We would mention it every now and then. It seemed a little strange to us that our son could make so much progress in some things, but not make as much in another. We told ourselves that in time, he’d come around. Secretly, I knew that something was a little off.
During his 15 month appointment, the pediatrician performed her exam. She seemed pleased with the progress he was making. Then, it came. I had to admit that he wasn’t really speaking. No simple words or sounds that resembled words. Lots of gestures. Lots of screams and yells to get our attention. But, no words.
I held in my fear, hoping that she would assure me that in time things would get better. Of course they would. He’s so young and it’s so early. I would keep reading and playing with him. But then, there it was. Fears confirmed.
“Your son should be saying some words by now. He should be using the same sounds to show what he’s trying to say. I believe he may have what they call expressive language delay.”
Although I knew it deep inside, the confirmation stung. Could we have done better? Where did we go wrong ? It didn’t matter, I reassured myself. We will do what what’s necessary.
However, as quick as that confidence came, it did not last. The doctor pulled out a pad of paper.
“I’m referring you to a special program. They will evaluate him at home and advise what you can do at home, or if he needs further therapy.”
She tore the paper from the pad and carefully placed it in my hand. The paper burned through me. I felt heaviness in my chest and my tears welling up in my eyes. A familiar sense of fear and anxiety came rushing through. I failed him. My old Postpartum anxiety seemed to resurface.
By the time I made it to the car, the emotions had taken over. I could not handle this news. I was scared that there was something wrong. I feared that I somehow, I didn’t do enough. Worse, I was afraid that I would not be able to save the situation.
I was so distraught, that I never made it back to work that day. It was a Friday. I cried off and on during the weekend and could not leave my son. I had to make an impromptu therapy appointment to work through my feelings.
It took some time, but I finally left a message for the program. I’m waiting for a call back to schedule the evaluation. In the interim, I have spent everyday trying to engage my son more; singing, dancing, repeating words while we play, and more reading. Once, I thought he said “mama”, and later, “up”. I haven’t heard him repeat it since.
I’m not giving up. I’m not going to let emotions take over this situation. It’s not too late, and there’s so much we can do. I know quite a few boys who were “late talkers”, and they are doing quite well. I have to remind myself that even with this early intervention, my son is thriving and smart. He responds well to our questions and playtime. He is able to gesture to us when he wants something. He’s gotten better at his local play gym. He’s learned to operate doors on his own. He’s made amazing strides and maybe, just maybe he needs a little more time to learn how to express himself. No matter what, it will never affect our bond or what we do to foster his growth.