Friday, January 4, 2013

the chatterbox that isn't.


Let's talk about this guy.

gorgeous, isn't he?
even with Christmas morning bed-head.
Oak is the most vibrant, social, happy little guy I know.  He is an absolute joy.  Oak walks around the house all day throwing things, singing made-up little ditties, and letting a constant stream of chatter flow forth.

But, see, that chatter and those songs...well, they're not comprised of words.  Pretty much not at all.  In fact, not only are they NOT words, but they're not anything remotely resembling words.  They actually resemble humming more closely than they do words.

At 12 months, I didn't even bat an eye at his non-talking.  At 15 months, I raised an eyebrow, but figured that the words would come.   At 18 months...well, at 18 months, I talked to the doctor.

Now, all three of my other kids were early, voracious talkers (they are my children, after all ;).  By 18 months, they could pretty much communicate anything they needed or wanted to, even if the general populace couldn't understand all their constant chatter.  So, when I finally got my turn on the non-verbal baby train, I simply didn't know what to think.  I didn't know what was normal, what was not normal, what to worry about, what not to worry about, etc.  I asked my facebook chums and they all pretty resoundingly responded not to worry.  But, see, even with their good intentions, I did still worry.  Not because I don't think that some kiddos are just slow talkers and pick it up on their own, like they said, but because of the things between the lines.  Like, "he's just a fourth...just don't pick him up until he says up."  Well...that doesn't really work because not only does Oak not say "up," but he doesn't even say anything remotely resembling up.  When your son doesn't bother even having a noise for his favorite things (balls, car, milk)...then he's not going to bother with "up."

It's just so many things.  He has 4 words (mama, da (dad), miii (mine), and ha (hot), and even those are spoken pretty infrequently (like maybe once a day, twice, tops for mama and hot and much, much less for the other two)He doesn't traditionally babble nearly at all (ba-ba, etc).  When he does make a random babbling noise, he thinks it's more of a joke than a way to communicate and there definitely isn't a sentence structure to it like there should be (one of our biggest concerns).  He also doesn't identify pictures or body parts at all (like pointing them out when asked) (also another big concern).  He only makes one animal noise (ruff ruff for a dog...his favorite animal) and even that's only on a whim.

He's a smart kid, he just doesn't communicate with anything other than pointing or yelling.

Anyway, so, I went to Oak's well-check not sure what to expect.  I had my worries and concerns, but my doctor is pretty laid-back and I didn't figure she'd do much more than tell me to give him time.  Instead, she suggested we contact the county and get him tested (yay! for free services) and see what they say.  She agreed there's always just the chance of it being 4th child syndrome (ie: laziness because big brother or sister will get you what you want), but that it wouldn't hurt to figure things out.  After all, your typical 18 month old is saying 20+ words, a couple of small sentences, and identifying multiple items/body parts...which Oak definitely is not on all counts.

In non-typical government form, things have moved pretty quickly since then (the 11th of December) and we met with two government workers (one was in charge of the paperwork side of things while the other was doing more of the actual testing) yesterday morning (January 3rd).

Overall,  it went really well. Oak was at his very social, happy, non-verbal best, so I feel like they got a true representation of him (the social accuracy was very important to me, in particular, since we're watching closely for autism spectrum). They couldn't get over how social he was as he kept on playing with them and engaging them. We discussed Oak's (non)use of words and the issues with babbling, lack of identifying, etcWe checked for following directions, back and fourth play, and imitating actions, all of which he does to some degree. They got to see, first hand, his humming version of "talking" that he uses constantly.  They noted that it seems like most of his noise-making is more from the back of his throat than with his mouth and tongue, like it should be.

They want me to get his hearing checked, just to know for sure, but we all doubt that's the issue since he responds well to directions. There is a chance that things sound muffled and it's flown under the radar since he doesn't typically have fluid on the ears or any other red flags, and that would lead to a talking issue, obviously.

So, they're planning on setting up speech therapy for him after we get his hearing checked. They said they don't often start this young (he'll be 19 months in a couple of days), but since he (1) seemed very receptive and engaged, he would probably enthusiastically participate with a therapist and (2) there's definitely a real need there. Just the combination of all the things is just not developmentally normal. They say cognitively he's right where he should be and physically he's well beyond where he should be, but he's very, very behind with communication. In fact, he communicates more at the level of a 13 month old.

 He's wants to talk, he tries to talk...but he doesn't even get close.

So, anyway, there's where we're at. We'll be in touch with them in the next couple of weeks and hopefully get the ball rolling.

Until then, I'll just continue to enjoy my happy, joyful little acorn in all his non-verbal glory.

  This is Oak's first official Time Out last month.  He looks so repentant, doesn't he? :P
 Partay in the hooooouse!
For kicks and giggles, feel free to compare with Scarlett's first Time Out found here


Adrienne said...

I wouldn't worry too much about him yet. He a lot like other kids. Your other kids were just big talkers.

Take it from me. Luke didn't talk till two. He qualified for speech school at 3 when i finally tested him. (really liked waiting till at least then.) Totally caught up now.

Jacob talked but could never be understood. Turned out he he fluid behind his ears until he was 4. He started speech at a specific speech school (where I go with him for one hour a week and i LOVE). We put in tubes and he's about caught up.

Jane has big speech issues. she's going to speech school now with me once a week. She started at 3.5.

Dalton is 18 months and only says "ma". I'm already planning on speech since he's a little behind and it tends to run in the family. Plus I'm used to it.

I don't know why all my kids have speech problems. Adam and I didn't. But my advice is to just have fun with them and don't stress. They'll come around. All of my kids have been able to communicate, just not speak. And I really like being involved in the speech teaching. Speech school gives us homework to do every night and it's really helpful.

So anyway, have fun!

Aubrey said...

I could be the voice of doom - honestly, Whit, it sounds a lot like Samuel. I didn't think anything of it because he was a healthy child, developmentally ahead in other areas, and I could usually understand him. I had started doing a little sign language with him just so we could communicate better and he really took that. You know my whole story, in fact I often went to you to know if I should be concerned and you said don't worry. :) It's good advice, because as you know, there's nothing to do until you find out what's going on and then you just do what's necessary. Am I making any sense? Anyway, whatever the outcome it's going to be okay and if you have any questions give me a call. Or no questions at all, just want to chat. :)

Kaui said...

Reading this brought back so many memories! All my kids have had speech therapy. Actually the twins are still receiving speech therapy still. Good for you for being proactive and having him evaluated! There are so many services out there to help children and that parents aren't aware of. I've talked to so many speech therapists over the years and have dealt with speech delayed children that's it practically a way of life for me! We've also made some wonderful friendships with speech therapists over the years that we're still in touch with them today. I guess that would be a bonus!

Megan Tea said...

He is so adorable! I love his time-out face especially in comparison to Scarletts! Kids are so different! Q did speech therapy, and it was such a great experience for us! I hope you have just as good of an experience that you will see quick improvement.

cooper said...

You know my story and all the in's and out's of it... I remember the therapists for Coop often telling me they were so grateful that I had listened to my "Mommy Instincts" and had him in therapy as soon as I did. Being proactive and getting Oakie evaluated isn't going to hurt but only help. So, kudos to you!! It's interesting that the therapists mentioned that he uses the back of his mouth mainly, because that's what Cooper did. They referred to it as "backing". Anyway, give that little bug a kiss from Auntie. I sure miss his cute little face. Good luck with everything here on know I'm only a phone call away!! Love you!!