Because none of you live with me. And I tend to assume you do.

June 10, 2011

I need to clarify a few more things about my post on Bella being recommended for speech therapy yesterday, because I don’t want to freak anyone out by not providing all the information on our story. I also want to update you on what I’ve decided for now (Sam has been out of touch for a week with training and will be back tonight so we can talk about it together).

And of course, to thank all of you for the sweet comments, emails, tweets and FB messages with suggestions and just plain love. You guys rock.

So here’s the deal. Sometimes I forget that you all don’t live with me. I mean, I know it (wouldn’t that be horrible in my 2 bed apartment?) but I tend to write as if everyone reading knows *exactly* what I know. And of course you only know parts. Because if I told you everything, the blog posts would be 10-20 pages long.

So as a back-story: It’s not that Bella can’t or never has spoken. She started speaking around 12 months. At the time she could say, “Da, Gida (kitty), Mumum (Mama) and Wasa (what’s that?).” And it was adorable. I think I started to notice around 15/16 months that her vocabulary never really went anywhere past that. When I started hearing about kids around her age asking for things, “Baba, doggie, etc” she never did that. Except for Daddy. She does ask for him.

She can follow almost any direction I give her. Even two step ones. So her hearing is great. She recognizes almost everything. She can point to what she wants. Her small and large motor skills are way beyond her age group, and her Gymboree teacher assured me of that last night.

But I worry because she is frustrated not being able to speak. I see her struggle to make certain sounds. She has never made a hard sound like “c, t” or a more pronounced sound like “l” or “p”. She can do “b, g, d, i (like in kitty), oo, and o.”

Yesterday I started really listening to her and realizing that in 7 months of hearing me say, “Kitty” and her trying to repeat it multiple times a day, she still says, “Gida” and points at them. And no matter how much I’ve emphasized the different sounds, she simply can’t form her mouth to imitate it back to me.

I will take her to see a speech therapist once we get to El Paso. Because like my awesome BlogHer roomie Alena, who also has her daughter in speech therapy, said, “It can’t HURT.” And she’s right – I either will be told she’s fine or that they see a problem and need to work with her. No harm done.

Kim from Baby Feet encouraged me (along with several of you on here) to start sign language with her. I had thought of this several months ago but read that it could actually deter speech. But at Bella’s age, all it will do is reinforce what something is and allow her to tell me what she wants without getting so frustrated all the time.

I started “More” with her because that’s something I say all the time. And used the little yogurt drops to reinforce her using the sign. I did it over and over and over and over – and then showed her how every so often. We did “more” at Gymboree for bouncing, “more” for everything I could think of.

And by jove, if she wasn’t signing “more” by the end of the day – AND SAYING IT.

::HEADEXPLOSION::

It’s still a big struggle for her to say it though. It comes out, “Moe” stretched out as her mouth tries to include the “R” sound.

But it’s a great first step in use being able to communicate in some form with each other.

Now tonight I have to tell Daddy, who I know is going to be sad for her but totally supportive. And today we’re working on more of, well, “more” and starting “eat” while I sign everything in between but don’t have her try to repeat it. Just so I can get used to it.

And for those of you permanently plugged in, yes indeed, there is an app for that. I use Baby Sign Language Basics by Monta Z. Briant – not sure if there is also an Android app but worth a look!

Hope that helps clear some things up, and for those of you in the same boat maybe this gives you some relief and ideas. I’ll be writing on the process as we go along, especially once we get to El Paso. If you want to keep up, I tend to post the short updates on my FB page. Feel free to ask anything you want here/Twitter/FB/email.

17 Comments

  • Suz @ Suz’s Treats

    June 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Good luck & love the new photo!

