This speech thing. It’s really starting to eat at me.
Ollie has a speech delay. It’s true. I hate writing it, because, like I said before, no one expects their child to be less than perfect. But he’s now 27 months old, or 2 years adjusted. He *should* be talking. He should be yammering and jammering up a storm. Telling us that his shirt is blue or that he is hungry. Repeating things he shouldn’t have heard.
But he doesn’t.
He doesn’t even say “mama” consistently.
He looked at Tucker and said “bay-be” three times in two days. Other people heard it; it wasn’t buried in a bunch of other baby jargon. Clear as day, we heard “bay-be” as he looked at Tucker. I thought we were getting somewhere. That was three weeks ago.
He hasn’t said it since.
There are things that worry me about this…
#1 – he never really mimicked. From early on, if I made a noise, he’d smile at the funny sound I made, but never really tried to recreate it himself. He still doesn’t.
#2 – his eating difficulties. He’s finally feeding himself, but still has issues with textures. This I always chalked up to being on a ventilator at birth and is now experiencing a texture aversion. But he was only on a vent for 10 days and that was two years ago now.
#3 – not able (or willing) to recreate a sound on demand, ie: the saying of the syllables “bay” and “be” together, but not continuing to make the sound days later, adding to his vocabulary, or saying it when someone points to Tucker and asks, “who is that?”
#4 – His receptive language is awesome. His list of words he knows is impressive. If you ask, he can point to nearly all his body parts, (even the all important “dupa”) different people in the room, knows the names of his toys (ask him where’s your tractor? He’ll go get his tractor), he will point to objects in every room, knowing the name for each of them.
And then there’s this new word his speech therapist started tossing at me today: Apraxia.
Childhood Apraxia of Speech is, according to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.
A few symptoms of Childhood Apraxia of Speech? Oh, nothing big. Just eating issues, lack of mimicking, an unequal receptive to expressive language ratio, and the inability to form a word.
Pardon my language.
What makes me worry that this isn’t just a speech delay? From the Apraxia Kids website:
In typical speech/language development, the child’s receptive and expressive skills increase together to a large extent. What is often seen in a child with apraxia of speech is a wide gap between their receptive language abilities and expressive abilities. In other words, the child’s ability to understand language (receptive ability) is broadly within normal limits, but his or her expressive speech is seriously deficient, absent, or severely unclear.
Some more red flags, again from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:
A Very Young Child
- Does not coo or babble as an infant
- First words are late, and they may be missing sounds
- Only a few different consonant and vowel sounds
- Problems combining sounds; may show long pauses between sounds
- May have problems eating
Potential Other Problems
- Delayed language development
- Other expressive language problems like word order confusions and word recall – This Ollie doesn’t seem to do. He learns new words quickly and understands simple requests
- Difficulties with fine motor movement/coordination – His fine motors have always been just fine, too. Not worried about this one.
- Over sensitive (hypersensitive) or under sensitive (hyposensitive) in their mouths (e.g., may not like toothbrushing or crunchy foods, may not be able to identify an object in their mouth through touch)
…and I haven’t even talked about how much he hates his teeth being brushed, have I?
I’m not sure how awesome the internet is. One small word tossed out by his Speech Therapist has me re-googling and finding things that Ollie fits into. It seemed like she was trying out this “Apraxia” thing on me to see
a) if I’d been researching speech delays (I have) and
b) how I’d react to this being tossed out there. She put it on the table for me to chew on by relaying her current Apraxia Kids Success Stories. To me, it felt like she might be preparing me for this bigger diagnosis, but reassuring me that we can work through it.
What sucks is that a few weeks ago, I really did start researching Speech Delays and came across this Apraxia thing on my own. In my head, I checked off those details about Ollie that fit both him and Apraxia. I didn’t mention those warning lights to anyone.
But someone else mentioned them to me.
A trusted professional. Who works with kids like this.
I hate the internet.
I hate playing armchair pediatrician.
I hate that I can’t just enjoy his childhood without looking for things that may be going wrong.
But there are ways to work with a kid with Apraxia. It isn’t like he’ll never talk. Kids with this diagnosis – and Ollie hasn’t been diagnosed with it, but the warning signs are disconcerting – have motor issues, like their brain doesn’t communicate well with the skills that form and use words, if that makes sense. Similar to his Gross Motor Delays, I guess, and we’d have to help that part of him develop…like we have with OT and PT all this time. And there is research that shows that Fish Oil and other supplements can boost that development if it’s lagging.
But he’s a two year old with the communication skills of a 9 month old. He obviously gets frustrated with his inability to talk and throws epic tantrums when it just gets to be too much for him. We’ve been working on signing, to help him communicate his needs with us, until we get his speech jump started and that’s helping.
He can tell us when he’s hungry, needs help, is all done or wants more. But true Ollie-style, it’s just not quite like the other kids.