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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gut Check

At 18 months old, I expressed my concern to Riley's pediatrician about his language.  I was concerned that he was on the lower end of how many words he should be saying, as well as how he said them.  She told me not to worry, that he would catch up.

I was also concerned since he had a history of ear infections.  His doctor told me that most kids outgrow ear infections by the age of two, so she did not recommend even considering tubes until then.  Despite my concern, I listened to his doctor.  After all, she's the medical professional, right?

I even asked on a parenting forum if I should be concerned, and the general consensus was "He's a boy, he'll catch up", "boys talk later than girls, don't worry, he'll be fine", "my child didn't talk until they were x years old, and now they won't stop".




Everyone, including his pediatrician, said to wait and re-access when he was 2.5 years.  So I did, though I always had that nagging suspision that something wasn't right.

When Riley was 2.5, he had yet another ear infection.  At his appointment, I spoke to his doctor about my continuing concern about his speech.  Again, she responded by telling me that even though he was on the lower end of the number of words he should be saying for his age, he was still in the "normal" range.  That was not what I wanted to hear.  She completely ignored my concern about how he spoke, and the fact that even I could barely understand him.  He talked all the time, we just didn't know what he was saying.  I was constantly translating everything he said, at least the parts I could understand myself, even to Ryan.

If you know Riley, you know just how sweet he is!  He loves to play with other kids, especially older ones.  When we would go to the park or mall play areas, he loved finding new friends.  Most of the time the kids, even older ones, played with him just fine.  But there were many times that the older kids didn't want to play with him because he was a "baby".  Now, when I say "older" kids, I mean kids less than 2 years older than him.  He was 2.5-3 years old, not a baby.  It broke my heart.  Especially since it never phased him.  He is so kind hearted that he didn't realize they were being mean to him.  As he got a little older, it started to effect him more.  He would come tell me, with a sad face, that his friends wouldn't play with him.  What do you say to that?  I would try to encourage him to find another friend if someone wasn't being nice, but it was still hard to watch.

I had enough.  This, along with some other reasons, gave me the reasons I needed to find a new doctor.  In the meantime, though, I looked up the number for Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) and contacted them myself.  No doctor referral needed!  We scheduled an evaluation, and 3 weeks later a Speech Language Pathologist came to "play" with Riley. 

She knew immediately he qualified for services.  She jokingly said "Do we even need to do an evaluation?"  That made me feel so much better, just to have that confirmation that I was right.  That's not the reason I wanted an eval done, to prove I was right.  But it did feel good to know that I made the right decision to leave a doctor who would not listen to my concerns about my child.  I am the parent, after all, and who knows my child better than me?  She told me he had a severe articulation delay, therefore causing an expressive language delay.  Again, that just confirmed what I tried telling his old he said his words was my biggest concern, and that is his main delay.

He was put on a waiting list, since they had so many children needing services at that time.  It was nearly 6 weeks later, in late March of 2010 that Riley started weekly sessions.  The SLP came to our house to work with him.  ECI is a great program, for children ages 0-36 months.  Meaning, when Riley turned 3 years they could no longer help him.  Since he only had a few months with them, ECI helped me through the process of enrolling him with our school district to start ST in the fall.  He again went through an evaluation, as well as a hearing test.  His hearing was normal, no hearing loss despite all of the ear infections he had.

Before the school year ended, we had him set up to start ST in the fall.  He turned 3 over the summer, and so ended his weekly ST sessions.  In June, he had back to back ear infections again, so we were referred (by our new wonderful doctor who listens) to an ENT.  Pretty soon surgery was scheduled for early July to insert tubes and remove his adenoids.  In speaking with his current doctor, his SLP, as well as the ENT, we all agree that his speech delay was almost certainly caused by the number of ear infections he has had.  Even though his hearing was not effected, the way he heard sounds was.  We all think this is why he has an artic delay. 

He started ST in the fall (at the same school I went to as a child) twice a week.  Fast forward to now.  He is 3.5 years old, and I do not need to translate most of what he says.  He still has a ways to go, but he has come so far!  I am very proud of his work.  He loves going to his "speech class" at his "red big school"!  He enjoys playing with kids at the park and play areas, and it's been a long time since I've heard one of them calling him a "baby".

I'm not sure if he will graduate in May, or if he will continue next year with his ST.  I'm not worried about that.  I'm just happy he's getting the help he needs now.  I know to always follow my "mother's intuition" when it comes to my kids, despite what others (including doctors) may say.  No one knows a child better than their own parent.

For a long time I said I regretted not being pushy early on, instead of waiting so long.  Now, I do not believe in regrets.  I see no point in them.  We don't have time machines to go back and change anything, and even if we did, I believe we can use all of our experiences (good and bad) and learn from them.  So for me to say I regretted not following my gut sooner is a very big statement.  But I no longer regret it.  I use this experience to share Riley's story with others.  Any time someone asks about their child's speech, development, or anything they are unsure about, I always tell them to follow their gut.  Even if everything turns out fine, I think it is better to be sure than to always wonder. 

Riley playing at the Children's Museum

1 comment:

  1. you're right on - your gut always knows best! good for you for pursuing the services that Riley clearly needed!