Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Not speaking in tongues

As I said previously, Baby E is talking much more frequently now. He is still difficult to interpret since missing the first sounds means that most words rhyme and the listener needs to detect a lot through context. But he is nevertheless an entertaining 2 year old! For example, last night he said emphatically "I not a sausage. I a E!" His favorite word is all his own: "hoopaberry." We are not sure what this word really means or which word he was trying to say originally, but he uses it incessantly, as a joke, as a funny insult ("You are a hoopaberry, Mommy!"), or as part of the little songs he is always inventing.

And he's quick, too. The other day, the boys and I were driving home from somewhere and J was asking me to name all the different types of tanks there are. This line of conversation came from an earlier day when the husband had been talking to J about driving a big tank and J finally said in deep consternation "What do you do with all the fish while you're driving the tank?!" So we had to discuss the difference between a fish tank and a military tank and now J was following up. So I started to list tanks: a fish tank...a military tank...a gas tank...a lobster tank, etc., etc., when from behind me, I hear Baby E say in exactly my tone of voice "a beeboppy tank...." Of course, a beeboppy tank. How could I forget?

Mostly, though, Baby E doesn't have to talk all that much with J around. Sometimes, J talks for both of them: "That was a good snack. We enjoyed it." Sometimes, J is Baby E's cruise director: "E, would you be so kind to get my umbrella without ripping it?" Mainly, however, J is talking enough for both of them and everyone else around them: "Mommy, I'm very sorry to report that right now in my room my fan is making me incredibly hot" and "Oh, I love this airplane from Jack! It is so special and all these cards from all my playmates and friends. I LOVE them!" And sometimes, still very ocasionally, J and Baby E talk together about something J has initiated. Recently, I heard J ask "E, do you have any food to buy?" Baby E responded enthusiastically "Yes, I do have food to buy. Follow me, J!" as he ran to the basket that holds the play food and picked up a few choices pieces to sell!

For all this communication, however, it has become increasingly clear that something is very wrong with Baby E's speech. We have had him evaluated by a speech and language pathologist, and the results are not good. At best, he has a severe phonological processing disorder. At worst, he has childhood apraxia of speech, though we can't be sure of that diagnosis until he is three years old. The former means lots of therapy and practice; the latter means intensive therapy, continual practice, and, because it is a neurological condition as opposed to a developmental state, a wish and a prayer that all the therapy and practice is actually efficacious and his increasing frustration over not being able to communicate does not lead to additional learning disabilities or disorders that are often part and parcel of an apraxia diagnosis. He may also have a malformation of the palate of some sort, as well as an obvious and pronounced under bite that could be contributing to his pronunciation problems. These may both require surgery but it's to early to be sure about that yet as well.

Regardless, Baby E is going to need speech therapy regularly and will most likely enter into the school system's early childhood preschool and therapy program when he is three in February in hopes of helping him progress as much as possible in the two years before he enters kindergarten. So I will soon be wading into the wonderful world of Individual Education Programs or Individual Family Services Programs (or is it "individualized?" See, I don't even know that yet!) and the bureaucracy of the school services, which looks like it has the power to become a second job! Fun, fun, fun for both of us! (Here he is resting up before all the work he has to do!)

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