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Mommy & Equis at 18 months
The thread skims the surface of my skin, plucking the thick hairs from my eyebrow. As I keep my eyes shut against the stinging motion, I hear my son babbling behind me - "Da Dee Aaah Eeeeeee Da Deeeee Buh Buh Brrraaa Eeeeee!"

When the stylist stops moving, I open my eyes to see her looking over at Equis, bemused. "What's he saying?" she asks.

My boyfriend smiles and shakes his head, "I don't know. He has his own language."

Scenarios such as this one have recently become recurring. Equis works very hard to relay information to me in his "language," but I just don't understand him unless he's pulling me towards him or whining while gesturing to an object he wants. Two months ago, I wasn't very much worried about it, although I felt frustrated that he didn't call me Mommy and that a year and a half after giving birth to him, I still had to figure out if his crying meant he needed a diaper change, was hungry or wanted to climb out his crib.

At Equis' last check up, the doctor asked me what words he says. "Daddy and nariz," I responded with pride. "He also copies sounds like the you in I love you." He narrowed his eyes and explained that my son, at 19 months old, is supposed to have at least 15 words and a vocabulary that grows daily. 15 words! I started replaying all the instances in my mind of me asking Equis to pick something up or to sit down and he looking at me blankly. What was I doing wrong?

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Equis in the bookstore.
That day marked the beginning of a series of appointments regarding Equis' development. First, I met with a Health Educator who asked Equis to build blocks on top of one another and to turn a jar upside down to drop a balled up piece of paper into his palm. Then she referred me to the Light House International Early Intervention Center, which provides home services of physical, occupational and speech therapy as well as social work and family training. 

In order to receive any needed services, Equis needed to undergo multidisciplinary evaluations. Within eight days, a service coordinator, special educator, social worker and speech therapist visited Equis to evaluate him through play and ask me repetitive questions. "Did you carry him to term?" "Did you have a natural birth?" "How many words does he say?" "Does he follow simple commands?" "Does he walk on his toes or spin in circles a lot?" "Does he watch TV for long periods of time?" "What does he do when he wants something?" "Does he drool so much that his shirt gets wet?"

At the end of her session with Equis, the special educator wasn't sure if she would recommend a teacher for Equis or not. "I have to calculate my findings," she said. "He doesn't follow simple commands unless you gesture to him what you want him to do. Like even though I showed him how to work the wind-up toy, he just threw it and didn't ask for help. He also flips through a book without looking at the actual pictures. But he's very sociable. I'll let you know." She advised me to buy bubbles to strengthen his low mouth muscle tone - that was why he was drooling so much and probably having trouble forming words.

Meanwhile, friends and family members told me not to give the issue too much thought. "Don't worry, a family friend said. "My daughter didn't speak until she was five; and now she never stops talking." My sister reminded me, "Equis is smart." 

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Hola!
Although these stories and reminders were heartwarming, the professionals' questions had already overwhelmed me and made me ask myself my own questions, "Could Equis' brain have been squished by the suction cup they used to pull him out of me?" "Does my son have a form of autism?" "What am I doing wrong?"

When the speech therapist placed Equis' meaningful word count at zero and his developmental age between nine and twelve months, I hid my face in my hands. I felt responsible for Equis' seven-month developmental delay. I had tried unsuccessfully to remind myself that children develop at different rates and to convince myself I would be fine with this diagnosis, that as long as my son would receive the services he needed, I'd be happy. Yet, the confirmation that Equis needed speech therapy simply made me feel like I didn't play with him enough or talk to him enough or take him to the park enough and guilty for not yet weaning him off the bottle.

"Don't cry," he said, surprised. "90% of children go through this. He'll be fine."

As I write this post, I know it's not true that my son's developmental delay means I'm a bad mom, but I wish I instinctively knew the activities I can do to help him progress. Hopefully, after our meeting with the city, Equis and I will start home sessions with a teacher and speech therapist who will teach me how to do such activities on my own. 

I'll do WHATEVER IT TAKES for my son to call me Mommy.

Check out Baby Center's Warning Signs of a Language/Communication Development Delay

Have you been in a similar position regarding a child's development? How did you cope with these concerns?

 


Comments

Siouxxsie
04/22/2012 1:33pm

First off, definitely keep reminding yourself daily and listening to those people around you that you ARE NOT the problem nor are you a bad mom. It is very obvious that you love Equis and do so much with him and think of him more than you think of yourself on most days. I understand where you are coming from because that's how a loving and good mother thinks when it comes to her child. :0) It's always our fault and there must be more we can do to make our child better. With Skyeler and Patty although they were born a month early and apparently you are supposed to take that into consideration w/development, they were pretty much on par with everything. However, with Jack, he was 6wks early and it took him until he was 18 going on 19 months before he even started trying to walk. He would jibber-jabber a lot, but like Equis he just wasn't that into talking. Both my boys were not big talkers until they hit the later toddler years. I've learned, read and heard that girls tend to develop this skill a lot earlier than boys. Haha! Girls like talking from an early age! Boys and girls do develop differently and I wished more doctors would take that into consideration when evaluating your children. Maybe they do, I don't know for sure and in no way do I want to put any doctor down by any means, but maybe if it wasn't such a 'general rule' of how many words a child should know and so on, we wouldn't stress out so much. I actually know a 4 year old that still can't talk properly and or doesn't really talk much in general and it's a girl so I suppose it's not always boy/girl??? Bottom line, sorry for the rambling and again, just remember what it all comes down to is that you love Equis and whether he can fully communicate this with you or not, he knows how loved he is and he loves you just as much. You are each others worlds and that's what truly matters. Together you two will conquer 'challenges' such as these and move on up! :0) Hang in there!

