Tubes Vs. Allergy Meds and Being Behind the Speech Curve

This is a bit lengthy. I really should be writing about all the amazing things that summer has brought me – specifically, quality time with my kids. They turn two in a few weeks, so I’ll do the update then.

Right now I’m looking for advice from you speech people, because I’m confused and slightly annoyed. Instead of our Early Intervention Developmental Specialist today, the Speech Pathologist came instead. And she’s blunt, which I knew. Which isn’t my style, but when it comes to my kids, yes, just get to the point and tell me what I need to know. But she’s also super critical. She admitted to me. In fact, on Day 1, the first meeting of EI, she told me to get B tested for Autism and was sure he was autistic. (Side bar – we did have that Autism evaluation done last week and B is not Autistic. This should probably be a blog post in and of itself.)

NORMAL SPEECH FOR 2 YEAR OLDS?

On that Day 1, B was mostly communicating to us through pointing and whining. I can see now how that was a problem. Since then, he learned to ask for help. Since then, he learned to string up to 4 words together in a mini-sentence, the same as C, just slightly slower and with rhythm. “More…Daddy’s….french fries……please…..”, nodding his head with every word, as if he’s counting out the beats to a song. Since then, he tells me what he wants. “On light please”, ” ‘Self” (Myself) – not just demanding it as C does but also exclaiming it after he’s carried the stool into the bathroom without assistance and stood on it to wash his hands. “More carrots please”, “Jeep – ready set go!” and many new one word sentences that help him communicate what he wants. In only a few months time, he has come a long way. And like I said, though he speaks a bit slower, he’s almost caught up to C.

But when the speech pathologist came today, she let me know that he’s really nowhere near where he should be. In fact, she said, even though he has almost caught up to C, she’s behind too, apparently for what’s normal for 2-2.5 year olds. Really? I guess I’m just confused. When it comes to speech and communication, for almost two year olds – what IS normal? I mean C sings the entire alphabet, says, “I love you Mommy” and her “S” sound is divine. She effectively tells us what she wants almost 100% of the time, using multiple words at a time. So if she’s behind, then I’m just flat out confused. I thought she was ahead. The fact is, there are a few areas where B still needs work, and I know that. B prefers to communicate with us using one, demanding word – and as we have done before, we have allowed him to do this and acknowledged it, which doesn’t teach him anything. For example, when reading books, he’ll yell, “Train!” because he wants us to read the train book. So one of us will say, “Yes, B, go get the train book and we’ll read it.” Or if he wants me to change his diaper and not Daddy – he’ll say, “Mommy!” until we say either, “No, Daddy’s changing you right now.” Or, “Mommy is coming.” He’ll say, “outside”, “downstairs”, “orange truck” – and we know what he wants, and we don’t force him to say each word in a sentence. (Should we? Should I say, “Oh, you want the orange truck? Then say, ‘I want the orange truck'”.) But I guess this isn’t helping him – and I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated first and foremost because according to the speech pathologist, and of course the whole Early Intervention program in general, B isn’t where he should be, and even though I know this two months later, it still gives me a stomachache. But more so than that, I feel like the natural way that my husband and I talk and react and parent isn’t a way that’s helping B. I mean, I didn’t know this but it now seems to be the case. And so – now I feel like I’m looking at B when he says something and I don’t know WHAT to say back. I don’t know how to respond to my own child. And if I’m talking to him incorrectly, then so is my husband and everyone else he interacts with. We’re all doing it “wrong”. I could do what comes natural, but that seems to be furthering the problem. The goal, according to speech, is to get B communicating without repeating what we say.  Which – we do that all the time. We teach him new words and we ask him to repeat, which he does. But then he doesn’t do it in context, which means he never learned it to begin with.

