Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Gift of Gab

Reed and I headed in to Dr. Hunter's office yesterday morning for his 18 month well-baby check.

His vital statistics...
31 lbs 13 oz
34 1/2 inches
51 1/2 cm head circumference

His weight and height are in the 97th percentiles, and his head... it's big.

He looks great, feels great, is growing better than great, he's great.


He's a bit slow in the language development department.

There are these benchmarks in child development; guidelines that tell doctors and parents if their children are on track or average or where they should be at any given age. At every well-child doctor's appointment, the nurse will ask usually four or five questions that give a general idea of how Reed is developing (like, can he use a spoon? can he stack blocks? can he squat without falling over? can he point to five different body parts? etc etc etc). At his 15-month appointment, Reed was only saying one word: "Mama" (I'm so honored). Typically, children at that age can say about five words. In the last three months, Reed's vocabulary has doubled! He now says "Mama" (and "Mommeee Mommeee Mommeee") and "Dada Dada Dada." YAY! Except...children at his age typically speak between 15 and 20 words.


We knew that Reed wasn't talking. This isn't news to us. (Although having a preacher as a dad and a mom who can babble til she's blue in the face, you wouldn't think he'd have any trouble in this department!) The only thing we have to measure his progress by is Drew (kid isn't even two yet and he's already being compared to his brother...) and Drew was a talkin' machine by one and a half. Reed's primary way of communicating is grabbing my hand, taking me where he wants me to go, and then pointing and grunting. Second and subsequent born children can have a tendency to develop a bit slower in these kinds of things. But, because Reed can only say two words, and because it took almost three months for him to begin to say that second word, he is being referred for a speech evaluation. This is important for a couple of reasons:

1) They will check his hearing to make sure that what he is hearing is clear and crisp. If there is a hearing impairment of some sort causing him to hear things muffled or garbled, he obviously wouldn't be able to form the right words in order to speak them.
2) Intervening early (like now) is important because the inability to communicate leads to frustration. And frustration can lead to behavioral problems. And I'm already well aware that a "normal" three year old has enough behavioral problems on his own!

So I don't know much about what this will entail. I know they will come to our home and meet with us here to evaluate Reed. How they do this, I have no idea. Should he need some kind of early intervention, it will come in the form of some kind of speech therapy.

Huh. Teaching a toddler to talk. Am I sure I really want that??? (reference earlier statement regarding three year old!)


  1. Our Parents as Teacher parent educator has done informal hearing evaluations. They do things like making a soft noise with a toy behind them and seeing if the child turns around. Garret once had a hearing test done at an ENT's office and they did the same basic thing only with much fancier equipment.

    Is he developmentally ahead in any other areas such as gross motor skills? Sometimes kids develop a lot in one area and then fall a bit behind in the other. Then later they switch their focus.

    I remember at Garret's 2 year well-check they were concerned that the only two words he put together were "thank you". And that really doesn't count! :) Alyssa was born three months later and he took a look at her in the hospital and said, "Baby has a hat on." We didn't /do/ anything. His language just exploded!

  2. No, you do not want that! Eighteen months old, and they are already trying to make you worry and think that there is something wrong with your child? Your child is almost certainly perfectly healthy and normal. Unfortunately, doctors are trained to look for deficits and disease. I would look for a more relaxed, natural-minded physician in your place. Interfering in what is a perfectly natural and joyful process for your child can only be detrimental to him, in my opinion. I have four children. They all learned to walk and talk, etc., at very different times, and, guess what? This did not predict their later skills and talents in any way. My oldest walked at nine months, hardly said a word until he was over two years old, and now, and boy does he have the gift of gab at eight years of age! (Without any therapy or other "intervention.") My second didn't walk until 18 months of age, and now, at six years of age, she's an amazing, precocious dancer and yogi. My third was pretty average in both walking and talking; now, at 4 1/2, he's by far the clumsiest for his age and talks with a lisp (which he'll grow out of, of course), although he can ride a bicycle like a demon (no training wheels) and has an incredible vocabulary. Not worried about him, either. My fourth is now 13 months old and still doesn't crawl, but she scoots around on her bottom at warp speed, stands, dances, is potty trained (even at night!), says at least ten words, and is the happiest, funniest baby I've ever seen. Am I worried that she is "behind schedule" in the crawling department? Assuredly not! I should also mention that my two oldest kids are way, way down at the bottom of the weight charts for their age. Am I going to pour PediaSure down their throats (as a friend was advised by her doctor) to bring them closer to the 50th percentile? No way! They are small because their father 's side of the family is Chinese, and Chinese kids are genetically smaller. And far less likely to become obese or overweight at any time in their lives. So there. Anyway, you know when there is truly something to be concerned about in your child's development. Don't let the fear-mongers talk you into thinking that your perfectly healthy child is abnormal in some way. "Average" and "normal" are not at all the same thing.