Learning how to talk.

School is out for summer, Charlie’s name was bumped to the top of the waiting list and our new health insurance actually covers speech therapy.  Everything seemed to fall right into place which means that Charlie is back in speech therapy.

Maybe I should back up a bit.   Charlie had been receiving speech therapy services throughout the school year, implemented by his speech therapist, teacher and classroom aides.  We’ve been pleased with his progress as he met almost all of the speech related goals we had set for him at the beginning of the year.

But he still wasn’t technically speaking

Yet I didn’t want to discount the list of almost 30+ words he did speak, or the 100+ signs he used throughout his day.  {We give thanks for the Signing Time DVD series almost daily.  I can’t sing its praises enough.  Signing has given Charlie *words* and a means to communicate when his voice wasn’t ready.}

But he still wasn’t speaking like an almost four year-old. 

I realize that Charlie has Down syndrome and that speech delays are not only common, but the *norm* for children with an extra 21st chromosome.  However speech is the area *I* struggle with the most.  I didn’t care if Charlie walked when he was 9 months or 5 years, I knew he was eventually going to walk.  The same can’t be said for speech.

And I need my little boy to speak, to tell me about his world.

This doesn’t mean that Charlie has been silent.  Oh no.  Along with his few words and signs, our sweet boy babbles and talks throughout his day with younger brother William.  These two inseparable peas in a pod, speak in a language that only they can understand.  I think it’s somewhat similar to a *twin language.* This is also ironic when you think about it, here I am worried about speech and my two littlest basically *speak* three different languages – sign, twin babble and English.  I wonder if this is a common occurrence between children with Down syndrome and their younger siblings?

Following protocol, we had a speech evaluation to determine if Charlie needed speech therapy services.  As predicted, Charlie spots this evaluation a mile away and refuses to perform.  Who can blame him?  Since he was a three week-old baby, he’s been subjected to countless evaluations and various therapy services.  It was no surprise that his evaluation confirmed the need for additional services.

Before we get into the details of our current speech therapy plan, I’ll let you in on my point of view, which can be boiled down to this:  I would rather be doing anything else than going to a therapy appointment.  Of course we have loved our therapists and all of the many and amazing skills they’ve taught Charlie, but it also reminds me of the foggy part of my life where I toted a colicky baby, a *special needs* toddler and a preschooler from appointment to appointment.  Evaluations, small therapy rooms, goals met, goals missed…you get the idea…happy people, great results…tricky emotions and one overwhelmed and tired mama.

Needless to say, committing to 12 speech therapy sessions was a big deal.

Ironically, before our first session Charlie began speaking and repeating new words consistently.  We’re not talking run-on sentences, but less babble/grunting and more words.  In English.  I have no idea if it was the gummy omega-3 vitamins, school, a younger brother who is speaking more and more each day, or the most likely option; Charlie decided he was ready.

At our first appointment, Charlie happily played with the toys the therapist had out, repeated every word she spoke…he basically put on a performance worth of a standing ovation.  Hey, I was clapping.

So we continue on.  We meet weekly for one hour to work on speaking words unprompted and using signs if the words aren’t there yet.  I’m getting signing lessons too.  At this point we’ve ruled out speech apraxia and any other issues that might hinder his speech.  Is he speaking more as a result of our sessions?  I don’t know, but everyday he is speaking more and I soak up every word.

There you have it.  A Charlie speech up-date.

I’m curious, what has been your experience with speech, speech therapies, signing…etc….

Photos were taken while making chocolate chip cookies with Charlie.  It was his first time to *lick the spoon.*  Needless to say, I think I’ll always have a helper anytime I’m baking.  We were using this recipe which makes the best dough {I heart cookie dough} and good cookies.  But if you’re willing to be patient, these cookies are the best.  Hands down.  My husband and kids *almost* refuse to eat any other cookie I make.

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5 thoughts on “Learning how to talk.

  1. WTG Charlie!!!! Libby, I am SO THERE on the small rooms, endless drives to and fro therapy among countless other appts and kids activities…yuck, yuck and more yuck..I’m one tired Momma..I keep thinking I “need” summer vacation and not the kind where all kids are home all day in 100 degree heat…LOVE the picture of Dad with gloves, hysterical! XO my friend. God is good all the time, isn’t he?

  2. I have to laugh at the “twin speak”. My youngest daughter is 20 mos. Younger than my little girl with ds.(4yrs.). My daughter with ds does speak but certainly not clearly the majority of the time. So many times my daughter with ds tries to say something we just can’t understand. We go through the. “what?”….”what?” with my daughter repeating over and over what she’s trying to say, when finally my youngest will say,” mom…she’s saying xxxx”. It’s gotten to the point where sometimes we will just ask our youngest what our other daughter said. It’s amazing how they learn each other’s language.

  3. Speech is actually the area I am most frustrated with right now. Josh is almost 18 months and has JUST started waving, sort of signing please (if he is helped to get his hand on his chest) and signing baby. ‘We are thrilled, but he is starting to get frustrated. He’s yelling a lot and throwing his toys and just acting out of sorts. We will also start feeding therapy since he’s not eating well (he’s been tube-fed since birth) so I am hoping they can come up with other ways to stimulate his mouth and get those little articulators ready for more babble and eventually speech. That is so cool that Charlie is taking off like he is! Another reminder for us all to be patient and our kids will do what they will when they are good and ready. :)

  4. Hooray for Charlie! Maybe he’ll be willing to give Ainsley a few pointers. Charlie is so adorable in those pics; I think your sous chef is there to say!

  5. Sigh……
    Benjamin turned three on April 24. Verbally (expressive & receptive), he is at about 14 months. He only says about 5-6 words (inconsistently at best, and not very intelligibly), and really only signs about that many. He does not communicate otherwise. He never lets me know when he wants to eat, when he’s tired, or when he wants anything, except to cry or fuss. Add my 15-month to that, and I’ve got two babies. No wonder I’m exhausted.
    And I am *so* with you on how this one bothers me more. I’d rather him not walk yet if he could talk to me. I still LONG to hear “mama” and to know he knows that’s ME.
    Benjamin has gotten ST (in-home, which was wonderful) since about 15 months, but now that he’s school-aged, he only gets it in school, which is out for the summer. So we work on some stuff at home, but it’s so hard.
    I must admit (again) my aching jealousy over how wonderfully your boys get along. I wish Andrew were more like Henry. It seriously breaks my heart that Andrew sees his brothers as a nuisance 99% of the time. :(

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