Baby Steps, Mom Steps: Giving My Child Words
A couple of months ago I got into a taxi with my son. He was about 21 months old at the time and I had him in a carrier hanging on me. The driver apparently had a son of a similar age and opened up a dialogue with me, asking me questions about how old my son was, etc.
Eventually he asked me if my son was talking at all, as most toddlers have a small vocabulary by the time they reach 18 months. His son, a little over 2 years old, was still not talking. I told him it was funny that he had asked me that, because no, my son was not talking…at all.
My son had no words, and was generally having a problem with communication in any form. He wasn’t pointing or gesturing. He had no verbal approximations for any items. He wasn’t even saying “mama” or “dada.” Naturally, we were concerned. At his 18 month checkup, we spoke to the doctor about it and as luck would have it, our pediatrician is very proactive and up to date on all services available to the children he cares for.
We knew about Early Intervention (EI), but were not familiar with the process or how to go about contacting them. Our doctor gave us all of the information and so, when my son was 18 months and 2 days old, I contacted EI and let the games begin!
Until now, my son had reached every milestone within normal range. With no words at 18 months, he had now “officially” missed one: speech. We thought he was just speech delayed at worst, but there was more. Among other things, he was diagnosed with an overall communication delay, which was the main cause behind most of his tantrums. And as we found out, there were several ways to approach this delay.
The process took about month. We ended up with 4 separate evaluations and were assigned a liaison to work with us. It was all very easy. We received support and reassurance from everyone along the way. In the end, my son now receives 13 hours of therapies a week (3 different types). It was the best decision we could have made for him. At 23 months, he now has a vocabulary, communicates, and the tantrums have decreased in both longevity and in severity.
The services that EI has to offer are all free and available to any child, regardless of the family income. If you suspect that your child has any delays, even a mild one, talk to your doctor. EI has been proven to work. The therapy is usually done in your home or in your child’s school and is usually “play based.” There is nothing that can hurt your child, only help.
Don’t be afraid to speak up for your children. You are their best advocate and you can make a lifelong difference in their lives. We know we did the right thing. By the time our son is ready for kindergarten, all of our therapists have told us that he will likely show no signs of any delays at all. He will grow out of his current diagnosis and be a “normal” kid. And isn’t that really what we all want for our kids?
Lauren is a mom, wife, BornFree Ambassador, and former architect living in New York. She describes herself as being quite a bit like Phoebe from “Friends” with a little Monica thrown in. Her blog “Baby Steps. Mom Steps” will be a regular column on BornFreeMom.com