Over at 11d, Laura wrote today about What To Do When Your Kid Doesn’t Talk. She begins: “Five years ago, we noticed that Ian was not meeting his speech milestones, and we started down the disability path. Here’s what I’ve learned in the past five years:
- If your child isn’t talking by two, is super picky about food, doesn’t like long sleeve shirts, can’t sit still in nursery school, doesn’t like bright lights or loud sounds, doesn’t respond when a stranger says hi, doesn’t like being touched except by you, walks in circles, spends a lot time doing one thing, doesn’t like getting his hair cut, doesn’t like taking a shower, suddenly starts crying a lot at age two, hums, or can’t run, then go get him/her checked out. If he/she is doing just one of those things, then get him/her checked out.”
D met at least 4 of these criteria as a toddler, and we did get it checked out. We went through the local Child Find (early intervention) program, which was less of a pain in the neck than it was for Laura, but definitely a hassle. And they agreed that he was indeed speech delayed, and qualified for services. (At 2 years 8 months, he had less than 100 words, most of which were monosyllables that only T and I could understand.) So once a week we took him to meet with the speech therapist at the elementary school down the block, and she played some games with him, and taught him to blow bubbles, and when they retested him at the end of the year, he no longer qualified for services. We still don’t know if the therapy did any good, or if he just was on his own timetable, but he never looked back.
The sensory issues took longer to resolve. I’ve installed a WordPress plug-in that identifies related posts from the archives, and when I wrote about snow days last week, it came up with a post from 4 years ago, called simply snow. In it, I wrote:
“Playing with the boys was especially sweet because I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get to do it, at least with D. He has mild sensory issues, and this is the first time that he’s been willing to play in the snow. In the past, he’s totally refused to walk in the snow, even in boots. He liked the idea of snowball fights — but only the throwing part, not the getting hit part. He’s outgrown a lot of his issues — he used to be unwilling to walk on grass — and so I was hopeful that he’d eventually be willing to play in the snow, but I wasn’t sure it would happen. But today, he had a great time, and was even willing to lay down and make snow angels.”
Four years later, those fears seem like a distant memory. He’s been out in the snow this week, climbing in and out of the fort, and eagerly participating in snowball fights. He still hates wearing shirts with collars, and prefers sleeping in his robe to pyjamas, but we can live with that. He’s still a ridiculously picky eater, but doesn’t seem to be wasting away from malnutrition, so we’ve mostly stopped arguing with him about it.
So, what’s the take-away from this? I don’t know. Laura says to go to a pediatric neurologist, but others have commented that the specialists missed their kids’ issues. My kid mostly outgrew his issues; Laura’s kid, who seems to have presented with pretty similar traits, hasn’t (although he’s made a lot of progress). I think this is where I’m supposed to say “trust your gut” but I know that when I was dealing with all of this, I had no idea what my gut was saying. The best I can say is that if you as a parent don’t know what’s right, the “experts” who see your kid for a couple of hours are highly unlikely to know any more.
(Side note: At some point while my blog was down, I read Schuyler’s Monster, which is Rob Rummel-Hudson’s account of his family’s struggles to find out why his daughter couldn’t speak, and then to get her the education and technology (she uses a computer that speaks her words) needed to communicate. It’s a lovely book, scary and sad and loving and hopeful and honest. He also gives some advice similar to Laura’s, especially about networking, the need to fight for services (particularly when they are expensive), and moving to more affluent school districts.)