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04/27/2012 10:09am

Siouxsie, I am grateful for your uplifting words. It's nice to know others can see just how much I care for my son. Thank you, also, for sharing your own experiences of your children's development with me and other readers. I've heard that before about males maturing at a slower rate too. I'm no doctor or scientist so I don't know! But it's helpful to hear about the different rates at which Jack and your twins spoke. As for your comment about the rules: I KNOW, RIGHT! Developmental milestones really do give us reasons to stress when we should probably not be.

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04/27/2012 9:16am

Don't stress about it too much. All kids develop at different rates and it's totally normal for that age- by preschool, you can't tell who was talking up a storm at that age and who only had a word or two.

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04/27/2012 10:04am

Shell, thank you for your encouragement. Words like yours from experienced moms make all the difference. I'm certainly trying to stress about it less and just get Equis the help he needs. Here's to looking forward!

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04/28/2012 2:07pm

I can tell that you love your son so much. It will be a joyous day when he calls you 'Mommy'! I hope all of the services that he receives go smoothly and that you feel better equipped to help him.

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08/18/2012 1:02pm

It truly will be a joyous day when he calls me Mommy. He's said Mama a few times, but it's unclear whether or not he actually means me. He still mostly calls me Daddy as a universal "Hey, you, pay attention to me!" Thanks for visiting, Recovering Supermom!

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David Paulson
07/31/2012 9:33am

Three out of my four kids (1 biological, 2 adopted) got speech therapy. Can you believe that? These difficulties are pretty common. My kids did benefit from this and now their speech is normal. So I would be a little concerned, but no reason to get too anxious yet. Cheers, Dave

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08/18/2012 1:25pm

David, it's definitely helpful to hear about other parents' experiences with their chidlren's developmental delays. I'm glad to hear that these services helped them! Equis has been improving with speech therapy and special education, but he still has a ways to go. He doesn't yet call me Mama, but he says "Uh oh," "Wow," "Bye" and "Yay." Huge improvement according to me!

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inga goldberg
02/28/2013 11:42pm

hi xiomara it has nothing to do with you you are doing everything you can for your handsome little boy. my daughter was diagnosed with global developmental delays . when i herd the diagnosis from developmental pediatrician that my daughter is globaly delayed and is functoning on an 10 month old level when she was 15 month at that time. i just lost it i started to blame my self for whats going on. i got all the servicies that early intervention offers ot pt special intsruction and speech thearapy. my daughter was just like your son babbling and not saying words, as soon as a speech therapist started working with her she started to say words, when she said mommy for the fist time and looked at me i started to cry, right now she started to combine words , the first time i noticed that something was worong when my baby girl wasnt sitting i went to our pediatrician and he said that give her another month and if she want sit by then ill refer her to early intervention. a month passed and she still wasnt sitting . the pediatrician referred us to early intervention. the physical therapist came to the house and special intsructor came to evaluate my daughter after the evaluation the physical therapist said that this child deffinitly need pt servicies. after the pt started working with her she finnaly sat at 10 month. i was so happy to see that but the joy didnt last for long my baby wasnt walking only crowling the whole year she wasnt walking then finally she started to walk a week before her 2nd bday. i was so happy to see that. i know what you going through but things will get better some kids just need extra help

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03/01/2013 2:24am

Inga, thank you for such a heartfelt response to this post! I appreciated reading your story, and it helps to know that you can relate to my experience.

You're right that some kids just need extra help, and it's so important they have the access to Early Intervention services! It turns out my son has verbal apraxia so it's often difficult for him to express what he wants and needs to say. But every day he does and says something new feels like a victory to me.

Thank you so much, again, for sharing your own story with your daughter's development. Your story needs to be heard!

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Angie M.
05/16/2013 11:51am

"The Most Gifted are The Most Misunderstood"


http://www.potentialplusuk.org/file_upload/factsheets/447P65%20Late%20Speech%20and%20Gifted%20Children.pdf


Check out the link above: for i believe it will be somewhat useful. (Babyboy will be just fine. He just chose to hold on to the language of angels for a bit longer than others.) Love you cus :*

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08/13/2013 7:33am

Unclear words said by kids have to be spotted at a very young age. There are many renowned speech therapists who claim to give a hundred percent success rate if the kid is consulted with them at a very young age.

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