even noticed that I was there – and it’s like she’d know who I was. But I saw her! ha ha!

  10. My Nathan was slow to speak (as you know), and it was not all to do with hearing.

    Shortly before his third birthday he went from two-three word sentences to TALKING NON-STOP. In BIG SENTENCES. ALL THE TIME.

    Your Nathan will be (and is) just fine.

  11. My son was diagnosed with a speech delay when he was two. And it wasn’t just he only said one or two words…he did not speak at all. We did go for the therapy but I think the main reason we did was because our insurance covered all costs and the therapist made house calls. We also taught him sign language to help him communicate. By the time he was three, you could hardly tell that he ever had a problem. So he no longer needed the therapy.
    While I am very happy for you and your son and do think that sometimes doctors can get carried away with diagnosis, in our case, it was the right call. The therapist was able to help my son during a time when I just couldn’t. I had just had my daughter and developed lots of complications from my surgery that really robbed my son of that time where I might have been able to help him on my own.
    Kudos to you for knowing what was right for your family.

  12. thecandyqueen says:

    They do it with pets too, over diagnose that is…So I’m just sayin’ vets do it too. It’s always best to go with your gut.

  13. Mamacita Chilena says:

    I’m glad you’re such a normal mom. It gives me hope for when I have kids that I don’t have to lose all sense of identity and coolness.

    I think you’re doing the right thing with your son — I mean, not that I would know, I don’t have kids or anything. But my brother and I developed so differently and we were both raised by the same people and in the same circumstances less than a year apart, so it just goes to show you that every little brat is different.

    My dad didn’t talk until he was three and then he just started speaking in full sentences with an insane vocabulary, according to my grandma. She never took him to the speech therapist because you just didn’t do that in those days.

  14. I don’t think speech was ever discussed at our 18 month appt for Liam.

    That doctor is whack. Nathan is perfect and brillant.

  15. I’m not a mom or a doctor, but I think people get too freaked out about the talking thing. There are tons of kids who don’t talk for a long time, then suddenly blurt out big sentences and whywhwywhwywwhymamawhy? when they turn 3 or 4. or 6 or 7. everyone takes different times. but i have jsut heard about so many children who don’t speak one or two word phrases “on time” and then blow past the other kids later. he may grasp those abstract concepts before other kids…he maybe just isn’t or can’t express it right now. šŸ™‚
    plus, of course he’s gonna be funny. you’re his mom! and an awesome mom at that.

  16. Butrfly Garden says:

    My [technically step-] brother was almost 3 years old when we started getting visits with him. He did nothing but sit and whine. He couldn’t walk – he couldn’t even crawl correctly, he pulled himself around on his arms or bounced from spot to spot. He could say, “Micdownos” and “BewgahKii” (McD’s and BK) and “Noooo.” But that was it.

    Now he is almost 16. I think sometimes my mom wishes he would go back to the “no talking” thing. šŸ™‚ But really, he turned out just fine. He struggles with his math class and does well with Spanish. Just a normal kid.

    Nathan will be fine. Especially with your love and attention.

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