…and a chicken says “cuk cuk”… those are the two animal sounds Caleb can now make when you ask him. He can also say “car”, shake his head no and sometimes says “daddy” and “mama”. He can also make some pretty authentic car and truck sounds. Otherwise his speech has been coming very slowly. At one time he could say “hi” and “bye”, “thank you” and “cheese”, but these words have gotten lost somewhere inside his head.
Caleb seems to be having motor planning difficulties – and could have a verbal dyspraxia. This simply means that his brain is having difficulty telling the oral motor muscles what to do in order to form the specific sounds needed for speech production. As a result Caleb has great difficulty saying words and so he has very limited verbal language, and isn’t able to talk like other children his age.
As many of you know, my line of work involves working with young children who have some developmental delays or diffficulties. So as I have been watching Caleb grow up, I’ve also been keeping a little watchful eye for all the developmental milestones to occur. In my heart I knew that something was wrong with his expressive language… and this is one of those times I wish I wasn’t right. Sometimes knowing too much is a dangerous thing. And having the child development background did make me worry about Caleb more than I should have. But it also has given us a huge jump start into early intervention, something another parent may not have caught until their child was older and still not talking. So now Caleb is getting the help he needs from a Speech-Language therapist, and also an Occupational therapist.
I know that Adam and I did nothing wrong. I know it’s not our fault or Caleb’s fault. This is just something that has happened to his ability to motor plan. But I still can’t help feeling sad. Sad for all those times he’s tried to communicate and we haven’t understood. Sad for all those times he thought he said something clearly, but only a jumble of sounds came out. Sad for all those times he’s fallen down in a fustrated heap because he can’t tell us what he wants or what is wrong. And sad that when I say I love him, he can’t yet say it back to me.
Last night when I put him to bed we sang “Old MacDonald had a Farm” for the hundredth time… because Caleb can sing along to the Moo moo’s here and the cluck cluck’s there… and then I whispered in his ear that I loved him very much. He took his sucky out of his mouth, looked straight into my eyes and gave me the biggest hug and kiss. So I know even though he doesn’t have the verbal words… Caleb can still say “I love you too Mommy”.