Archive for the ‘Elliot’ Category

Shhhhhh

Two days ago Elliot looked at me and put his little finger against his pursed lips and said, “Shhhhhhhhh.”

If your kid doesn’t have a speech delay, I can see how this would not seem like news. But for a word/sign/whatever to bust out of nowhere is kind of thrilling. It was clear as a bell! And, bizarrely, not anything I can recall any of us saying regularly much less trying to teach him.

He spent the next few hours shusshing all and sundry. And then… never did it again. Won’t do it.

He’s gaslighting me. (Yes, I am Ingrid Bergman in this scenario.)

A few months ago he spent a few hours calling me “Mamamama” (close enough). And never did it again.

He’s Charles Boyer, y’all.

Elliot does have a consistent and excellent roar. It’s multi-syllabic, contains lots of vowel combinations and changes in intonation. He uses it to indicate: dinosaurs, bears, dragons, all big cats, chameleons, lizards, spiders and the waitress we had last weekend with the huge, curly hair.

His speech therapist said today that his eye contact and response to his name is much better. He’s getting more comfortable with her. He’s also clearly getting more comfortable with the very kind therapy assistant because he was just full of “No” (verbal) and “Won’t” (implied) today. She was the picture of patience and did not put him upside down in a bucket, which was my inclination.

At the Start

We were back at the language lab on Thursday. We had a chance to review the evaluation with his speech therapist. She stood firm on the “below first percentile” bit. Before I even got a chance to ask, she answered the only question that really matters to me right now. “I still consider us to be in the diagnostic phase.”

I didn’t know it until I heard it, but that was exactly what I wanted.

Of course I want to know WHY. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?! More, though, I want to be sure Elliot is given a lot of careful consideration, rather than just run through a battery of tests and pasted with a label. There are general truths, and there is my individual kid. (Who can certainly communicate he hates the shower his father is giving him at the moment.)

I think this is the right time to get down where we are, before my memory of the details gets hazy and my horrendous sense of time starts me down the road of, “Wait, did he start talking before or after prom?”

I looked at his chart at the lab. It says he has the receptive language of a 9-month-old and expressive of a 6-month-old. This isn’t right. I can’t totally deny denial. And I appreciate being called out on it. But he is not that delayed. His therapist did agree that he was much more communicative that day, and that some of his results come from non-compliance with the test. Which were administered by strangers in a strange place. Non-compliance comes up quite a bit in little Elli’s reports. If there are any parents of highly compliant 18-month-old babies out there, please speak up. I would like to meet you and shake your hand. I also might let the air out of your tires. But in a really admiring way.

So, eye contact was much better. I was glad to hear that, as I’d spent a good part of Wednesday staring him down like a snake charmer. Trying to gauge, you know.

I know he knows his name. Whether he will always answer to it or not is different. I guess we will have to measure that with the “Is Your Baby Being a Jerk?” test.

A few outlying details I want to capture:
— Elliot has some minor sensory issues. They all relate to his feet. He’ll eat anything. He’ll stick his hands in anything. He did not, however, like walking on a soft-surface playground that undulated a little bit. Moreso he did not like walking on a highly polished marble floor in a hotel we visited. The biggest reaction, though, was to sand. He could not tolerate on toe touching one grain of sand on the beach.
— He’s lost a few words. Overall his vocabulary is slowly growing, but he stopped saying “woof woof” when he saw a dog. That has reemerged recently. He said “boon” for balloon for at least a week around his birthday, and then stopped saying it. The therapist got him to say “boon” once on Thursday, which caused me to furiously whack Damon on the leg in excitement.
— As far as he can be tested (He’s non-compliant, you know) his hearing is fine. The pediatric ENT wants to measure a few more tones when he’s around two. But what we can know at this point is all coming up fine.
— He uses “look!” compulsively. It was his first word, learned after a week of “Look! Fireworks! Look! Mickey Mouse!” at Disney World. We were so charmed. Little did we know how often we’d get to hear it. He says it 100 times a day. You can hear it in the last video I posted of him. It’s super cute and strange.

