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!

The highs and lows of 23 months

They’re just about 23 months, and 2 is creeping up quick. I felt inspired to share this post tonight after coming to a realization. Somewhere in between kisses and snuggles on the couch when I got home from work and at dinner, when C screamed bloody murder because of a bib mix up and B burst into tears when his quesadilla came apart – I realized how quickly our emotions change as parents. My husband and I, on an almost daily basis, have these moments where we can’t believe these little beings are ours; reflections of us. We asked B to go call his sister for dinner. And we watched him go into the living room over to her and say, “C! Eat!” But then, so soon after those precious moments, we look at each other and wonder how quickly we can run the bath and get them to bed, because B didn’t get the towel color he wanted and I didn’t give in when C asked for a pear, and then an apple, and then a banana, and then puffs, when she didn’t want dinner.

This age is starting to get really fun. They are both on the brink of so much language, constant learning, and frequent meltdowns. We’re exhausted.

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This is the scene right before bed: Everyone on the couch, even the dogs. Sometimes B is into the books, sometimes he’s not. Sometimes they want to read right along with us and know every word; sometimes they’re yapping to each other, the dogs are wrestling, the microwave is beeping, and my husband is reading me a children’s book. At least someone is listening. Sometimes we get goodnight snuggles as we carry them up the stairs – and sometimes they insist on climbing the stairs by themselves and take a half hour to do so, pausing on each step, turning around to see where the other is.

B’s skills, in the last week or so, have started to take off. And I’m not just talking about his balance and coordination, although that’s improving too.

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This boy who hated being on any surface that wasn’t flat and hard, who couldn’t bend his body in any direction other than straight down, is starting to understand that it’s fun to twist and turn and swing and bounce. He never enjoyed these things previously, and now he loves the exercise ball. He and C go to a My Gym class once a week and though they are by far the least adventurous kids there, every week they do a little more and try something new. This weekend B walked across a wobbly rolled up mat.

Not only that, but his speech and communication are really coming along. I’ve found that if he identifies something by color, shape or size (which is what he has been doing all along), I repeat what he said and look at him, waiting – and he finishes his thought. His pronunciation is getting better as well and he’s added the long “I” sound. It’s just really wonderful to watch him process, learn, and get excited. It’s even better to see the tantrums decrease dramatically. Where a few months ago he couldn’t communicate effectively and was hitting and biting, now he’s all laughs and smiles.

IMG_1851C is also growing and changing every day. She too enjoys her My Gym class, though she hasn’t come down a slide since the first day.  I find myself both in awe of her and struck by her fierce sense of independence and the growing amount of sass. Out in public she and her brother are both very shy, but at home she rules the roost right now. There’s never a time when she doesn’t know what she wants. And even with her desire to do every single thing on her own, she’s very much like myself, conscientious to a fault, always thinking about others instead of herself. This both makes me so proud and breaks my heart at the same time.

I’m SO enjoying watching her learn. She and B somehow know their letter sounds and now, just for kicks, I’m starting on some sight words. I don’t expect much to come of it, but she soaks it up. She wants to know what the words say and since she has books memorized, we can all kind of pretend she’s “reading”.

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She absolutely LOVES to read. It’s her favorite thing right now, besides kittens and babies. Unlike B who always wants to help me do a task, she’s fine to be on her own, which is quite helpful. You have to steal kisses to get them, but she chooses to be tickled until she can’t breathe. Like her mother and grandmother, she’s addicted to sugar. This is why she doesn’t get much of it 🙂 She’s not deprived, though, I assure you. She eats fruit multiple times a day and eats up unsweetened applesauce and plain yogurt like it’s ice cream. She practically licked her applesauce bowl clean tonight. Once or twice a week they get a little something, and just like their parents, when offered a chip or a donut hole yesterday, B chose the chip and C the donut.

As we round the corner towards 2, my least favorite part about this current age is their desires to do (though it’s also one of their best traits!). They climb stairs at their own pace, they eat at their own pace, they want to put their own shoes on and it doesn’t matter if we’re already late to go somewhere – they want to put on their own shoes. They can’t, of course. But it’s them against us (or me, during the week in the summertime), and if I think I want to get them somewhere on time, well that’s just not happening. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes I look around at our tiny tornado of a house and our under-walked hyper dogs and I just have to take a breath and know that this IS life with toddlers, and is actually everything I always wanted!

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But my favorite part about 23 months is their growing love for each other. No longer occasional playmates, they have each other’s backs at all times – constantly inquiring about the state of the other, whether one is crying, laughing, or sneezing. They ask for each other the second they wake up. They chase each other down the hall. One won’t eat until the other sits down. Even if they aren’t playing with the same toys, they choose to be in the same room. They’re always together, which seems to be what they want. In short – they’re starting to become friends. And it’s absolutely the most adorable thing ever. My favorite part, hands down.

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