LM is a very physical child. He’s a runner. He’s a climber. He accomplishes feats of physical strength and flexibility that I didn’t think were possible (like literally walking up a wall – the kid is like a ninja in a martial arts movie). So I thought that maybe that was the reason that he doesn’t say much.
Turns out, it might not be.
He has about 25 or 30 words, most of which are pretty hard to understand. He is prone to tantrums, especially when he can’t tell us what he wants. He communicates by pointing or dragging us to where he wants to go. Requests to “use your words” are met with strong resistance. He doesn’t speak in phrases or sentences. All of these things made me worried.
The first concern with communication delays on any mom’s mind is autism. I don’t think LM is autistic. He’s super social, smiles and laughs, gives hugs and kisses, plays games and is generally engaging. He doesn’t fit that profile.
But something is causing his lack of speech. So our pediatrician recommended we call Early Intervention, which is a state program to evaluate young children and get them help, even before the age of preschool.
Last week a speech therapist and a physical therapist came to our house. They watched LM for about two hours, asked Foggy Daddy and I questions about his behavior, and gave him tasks to do (building with blocks, doing a puzzle, putting a piece of chalk into a bottle and then dumping it out). They then took 15 minutes to decide on their assessment, and told us right then and there if he qualified for services or not.
LM has a definite delay in communication, both expressive and receptive. The receptive part surprised me because I know he can understand what we tell him to do. He just sometimes chooses not to do it. The speech therapist knew this, but had to score him based on what she observed. All his other scores (social, adaptive, motor skills) were fine. They also recommended we have his hearing tested, just to rule that out as a cause.
So I made an appointment with an ENT group that was recommended to me — the practice is not specifically pediatric, but they do test children. We were able to get in quickly, and yesterday had the appointment. I expected him to pass with flying colors.
LM had some fluid behind one of his ears, which hopefully the antibiotics that were prescribed will clear up. But he also failed part of his hearing test — he couldn’t hear quiet, soft sounds. He only responded when they pumped up the volume. The doctor recommended another test that, because he is so young, needs to be done under anesthesia so he will stay still. Anesthesia. Yikes.
The doctor wants to move forward quickly, although we haven’t actually scheduled the procedure yet. After taking to my many Facebook mom groups to ask the advice and experiences of other moms, I wondered if I should get another opinion from a doctor or audiologist who is specifically pediatric. Maybe this doctor was jumping the gun. Or maybe he just recognized that this test will need to be done eventually, and we should do it as soon as possible. Every day, week, month that goes by is time LM is losing more speech development.
I’m not sure what we will do next. Push forward I suppose, but I’m not sure in what direction.
Here’s where I break down.
The tears fell after his Early Intervention evaluation as well. I know logically it is good he is going to get help. But I can’t help feeling that I just want him to be, well, “normal.” It’s not that I will love him any less. And I never want him to feel that he’s “abnormal.” It’s just an emotional feeling that you don’t want your child to be faced with trials in life. You just want them to have it easy.
And selfishly, I want to have it easy too. All these doctors and appointments and phone calls and insurance worries and internet research are giving me flashbacks to my six years of infertility treatments. I don’t want to have to go through that again. I want a break without the worry of medical problems.
This is an emotional reaction.
I will of course do whatever is needed to help my son. I will be strong so he can lean on me and feel supported and loved through whatever challenges he encounters. And I know that this is not the worst medical problem a child could face — not by a long shot. I know all this. But it still feels overwhelming.
Have you encountered any medical issues for your child? How did you handle them?