information about communication impairments, see Cherab's
partner informational site, Speechville
Read more about The Late Talker, a new book for families of children who are late to talk.
A Very Tough Year
The question that everyone seems to ask me is how did I know there was a problem at such a young age? My son, Evan, is now 2.8 years old, and is our second child. As an infant, he babbled normally. When Evan didn't have any words by his first birthday, we didn't panic. Our first child, Carly, was born talking and has always been very advanced. We tried not to compare them. When Evan started saying a few words at 15 months, we were thrilled. Those words had simply vanished at 18 months! People tried to tell us that boys talked later, and that Einstein didn't talk until he was 5. I knew in my gut that there was something wrong.
A very dear friend, who also happens to be a Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician, sat down with Evan at a BBQ, and determined that Evan had a severe delay in expressive language, but at 20 months, was at or above his age level in ALL other aspects. He handed me the number for Early Intervention, and the quest for answers began. Early Intervention evaluated Evan at 21 months and determined that his expressive language was at a 15 month level.
We started speech therapy at 22 months. The therapist started with the "withholding" approach. We would model the word "pretzel" and Evan would have to repeat the word to get the pretzel. Evan got so frustrated he kicked me in the shins! He could not imitate a hand motion, let alone a sound. After a week or so, and my refusal to comply, the speech therapist decided to take a different approach. After a month, She had come up with a suggested diagnosis of Apraxia of Speech. I made her spell it, and I hit the Internet before she pulled out of the driveway. After all the research I did, all I could do was cry!
I followed up her diagnosis with a hearing test and a trip to another Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician that my friend had recommended. The diagnosis was confirmed. And so started our journey to remediation. We upped the EI speech therapy to 2 times a week and had an Occupational Therapist evaluate Evan next. We discovered that Evan had Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Just an added bonus! I read on the Apraxia-Kids LISTSERV that it is common for this combination to be present. With the Occupational Therapy in place, we trudged on.
Evan was asked to leave his preschool at 26 months. He had been hitting, or as I called it, "communicating with his hands." The sad part was, that the director's grandson also had apraxia, but still there was no help or compassion, just the easy way out. We replaced preschool with gymnastics and swimming, as the gross motor activities produced the sensory input Evan needed. The hitting continued, but we could never predict when it would happen.
At 30 months we felt that Evan needed more. We added a session of private therapy and temporarily replaced OT with a group speech/OT session given in a preschool environment. Evan's speech exploded! He went from 40 to 100 words/approximations in about 1 month! He also started to combine 2 words, which requires more motor-planning than he had ever been able to accomplish!
Now, at 32 months, Evan is amazing us everyday. He presently has 3 sessions of speech, 1 session of OT, and 2 afternoons with a special education tutor. We have him enrolled in a very small, home-based toddler program, with normally developing children, twice a week, that he absolutely loves! He doesn't seem to be any more aggressive than any other 2-year-old boy in this setting. We had determined that his aggressive behavior gets worse as the number of children increases, so we were careful to select a program that was small enough to meet his needs.
When Evan turns
3 in November, he will attend the preschool disabled program in our school
district. We are hoping that Evan can catch up to his peers and
be mainstreamed by kindergarten, but only time will tell. It has been a very tough year! There were times that I felt like
a shut in, never leaving the house in fear that Evan would hit other kids
in frustration. There were times that I felt that the hitting must
be due to bad parenting. Although I know in my heart we are doing
everything we can for Evan, I can't help but blame myself for some of
the years' events, and for not always having as much patience as I should. And what about the future? The prospects of further learning disabilities,
as stated by the experts' statistics, scare me to death! We will
just have to take it one day at a time!
Since that first meeting, Lisa Geng has approached me in regard to becoming the Secretary. She actually asked me what my credentials were! I told her I had none, but I felt the group was very worthwhile and I would be happy to do it. Since then, I have been caught taking the minutes in crayon! While my original objective for becoming part of the group was totally selfish, this year's roller coaster ride has brought me to a point of wanting to help other parents next in line for the ride. There is so much involved with being a parent of a special needs child, and I hope my experiences and research can be a help to others. Together, we C.A.N. make a difference!
Stacey AbensteinMom to Evan, and Secretary For Children’s Apraxia Network
"I know you can't
hear me ... but I do talk to you.
But, I want you to know, Mom ... I do talk to you."
More about Evan in The Late Talker book
I am sitting here
crying tears of joy! I just had my parent-teacher conference and
it went very well! Evan is progressing beautifully in all areas.
First the OT spoke. She said he had already accomplished all
his yearly goals in just 5 months! His minor sensory issues seem
to be totally