  • Tracy

    June 10, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    So more stuff for you to chew on…Abby says a lot of words. But you know, the hubs and I are probably the ones who understand them all. She says “moe” for “more.” “all du” for “all done.” “yight” for “light.” “yap” for “lap.” And for the longest time she thought her name was “babby” and she drank “bapple juice.” The hubs would eve say her name slowly…like “AAAABBBBEEE.” And she would say back, “BAAAAABEEEE.” I hear that from so many people. I read about it. they think they are saying it right…over and over…

    And signing is amazing for Abby. Whenever she wants more, she also signs it. That’s how we knew what she wanted b/c she doesn’t really say “more” like we hear it. Same with “all done.” And the funny thing is that she didn’t start saying those two words until she had the signing for the words down pat. She always rubs her right hand on her belly when she says “peeeeessseee” you know, for “please.” signs come with the words for abby. it’s helped her a ton and she gets a big smile on her face when we get what she says. and i wish i could stake claim on this. they do signing with the toddlers at daycare. so yeah, wish i could say it was all me.

    That being said, and this probably being the longest comment I’ve left on your blog (and I probably should have just emailed you) every freaking kid is different. The only thing you can trust is your gut. Your gut will tell you what you need to do. We can offer loads of advice and suggestions and words of wisdom, but you have to do what’s best for you and your family. I heart you momma!

    1. Tracy

      June 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      PS: I heart your new picture!

  • Kelly

    June 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I really hope the speech therapy helps Bella! I can’t believe I didn’t even think to suggest sign language. A friend of mine just got her master’s degree in special education and started working with her speech delayed nephew (3.5 when she started) and within months his vocabulary exploded – it was amazing!

    After reading your post yesterday I started listening to my daughter talk today and while my husband and I can understand her for the most part, I don’t know that she speaks as clearly as she should for her age. She does have a hard time with “l” and “p” and sometimes “y”. Yellow for her is nahnah – it used to be na when she was younger but she now says the two syllables consistently, just can’t say yellow. I’m hoping this is just her doing things in her own time but I’ll be looking into speech therapy if her speech isn’t more clear by her next birthday.

  • Kim

    June 10, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    OK, so, after I throat punch the people who say that sign hinders verbal development, I want to tell you this: I have never met a parent who has told me this. Never. I have never met a parent who has said, “well, we taught her sign and she just didn’t talk! So we stopped signing — you know, *communicating* with her, and just like that *snap* she started talking!” I HAVE, however, talked to and known, personally, numerous parents who taught their children sign as a way to communicate with them BEFORE THEY COULD VERBALIZE. I believe the mouth muscles are some of the last muscles to develop (I’m digging deep into my development classes here) so teaching a child to talk with their hands make sense, since they’ll have control of their hands before their mouths. Also. Have you heard Violet, Sarah and John?? All 3 of them, avid signers. Remember, people used to think Violet was deaf, she signed so much. You’re one of the smartest women I know. You’ve got this.

  • Kate

    June 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    All the other comments are great but I just wanted to add that even if she does test out as “normal” and doesn’t qualify for services you can still do some simple exercises with her to help. When I was working with special needs pre-schoolers there were a bunch of little speech “games” we did with all of the kids and mostly they really liked them. The speech pathologist who does the testing should at least be able to point you in the right direction.

  • Jen

    June 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    PS-I love your new picture 🙂

  • Jen

    June 10, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I think baby sign language is great. My niece was taught several words in sign language very early on, and her speech was never delayed. My son was behind on what was “normal” vocabulary for an 18 month old as well, so he was referred to a speech therapist. He passed his hearing test, and our first visit with the speech therapist was a joke. A joke because he sat there and said every single thing she wanted him to say and said it perfectly. I was like, “What?? He couldn’t even say that in the waiting room!!” I don’t know what happened there, but then I couldn’t keep him quiet 🙂 I agree that a speech therapist visit won’t hurt Bella in any way, and she may end up surprising you with what she CAN say.

  • Alexia

    June 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    If I would have been able to comment from my phone yesterday I would have reiterated what Kim said. That reminds me of the guest post I’ve been meaning to send you for months!! Sign language is really really great for toddlers. We’ve relied heavily on sign language since Cedella was about 9 months old and trying to communicate with us. It helps tremendously with that frustration they get from not being able to be understood. Bella is so incredibly bright I’m confident she will be fine. And like Alena said, a speech therapist can’t hurt if you’re still anxious. Get some Signin’ Time DVDs and have a blast!!