Elliot is super cute and strange. Like every other parent of a kid with an “issue,” I don’t want that issue to define him. What I’m writing about makes up such a fractional part of his existence. I’m part of the problem.

And yet, soon I want to write about the most common causes of speech delays and my thoughts on whether any of those things are what we’re facing. Maybe we can start a pool!

I also want to synthesize all the fantastic advice and support that has come in via the link from my friend Katie. She is, as always, using her powers for good. Our good in this case. Her kindness and yours are so appreciated.

My Own Therapy

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Speech Therapy Evaluation

We took a family walk after dinner. Alden lit our way through the twilight with his flashlight. Occassionally I would feel a stab of anxiety and think, “What is that?”

“He exhibited minimal eye contact and did not consistently respond to his name.”

Our neighbor has a new puppy. She was kind enough to suggest we’d be doing the puppy a favor if we let her meet the boys. Delight all around.

“Elliot frequently did not respond.”

Back at home we watched Little Einsteins and raced toy cars. The boys laughed and laughed. So did I, except for when my stomach would suddenly drop a little bit.

“Results of the REEL indicated receptive language at the 2nd percentile with a descriptive rating of poor and expressive language below the 1st percentile with a descriptive rating of very poor.”

Damon and Elliot were just getting started on building a train track when I took Alden down for bed.

“In the initial session, he frequently said ‘look’ but without meaningful intent. He also said ‘ba’ for ball… No other vocalizations or verbalizations were noted during the session.”

Looking back on our walk I realize that Elliot did not make a single sound the whole time.

I dreamed last night that I was watching my boys from the top of a high hill. They ran into the street and I was yelling for someone to get them. No one did, but they still crossed safely to the other side.

Therapy

Elliot’s first speech therapy session was enlightening. Remember when I said I don’t know what he’s supposed to be doing now? Yeah. Lots more than he is. It was the first time I had that moment (that I absolutely knew was coming) of distress and pity for my sweet baby. The two therapists (one a student) showed a real gift for working with little kids. I watched him cheerfully, happily totally fail to understand what they were asking of him. That was hard.

No one can tell me why Elliot’s speech isn’t developing as it should. I don’t even speculate.

Right now he is cocooned in our family. He doesn’t pay any price for his delays. I’m counting on Team Elliot to get his chatter in order before he has any idea there was ever a problem.  There are now four professionals working on this one 30-pound baby. While I don’t care to speculate on the grown-ups’ weight, I have to think that’s a winning ratio.

65%? 70%?

We met Elliot’s lovely home teacher — J — last week. Elli did that thing, you know the one, where your kid makes you look silly and over-reactive. Not just me, right? In fact, he ran around the room saying “Look!” and “Ball!” of course, but also “Hat! Woof woof! Uh oh! Ock! (sock) Uck! (stuck)” So, yeah, he suddenly says many more words than he did during his evaluation. That makes me happy. It also makes me look a little like a developmental Munchausen case. He will also point to eight different body parts (eight more than he did a month ago) and accurately identify various family members when asked. Also new. Best of all, when I say, “Where are your curls, Elliot?” he will run his fingers through his hair.

Rationally, I know he’s doing this all late. And there’s probably something else he should be doing now that he’s not. I just don’t know what that is. I guess I could, I don’t know, do some research. On the internet and all. I seem to have time to update Foursquare, so surely I could do that. His first speech therapy is today. I plan to have him recite the Gettysburg Address and then do the full 7-minute version of Rappers’ Delight.

Seriously though, internet research on your child’s developmental delays: That way madness lies. Who hasn’t started looking for help with a rattly cough and ended bidding tearful goodbyes to friends and family? I’ll dig through the hysterical fear-mongering if I have to, but I’m not there yet.

I don’t know what to think about our little Elli. Other than I like him so much. I’m sure he will reveal himself to us in time.

One on hand, he likes to wear baskets on his head. (Hat! Hat!)

On the other hand, he understands how the milkshake maker works.

I’m pretty sure the basket thing is hereditary, anyway.

Meet My New Office Assistant

Elliot came by today to help me make some programming decisions.