This kid likes to keep me on my toes. Juuuuuuust when I start thinking Ollie’s never going to do something, he proves me dead wrong.
Walking: When your child is nearing his second birthday and not really caring about walking, you start thinking, Oh, maybe his body just isn’t programmed to walk. I started thinking about things like pediatric walkers or those crutches that kids use and tried to brace myself for the idea that he might always require some help to get him upright and stay upright. And then….he up and walked and my fears were alleviated.
Eating: When your child is gagging and vomiting over a small piece of corn flake when he’s nearly 2 and a half, you start thinking maybe he’s just going to be the kid who can only eat applesauce and yogurt until he realizes chewing isn’t impossible and real food is good. And then….he eats a potato chip and then some macaroni and cheese and then a bowl of Fruity Pebbles and some Ritz crackers and proves me wrong. Again.
Talking: Ollie is nearly 3; when he turns three, he’s booted out of the Birth to Three Program that has given him his various therapies for over two years. Just….booted. From three on, his therapies are taken over by our school district as part of the IDEA Act (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). When the meeting date of our transition meeting was coming up, I bogged down pretty hardcore with the idea that Ollie will be considered “Special Needs” or “Disabled,” just the name of the program that he’s clearly needing help from took me to a strange place that no parent really expects to be. The Official Parent of an Official Special Needs child.
Just the title of the program was enough to send me to my cave to process these new details. I started bracing myself to have the kid that just doesn’t talk. On the day of the meeting, with our school district, our Birth to Three liaison, Ollie and me, I spent the morning trying to work with Ollie to get him to say something that would prove to these ladies — and myself– that my boy is able to talk, but just hasn’t needed to. My efforts were met with more fortitude than a castle wall. Ollie shut down, covered his eyes, communicated in his way that he wasn’t going to say anything that day. Just like every other day.
The meeting ended with Ollie only chirping and peeping in his way that gets his needs met and the ladies all agreeing that he would need to continue Speech Therapy with our school district.
Three days later, as I settled into the idea that he might be the kid who doesn’t talk, he surprised me…AGAIN. As I changed his diaper, I asked him randomly to say Mama. He said “mama.” I asked him to say “Dada,” he surprised me with “dada,” “Moo?” “MmmmmmOooooo” he said. “Cat?” “acat!” he replied. Clear as a bell, he popped them out, grinning at me. Later that day, we got “ARRR” like a pirate and “hi!”
Holy smokes, this was a MAJOR development from just the day before when requests to say words were largely ignored.
In the weeks since, he’s added to his vocabulary of things he’ll say. While driving around, he’s obliged my requests to try to say his alphabet letters. “F” is actually pronounced correctly, “eff;” “T” has a very strong proper T sound. He holds his laminated letters up and chirps to let us know he wants to know what they are. I say “A” he says “A,” he holds up the “B,” he says “bah!” On a day that I’d forgotten we had therapy, I looked at him, said, “Ollie, we have therapy today, doggone it!” He looked at me and said, “Dawg – gone!” and grinned.
My favorite word he says right now is “ball,” he draws out the word in a way, perhaps to make sure we know he’s not saying “bah!” “Buawww” he says.
He’s always been a cautious kid. When he started actually cruising along the furniture, he didn’t really ever let go. A few months passed by with him moving about the house clinging to furniture or buttscooting. The day he actually DID let go was the day he actually walked. He’s sure about his abilities before test driving them, and while I know that’s his MO, that didn’t stop me from getting discouraged about his speech. For a few months now, he’s been sitting with a book, pointing and chirping at the photos wanting to know the name for everything. I called it “collecting” his sounds and words, getting his confidence up to the point where he’d surprise me with a word or two.
Last night, he opened his alphabet book, pointed at an M and said “M.”
That surprised me. And it may have made me cry.