Such as the pronunciation for “open”. They both always said something like, “Ah-Mee.” Finally, we broke it down and taught the syllables to them. They both repeated it perfectly. We do frequent sing-song reminders as well. C now does it in context, and B doesn’t. And the speech woman told me that B doesn’t learn anything accidentally – he won’t pick up on things easily on his own. It has to be direct instruction with constant reminders. She said she knows other people might say, “Oh, he’s still so young” – but she wants to let me know that this could affect how he does in school, since he’s obviously a hands on learner (yes, this is true, a mini-engineer right now) and only learns deliberately. He won’t just pick things up.  All of this makes sense, it’s just kind of stressful. I’m not sure how to communicate with him naturally, if what I’m doing isn’t working. And really, thinking about how he will perform in elementary school doesn’t help me now, except to know that yes, this is serious and we want to help him. But I just don’t know how off the mark he (and C) are for 23 months – and how to BEST get him to where he needs to be.

And finally – regarding this – the speech pathologist isn’t exactly warm. This was only the third time they met her because she comes once a month. B and C cry a lot, because she’s a little scary and she doesn’t let them get by without doing what she needs them to do. She said today, “That toy isn’t for spinning – use it correctly or I’m going to take it back”. She pretended to give them a shot with a play doctor’s kit and she touched C first and C screamed. Then she touched B and B looked at C, saw she was upset, and screamed too. And she said, “Oh, he’s crying because I touched him”. And I said, “I think he’s crying because he’s sensitive and he saw C crying and followed suit.” I have shy children – and B is EXTREMELY shy. And I think that needs to be taken into account. He won’t perform for strangers. When he’s uncomfortable he looks down at his hands, or hops into my lap. But he’s still little, and I don’t know – strangers are kind of scary. Especially unfriendly ones.

OH and to finish up today’s session, she said (and I echoed) – “You can’t do the puzzle until you clean up the animals.” Wait time. And then, “Clean up first and then you can do your puzzle.” Finally he just looked right at me and yelled, “NO!” And – I was unprepared. Should I put him in a “time out” to make me look like a parent who has this under control, when in fact we have never done a time out before because we haven’t needed one and B has NO IDEA what time out is or means? I said, “That’s not nice, you need to clean up.” “NO!” Ah yes, Baby’s first defiant NO, and in front of Early Intervention people. Fabulous! I can’t even tell you how it ended because it didn’t end. Lolz – Is this how you parent?? Just when I think I’ve got parenting down pretty well, it turns out I have no clue.

TUBES VS ALLERGY MEDS – When doctors don’t agree

I’m so over this right now. Both B and C are constantly getting ear infections. The antibiotics work (most of the time) and the infections go away. But with the smallest cold, C especially gets infections. Neither of them just get little colds. And so it’s constant. Our pediatrician wants them on Zyrtec. So they’re on Zyrtec. And when they’re on it, the fluid in their ears goes away. We know Zyrtec works. But they’ve been on it for months at a time. When they come off it, the fluid comes back. B’s hearing doctor said Zyrtec is bad, it makes them sleepy and is just a band-aid, it doesn’t actually solve the problem. Tubes might be needed. Pediatrician then says, they haven’t had enough infections yet to qualify for tubes, and plus it’s allergy season anyway. Keep taking Zyrtec. Now speech pathologist agrees with hearing doctor, and is pushing for tubes, because constant antibiotics is a bad thing (I agree), and constant Zyrtec isn’t good either (I agree). But the pediatrician isn’t having this tubes discussion right now. Not to mention – tubes fall out. Tubes require surgery and being put under. All of these things might be contributing to B’s speech issues, so we need to get on it but my doctors aren’t agreeing and I don’t know WHERE to turn for that one.

A much happier two year update coming soon!

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15 thoughts on “Tubes Vs. Allergy Meds and Being Behind the Speech Curve

  1. thefamilyvan says:

    Okay, I’m super irritated at this Speech/Language lady, and I wasn’t even there! So many of the actions she took that you described go against everything I believe strongly as a parent (and a teacher, actually).
    First of all, there is NO “wrong way” to play with a toy. What a ridiculous statement. Toddlers explore, they experiment, that’s how they learn. What a horrible message that there’s only one way to do something. I’m sorry it was difficult for you, but I loved reading that B stood up to her and told her no when she asked him to do something. I firmly believe that people of every age reflect the respect they’ve been shown, and she sounds very disrespectful of your son. You know your child best. You describe him as loving and sensitive and empathetic–mama, you know exactly what to do, and you are doing a great job! I’m sorry you had an experience where a “professional” made you question your abilities.

