Mar 31, 2012

Comparing My Children

Flipping long post ahead :)
This blog is really the only kind of journal I keep,
so this post is more for me than any of you!

He sure wants to ride Lily's tricycle.
I've been reminded this month how unfair it is of me to compare my littles progress to each other. James is 22 months and I've been quite concerned about his lack of speaking, based only on the fact that Lily spoke so early and so well. I will acknowledge that James has been better at motor skills (opens doors, climbs bookshelves and does other physical activities better than Lily does even now), but I was still worried about his speech. He has always sounded just a bit "deaf" to me. You know how someone who has been deaf their whole life speaks with a certain roundness? James had that same quality in his speaking, even though I know he hears and understands us.

Several months ago we ran into a woman at the McDonald's playland (what a great place to meet new friends, by the way!). She had adopted her 20 month old daughter from Korea. When they brought her home, she spoke no English or Korean (despite having lived in Korea until 14 months). As she started to learn to talk, her mother noticed she was speaking as though she couldn't hear how she sounded (that same "roundness" of speaking that I'd noticed in James). She got her daughter into an early-intervention program and was diagnosed with apraxia of speech. It's similar to dyslexia, where the child can hear and understand, but can't form the words they know (one website describes it as a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to send the proper signals to move the muscles involved in speech). Her daughter's development sounded so similar to James that she gave me the name and number of their early-intervention specialist. I don't know how we even ended up talking about our kids' speech delays, so I'm positive she was prompted by the Lord to say something about it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. After filling out loads of paperwork, countless emails, and phonecalls to establish a need for a specialist to come test James, we had our home visit. I was curious to see how they could diagnose speech problems in a (shy) 21 month old little boy. Three specialists showed up, and as one interacted with James, the other two took notes. Then they'd switch positions so all three had the chance to work one-on-one with him. It was a LONG visit. My first eye-opener came just minutes after they had arrived: Lily was positive these new friends were here for her to entertain and would not get out of their faces. They were very polite about redirecting their attention back to James, and I spent most of the 90 minutes distracting her (and mostly consoling her because she was being ignored). What I saw was how loud and pushy Lily is when it comes to James - she rarely lets him answer questions directed to him, and is constantly speaking "for" him (and quite often incorrectly, as we soon saw).

Now, James is quite a shy little guy. He prefers to sit in my lap during the library's story time, rather than run around with the other kids. I was expecting that shyness to keep him from playing with the specialists and was I ever proven wrong! As soon as he saw that Lily was being corralled, and these guests were for HIM (!), he was such a little ham! He said words I have NEVER heard him say before: after building with legos, he was asked "What is that?" (and after Lily spoke for him and said "a monster"), he said "Boat". WHAT?! He said three-word-sentences (while he has only ever put two words together for us) like "Look, a monster" (at the lego tower Lily was building). Yes, he slurred a little, and said many things that aren't words, but after the evaluation was over, I was assured that while James may be several month behind in his verbal skills, he is also several months advanced in his motor-skills, and that leads the specialists to believe that he's focused all of his energy on motor-skills and will catch up on his verbal skills eventually.

He loves "rock-climbing" and is really good at it!
I'm relieved that he won't need speech therapy, and was so humbled to see how thrilled he was with being given special attention. I can see that I need to be especially vigilant to make sure Lily gives him space to grow into his own person, and I need to nurture those talents in him that he already possesses (one of the specialists said "He is going to be such a jock! Look at him run, jump, kick, and throw! Get him into sports!"). I'm so so thankful for a Heavenly Father who inspires people to help, comfort, and teach us. Even though the information about early intervention didn't end up with us using the service, it was such a comfort to know that it was there if we did need it.

1 comment:

  1. Same exact thing with Chris! He is much less verbal than Aaron and Brian were at his age and I too had him evaluated with the same conclusion reached. He is very physically coordinated and focus his attention on that and since both speech and physical stuff are cognitive skills he didn't qualify for speech services. He is making progress and I just have to try not to compare him to the older 2.
    Good luck! And call me so we can chat about it!