We had two interviews in mid-August and early September and then our first official session with a speech pathologist this past Thursday. In our area, you qualify for services if your child is at least 25% delayed in a single development area. James slid in just under the wire. He tested at or above his age (22 months at time of testing) in all areas except expressive speech. His receptive speech and cognition are quite high. But in expressive speech he tested at 16 months.
Our "teacher" - Miss Nancy - said that it is not unusual for boys to be delayed talkers. It takes work, and many of them don't like to work that hard. But ever since our first interview after I asked for tips on how to help James, he's been slowly progressing. Over the past several weeks, he has added the following sounds and words to his vocabulary:
"nay" - horse
"bee-beep" - car
"bah" - sheep
"eee-aww" - donkey
"wack" - what a duck says
"OOOAAARRRR" - lion, tiger and bear
"aaaaeeaaahh" - baby crying
"bae-bee" - baby (referring both to real ones and to dolls)
"duck" - duck
"guck-ck" - milk
"tcheee" - cheese (when the camera comes out + for the food)
"tchees-uh" - Jesus
"tschuh" - shoe
"tsicks" - six
"tsocks" - sock
And this one cracks Ben and me up because he says it so often:
"eh-ih-iz" - there it is (which he says to refer to anything we're looking for, any place he recognizes as we approach it or any person he is wanting to see who has come into his view)
One thing I have to remember to ask the teacher is why he said some things for a time in the past and then stopped saying them altogether. For example, last spring, he would say, "Deh-yi, Det, Doe" and then go down the slide; "dot-it" - dropped it; "goo guck" everytime he saw a school bus - now that's just "guck"; "dah-ti" - Dorothy and a few others.
In the meantime, I am learning a few things about children's speech development. One thing the teacher said is that boys whose parents use more "baby talk" - two word phrases in the sing-song voice - usually can talk more quickly because they have sounds they can easily repeat. But their cognition might be a bit lower overall (they catch up, of course).
So our "homework" for the next couple of weeks: I am to engage with James in something called "child-directed play" for a couple of 15-minute sessions each day. Basically, during that time, I follow his lead in the play time and use just two-word phrases or sounds as we play without correcting, teaching or asking any questions. Interestingly, Miss Nancy said to limit those play times, because James expects me to use normal language with him - and although he can't repeat much of what I say, he fully understands it, and prefers it.
She said his cognition (which registered in the 96th percentile) is high because I have been reading to him (not just describing pictures on the page), using complete sentences and explaining everything we do. That was very encouraging! But she burst out laughing when I tried to practice the two-word sing-song thing and at one point said, "antlers caught." So the point of that exercise is to use words they can repeat... oh. Haha!
I am so grateful for the blessing that we have this service available to us. And I'm excited to see our boy learn to express himself clearly. May he develop his daddy's ability to speak concisely but not mind his mommy's habit of too many words!