    • futuresoccermom says:

      Thank you so much – I appreciate it. You’re right, about the “wrong way” to play with a toy thing. At the time I wasn’t thinking clearly and just went along with it, and now I think it’s crazy.

  2. Amber says:

    I haven’t gotten a chance to read this thoroughly, but 1. I’m irritated by a SLP proclaiming a child has autism. Professionals may have a “hunch” and sometimes be correct, but autism evaluations are team based for a reason.
    2. We are in the same boat about meds vs tubes. Zyrtec and nasonex work, but they are band aids and our ENT said H is a candidate for tubes. Now we are weighing the pros/ cons of tubes. It’s a simple surgery, but I hate the part where he’s put under. These decisions are awful…you aren’t alone there!

    • futuresoccermom says:

      Hi – thank you! Regarding the tubes, that’s where I stand as well. I know the surgery is simple but I really don’t want to put them under. So I’m not sure what to do! And thanks about the autism comment – On Day 1, she said she “wouldn’t be surprised” if he qualified for Autism services. But he did not!

  3. Amber says:

    PS- if you are having a lot of trouble with your EI speech therapist, call the program coordinator and request one that will jive with your parenting style, ect. Advocate for you and your babies! Go mama bear!

  4. Tales of a Twin Mombie says:

    I just want to encourage you and tell you that your son sounds like he’s on a GREAT path regardless of what the speech lady says or not. Jojo receives speech once a week and it’s such a different experience than what you are describing. That’s not what your little guy’s experience should look like. He shouldn’t fear his teacher because she’s being a meanie. Yes, speech teachers have goals I get that – but I don’t like her style. When our speech teacher comes my kids are ecstatic. They love when any of the therapists come because they are warm and my little guys respond to that. Being warm and friendly doesn’t mean you can’t be firm. And the fact that she keeps saying he has autism?! She needs to go. Our teachers keep telling us the opposite – they say that they work with autistic toddlers daily and it’s a world’s apart from what you are describing your little one does. Your little guy is AHEAD of my little guy because he isn’t really putting his words into sentences yet…the fact that B is, is in fact Awesome! Even though my boy isn’t doing that, the therapists are impressed with how much he’s grown. They keep telling me that at this rate they are confident he will probably not need services when he gets to preschool. So it’s astounding when I read how your little guy is doing and how discouraging his speech therapist is. Our team would be really impressed. They say that starting out with repetition isn’t a bad thing either. Sometimes I think there’s so much pressure as to what milestones need to be reached and when, but I think the fact that you’ve seen growth is awesome. Progress is a great thing. I would recommend talking to the supervisor or coordinator of the program and see if you can have another one come in. I’m thinking of you because it can all be pretty overwhelming but Im telling you – the right therapists make ALL the difference! I don’t follow a script when interacting with Jojo, no one will rob me of the joy of communicating with my little guy! I think as long as you’re responding with words, it’s okay. Our speech person has also taught us baby sign which has helped a lot as well. If you ever need anything don’t hesitate to email, text, or call! ❤️❤️❤️

    • futuresoccermom says:

      Thank you so much!! You made so many good points here, and I know you’re on a very similar journey as we are. You’re right when you say that no one should rob you of communicating with your son, and that’s definitely how I was feeling. And what amazing progress Jojo has made! It sounds like your therapists are really warm and supportive and I guess we could use a little more of that. I so appreciate the support!

