Well, we went out of town for the 4th weekend and just got back yesterday. Sorry for the lack of posting during our away time, but it was a much needed family vacation. I hope your festivities were as relaxing and exciting as ours.
I have talked about my son's Sensory Processing issues. Now I will talk about the problem that lead us to find that out for him. He is almost 20 months and hasn't said any single words, including 'Mom' or 'Dad.' At first, around 14 or 15 months, I didn't think this was a very big deal. He babbled late, and very seldom, so I knew he would be a late talker, but I expected him to say at least a few words by 18 months. I worked very hard to encourage speech, i.e. making letter sounds together, reading books, singing songs, having one-sided conversations, etc., but it wasn't enough to make up the difference. So, we decided to start early intervention in the hopes that he would learn how to speak a few words to us, easing our (and his) frustration. So far it has helped tremendously, and we have seen improvements even over the last 2 weeks. My son now says two words, "hi" and "more." More is his catch-all word. It means 'please,' 'thank you,' 'again,' 'up,' 'yes,' and 'amen,' for the end of prayers. It sounds like, "UH-MAAAHH." Hi, sounds like "AYE" or sometimes "AHH." While this might seem pretty far from great to you, for my husband and me, it is AMAZING! I cannot even describe to you the thrashing, screeching, screaming, wailing, hitting, kicking tantrums that we had to endure (and still do on occasion) before my son was saying anything. We did try to teach him a few ASL signs so we would have some means of communication. That helped out a lot, but eventually, his mouth was so much further behind his brain, life was too frustrating, so he had to throw a fit. Since we have started using the chew tubes, his behaviour has improved exponentially. What a relief it is!
So, now on to the details of today's Speech Therapy evaluation. We initially decided to go to a speech therapist in the hopes that she would be able to tell us if my son had any anatomical problems within his mouth that might be preventing him from speaking clearly, or at all. We gave her the run down, something that is becoming almost like second nature. "How many single words does he say?" "None." "Does he seem over-interested in his hands, or does he eat non-food objects?" "No. It depends on his mood." You get the idea. It's to the point now where I know exactly what they're asking for, the developmental/behavioral question within the question. Pretty good, huh? After the introductory questions and pleasantries were over we did the next thing that has also become routine. We played with my son, and the speech therapist observed and asked questions. My son did SUCH a good job attending (paying attention to one activity for a long period of time) and communicating with me. It's always a worry as a mother when they're doing this exercise. 'Okay, he's playing and communicating well today, does this disqualify him from getting help he truly might need?' It might sound wrong. Shouldn't I be glad that he doesn't need the services? Yes. I should, but the worry is, was his behavior today typical, and if not, will they take that into consideration when deciding if he needs the services or not? When he had his initial evaluation with the early intervention program, I had the same fears. The good thing about developmental issues with kids is, once you're in with one program, you have a better chance of getting in with another. I can't tell you why this is, but it's something I'm grateful for.
Anyway, so the therapist determined he DOES qualify for speech therapy (hallelujah) and she also said there may be an issue with his frenulum beneath his tongue, (that small strip of tissue that holds your tongue in place). She said it may be a little short, making it difficult for my son to move his tongue to speak or make letter sounds. The fix is a simple 'clipping' of the frenulum. I'm not sure yet if this is a surgery in hospital, or if this could be done in an office setting after administering some anesthetic. We'll find out in 2 weeks when we meet with the new pediatrician who will hopefully be more competent than our current 'resident' physician. I know residents need experience too, but I would rather not have my kids be the guinea pigs. The speech therapist also gave us a questionnaire on sensory processing and depending on the outcome of that, she may recommend occupational therapy for my son as well. If it wasn't copyrighted, I would scan it and provide it here as a resource for my readers. Since I can't let you see it, I have provided yet another web link for you. Maybe I can get it to actually work this time.