Monday, January 26, 2009

Wordless Wetzel: Our Tiny Mime

As I alluded to in my she's-two update post, Anna seems to have something funny going on with her speech. Namely, she seems to think it's more fun to not talk. She's big on charades, not so much into speechifying. The question is whether this is something truly wrong with her ability to speak or she is one of those kids just holding back until she can bust out in full-on Shakespearean monologues.

She does communicate. Like crazy. She told me at dinner, using only the word "woof," that she wanted to clean off her tray and get down the big pad of paper with the dog on it and draw. She constantly gestures for things she wants (dance music, basketball) or wants you to do (sit here, draw, put ketchup all over my carrots). She's much more into motions than words--for instance, an O-mouthed silent "blub blub blub" impression means fish or Goldfish crackers. She knows the word well but won't even try to say it. Why should she when she can act it out? It's like living with a tiny mime. Or being trapped inside a game of Guesstures.

I mean, she just started saying no, instead of just shaking her head, about two weeks ago. A toddler who doesn't say no! Well, maybe I should enjoy that while it lasts . . .

It was suspect #3--'that one'!

Her comprehension is even better than her charades ability. You can have a whole conversation with her and she'll nod and make expressions and point to what you're talking about to let you know she's following you. She can point out almost anything you ask her to in her books. She knows a ton of body parts but only says "teeth." She loves animals but prefers to call them by their noises rather than names. And her memory is ridiculous: she'll go find things where she left them ages ago, and yesterday at church she pulled a friend of ours over to a certain spot to do a little pretending game she'd thought was funny--a month ago.

So like most parents, we think our kid is dang smart, but that's also because other people keep saying to us, "She is so smart!" I mean, I think she is too, but I also know she's not saying as much as other people's even younger kids are saying--so it's been a bit of a nagging worry. I know, but . . . why won't you talk, child?!

Still, at Thanksgiving we made a list of all the words she'd said (with meaning and some regularity) it was almost 50, which is about where an 18-24 month old should be, so I decided we could wait until she turned two and see if she would start putting two words together by then. But she hasn't, other than sort of getting lucky a couple times. Of course, she can put two gestures together like nobody's business.

So our pediatrician told us to call Early Intervention for an evaluation and whatever magical powers they possess. Apparently this is all free (well, prepaid through your taxes, thank you) no matter your income and they even come to your house. I should get a call back from them tomorrow to find out more.

As stupid as I know it is, I can't help feeling like maybe I/we should have been or should be doing something more or different. Are we letting her off the hook with her gestures too much? Not enough reading? (Doesn't seem possible.) Too much TV? (Uh, are you counting football?) White noise machine scrambling her brain? (Oops, now my mom's worried about that.)

Or is it in part because she had 9 months in the womb and 7 months in Ethiopia hearing only Amharic, not English?

Or maybe it just is what it is, and worrying about why will not add one hour to my life or one word to her vocabulary. I'm trying to remember that as I wait for the Early Intervention cavalry to arrive. And I'm remembering to be grateful to have access to such a resource here in the U.S.

And I'm enjoying the sweet sounds from downstairs which will all too soon be gone--the beautiful, mysterious poetry of "Dab be! Abb beee! Dabyee abbayae abbyeeeeeeeeee!"


pmfh said...

As a fellow paranoid hypochondriac, I salute you! (Our mother will be so pleased it's contagious...)

It probably just is one of those things, like with The Boy Who Cruises and solid foods, but if the doc thinks it's worth checking out, hey, check it out. And then these experts can tell you you have a brilliant genius child! :O

paige said...

You will be happy with EI and all of the powers they possess, i promise.

After years of providing EI to other people's tots, it was a little challenging to deal with the need for it in tot 1. He wasn't a talker (among other issues) although he was quite clearly the most brilliant boy who ever lived. He was given an apraxia diagnosis (brain can't make the mouth form words, but the words are there) and we started SLP 2x a week. The difference between E's speech at 23 months and E's speech at 27 mos was astounding. Moreover, he LOVED Anne with a mad hot passion. She was his absolute favorite therapist. Lots of work through lots of play is really the crux of EI. Even the evaluation should be play-based. Anna will love it, so will you, really!

Marc and Gretchen said...

My nephew went to speech - he was in the same boat, although he knew even less words than Anna at her age. And now you can't shut him up! :)

Anonymous said...

None of my kindergarteners has any difficulty forming loud, long, lovely sentences! You & Aaron are doing EVERYTHING fine!! Too much reading--no way!! She hardly saw TV for a year! Her vocab and comprehennsion are off the chart! She will soon speak profoundly and profusely and you'll look back and laugh!

Anonymous said...

good for you for getting an evaluations. can't hurt, and - if needed - can certainly help! she's clearly a smarty-pants, so I'm sure she'll be speaking volumes soon...

Oh, and Paige is a genius and an awesome resource on all things EI. I would just do whatever she says. :-)

paige said...

That habesha child,

I like the way she thinks!

The Six of Us said...

You are too smart to buy into all that "white noise, educational cd, make your baby smart" stuff. I am sure she is just fine. But I love how you can make your posts so interesting on subjects such as these.

I had a speech therapist from our church come and evaluate my three year old (who still needs a translator when speaking to adults who don't know him). She explained so many things to me and it turns out that his tongue just isn't strong. I have to do tongue exercises with him. It is pretty funny. She compared speech to playing ball...some kids are just a little uncoordinated and need someone to kick the ball around with them a little more.
However, with two babies and a home schooled kindergartner, I think I may call EI as well.

Pulaski said...

We have a child who "moos" a lot. At random times she starts mooing.

WMW said...

Ours barks/howls. A lot. Like anytime anything to do with dogs comes to her mind, apparently!