  5. randomsqueaks says:

    I hesitate to share a “professional” speech opinion because my professional experience is a decade old, but I complete agree with everyone else that the speech therapist needs to go. B is worlds ahead of my two, who I’m suspecting may need speech as well if they don’t have a language explosion soon. But despite my background, I’m not worried about them! They’re happy, healthy, growing babies who communicate their needs. Same as yours. B has shown tremendous growth, from pointing and whining to four word sentences. And don’t even call that a mini-sentence. That’s a great sentences for a two year old! I expect he’ll continue to grow and learn, and he can most certainly do it by repeating what you say. That’s one of the basic things that speech therapists do! (Essentially not let the game or toy or privilege continue until child says word or sound they’re targeting, and usually by repeating it.) That therapist sounds like she needs to be working with older kids or adults, not toddlers.
    As for tubes, I’d lean towards them but I’m not the one who would be worrying and stressing before and during the surgery. But it sounds like they would likely need them. I have many friends with children who got tubes even younger than yours.
    I’d love to hear about B’s autism eval, out of curiosity. And I’d definitely love to hear about the wonderful summer time you’ve been spending together.

    • futuresoccermom says:

      Thank you SO much for this comment! I totally agree with you – she seems a better fit for older kids or maybe even teenagers. She’s sarcastic and blunt lol. I appreciate your knowledge about speech for toddlers as well. And even know, a few weeks later, B continues to take off with his speech. I suspect your little twins will too! The language didn’t really come until 23 months! I would love to post about B’s autism eval and plan to soon! But in short – the woman was so warm and kind, and B loved her. She was mainly looking for eye contact at appropriate times, above all else!

  6. Theresa says:

    Oy. As a speech therapist myself, that girl did all the things I would NOT do. She should NOT be telling you your child has autism. She should NOT be scolding your child for playing with a toy differently from its intention (unless he was doing something dangerous or inappropriate of course). Honestly, based on your description, your twins sound fine. Kids’ developmental speed varies quite a bit. What I generally look for in a two year old is this: an expressive vocabulary of at least 50 words, able to label simple objects and point to them in pictures, point to body parts and clothes, follow simple directions, requesting more often than pointing or grunting and starting to put two words together. Of course I look at other things, but those are the biggest ones. I think that you could encourage him to expand some of those one word responses (want mommy instead of mommy, want train book instead of train) but don’t get discouraged – he has come a LONG way in 2 months.

    • futuresoccermom says:

      Thank you so much – you have some wonderful tips here. We’ve been trying to do what you said, saying things like “want” in front of what he wants, and I think he’s starting to take to it. But you’re right – and at the time I just went along with it, but yeah he should be able to play with a toy however he wants. He just looked at her like she had 3 heads when she said that to him.

  7. Vanessa says:

    I just found your blog today while reading about your IVF journey (I am just starting my first IVF round) and stumbled across this post. I am also a speech therapist 🙂 I agree with Theresa’s language suggestions about encouraging your son to expand his one word utterances to two words. Since I’ve never met your son personally I can’t give a reliable professional opinion on his development. I can only say that in general some kids just need a little extra time, encouragement and practice. Speech therapy can provide great guidance for children, but it should be play based and fun! My younger students LOVE to come to speech therapy and the other kids get jealous and ask when they get to go to speech class with Ms. Vanessa 😉 If your children don’t have a good rapport with the therapist, this could adversely affect their “performance” during therapy and testing.

    So many parents are hard on themselves about whether they speak to their kids correctly. From the information I have, it sounds like you’re giving your children great language models and expansions (i.e. expanding upon the utterance – he says “truck” and you say “Oh, you want the truck!”). Let me just say that it’s not your job to be a speech therapist, it’s your job to be a parent. A good speech therapist should answer your questions about language in the home and teach you strategies (if needed). Until you get clear recommendations from a speech therapist you trust, I would continue to communicate naturally with your children, give good language models, and expand upon their utterances.

    The national speech therapy organization ASHA has some general recommendations here: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/Parent-Stim-Activities.htm Also, not sure if you’re already heard about this, but Mommy Speech Therapy is a great blog – there is a focus on articulation (sounds) over language (words) but it’s worth a look: http://mommyspeechtherapy.com/?p=2676

    Okay, and one last word about the speech therapist. Speech therapists cannot diagnose autism and should not add labels to suspected diagnoses outside their specialty. Every speech therapist has his/her own style but her approach may be “old school” and out-dated. It would be worthwhile to seek a second opinion.

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