Ready for another update in our Toddler Hearing & Speech Saga? Oh, the dramz involved in parenting!
When we last left off, our son, D (now 23 months) saw a really great ENT (Ear Nose Throat doctor). He confirmed that he had fluid in both his ears, and it could have been there for any length of time. It could also be contributing to his minor hearing loss (he can’t hear anything under 40 decibels) and his pronounced speech delay.
At the end the appointment, the ENT told us that yes, D could definitely be a candidate for having tubes in his ears — which are placed in kids who have frequent ear infections, OR kids like D who just have constant fluid that affects his hearing.
But (BUT!) the ENT could not consent to giving him tubes until he was sure the fluid was really and truly not going anywhere on its own. So we booked a follow-up for May 28, and sat back to wait. Well, not just wait. We had another baby and stuff. You know, to keep busy.
Well, May 28 is finally here. We’re going back to the ENT today for a few reasons:
Since the doctor will almost definitely ask me, I’ve been trying to put together a list of the limited (spoken) vocabulary D has. Regular readers will remember that D is quite proficient in American Sign Language. He can do more than 50 signs — probably more, if I really sat down and counted — and understands even more than that.
But speech-wise? Not nearly as great.
Here’s an up-to-date list of what he’s saying now, at 23 months. Crossed-out words indicate words he used to say, but no longer does. Brackets indicate his pronunciation issues:
I think that’s about it, and — as you can see — a lot of the words are not very clear. It blows my mind that this child struggles to say “milk” but can say “Elmo” pretty clearly! Damn Sesame Street commercialism!
Two-year-olds are supposed to have at least 50 words at their disposal, plus string together multiple words. He never strings together spoken words, but he does sign multiple words together (like “Baby cry” or “Dada go?”).
His signing has actually progressed incredibly in the last little while. He can sign the lyrics to whole songs as I sing them — Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Itsy Bitsy Spider and a weird stop/go song about bugs.
He can’t say any colours other than purple, but he can sign red, blue, and yellow and identify them. When he wants to get out his crayons and markers, he signs “colour.”
He knows the signs for playground equipment — which is important, because I can sign “slide” or “swing” to him when the playground is noisy, and he understands (and his hearing seems worse in noisy locations).
He can sign that he wants pancakes for breakfast instead of toast. He can sign that he’d rather have water than milk. And you bet he’ll start signing “cookie” when we are near the bakery in the grocery store. When he saw me trying to sneak an empty ice cream bar box into the recycling bin the other day, he signed “ice cream” immediately. His signs are not always perfect, but they’re always enough that I know what he means.
So far all of the doctors we’ve seen have been very, ah, disdainful, about D’s sign language. If I had a dollar for every doctor who implied D would be talking more if I hadn’t taught him to sign, I would have … well, probably $5. But still!
I’m very, very, very interested in what we will hear at today’s appointment.
I just want answers, so we can start doing more to help D.