  • Mom on a Line

    June 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Good luck! Signing was such a help for my daughter. We started at 18 months and it eased the stress so much! I can’t even tell you how much easier our lives became. My daughter’s FAVORITE videos in the whole world are “Baby Signing Time” still to this day. I believe signing helped my daughter to learn to communicate at a time when her mouth couldn’t form the words. When she did begin to verbally speak, she exploded and was easily able to catch up. I think a lot of that is related to signing.

    I know other people don’t agree with me, but I’m passionate on this topic. I actually had a huge post on this topic on my blog a month or so ago because I got into it with a speech therapist who told a frustrated mom not to teach her child to sign because it would cause delayed verbal speech. All the mom wanted was her 2 year old to be less frustrated and the speech therapist couldn’t understand why a person wouldn’t only want verbal speech.

    Good luck to you!!!!!

  • Mrs. MidAtlantic

    June 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Have you ever read Kerri’s blog at Chronicles of a Carolina Mama? She’s going through a very similar process with her adorable son, Camden. You might see what she has to say!
    http://kerrilynn1215.blogspot.com/

  • Krista

    June 10, 2011 at 11:31 am

    You’re doing great, Diana. Keep working with her, take her to the speech therapist, see what they say. If nothing else both of those things will make you feel better.

  • molly

    June 10, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Thanks for clarifying. I really truly think you are such a good mama for thinking this through and really paying attention to what’s going on with your daughter. If there is in fact an issue, I have no doubt that you’ll find out the problem and try to resolve it in a timely manner.

    I did want to add this but just keep in mind I didn’t go back and read all the comments on the other post. I am deaf in my right ear and have been from a very young age. My parents didn’t know it but once I started receiving speech therapy that intervention really helped.

    You might have already done this (I am a new reader. Hiiii!) but I recommend getting a hearing test done. I have had to do one every year from the time I was 5-years-old and they are no fun but a necessity in diagnosis. If nothing else it could give you peace of mind.

  • Katrina

    June 10, 2011 at 10:45 am

    You’re totally right, it definitely can’t hurt. And her being frustrated is something that a speech therapist may be able to help. But not being able to correctly pronounce words at her age is definitely normal my nearly two year old says “Biaper” (diaper) “Bup” (cup) “Whease” (please) “Puppy gog” (Puppy dog) and a host of other words that are close but not quite right. And when I try to pronounce them correctly she looks at me like I’ve got two heads…like she’s thinking “Mom, that is what I just said. Why do you keep repeating me?” She does, however, say “cake” “cookie” and “treat” with AMAZING clarity! lol
    I’m wondering if perhaps having daddy gone has slowed speech development a little…something a speech therapist might know and be able to help with!
    And I lived in a very small two bedroom apt with just four people…not fun. I’ll just keep up with the blog instead 🙂

  • Mae

    June 10, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Like you said, it can’t hurt and if there is no problem you’ll be reassured. If there is, you’ll be well within early intervention territory and that’s awesome.

    Rs are very difficult and the significant percentage of children don’t really get them until age 4 or later, according to the speech pathologist I sat next to at a St Patrick’s Day party. Also she said plateau-ing with language skills is developmentally appropriate for toddlers. Then just when they’ve been stuck forever they do something like bust out with full sentences.

    You know, for whatever that’s worth.

  • Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy

    June 10, 2011 at 10:22 am

    He sounds a lot like my son who at 3 was still struggling with 4 or 5 letter sounds which made him nearly unintelligble to those who weren’t familiar with him, or even us if it wasn’t in context. However when they tested him at the school district he didn’t qualify for services, but at 4 years old (with no improvement) he qualified with no problems at all. I’d say there is a possibility she will fall in the normal range still. But if you can get a free evaluation through your school district, or health dept (or military?) then I would do it for sure. I would also continue with the signs because they were huge for us.

    ps i just noticed your blogher badge. I can’t wait to meet you in person!!!!!!

  • R’s Mom

    June 10, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Good luck! The “more” progress is really amazing!

    I haven’t had a chance to read all of the good advice you got yesterday, but a friend of mine took her daughter to speech therapy around the same age. Turned out nothing was really wrong…but my friend felt so much better ruling out anything, and she said that with just a few sessions, her daughter’s speech skills took off…she just needed a little nudge, apparently.

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