Speak easy


Well, after our second visit to the speech pathologist, we left with the task of speaking to our dear boy in two-word phrases. And to build every one-word utterance he makes into a two-word, correctly articulated gem. When he says “car,” I say, “drive car” or “blue car” or “car goes.” You get the picture.

In addition to an articulation issue (most likely due to the long-term fluid in his ears), Cliff shows some signs of an expressive language disorder. It’s not a confirmed diagnosis, since we’re only two weeks into the process. But the Baby Whisperer gave me a heads up that there are some indicators.When someone sits back and starts a sentence with “I don’t want to scare you …” Be prepared.

I can honestly say, I’m not scared. I have faith we’ll do our part. Cliff will do his. The Baby Whisperer hers. And that God’s got us covered – all in his way and his time. I have a healthy and capable little guy. So the way I see it, all is right with the world.

Googling expressive language disorders is kind of a bust. I can’t find much of anything on the web but some generic, somewhat broad information. And nothing really led me to any support resources for parents or anything, either. They were mostly for sweet little one’s with more severe learning issues or disabilities. I came across a bunch of text books. But I’m not in the market for those. I like to read about challenges, protocols, processes and successes. So I guess I’ll share ours.

Hey there. What's up?

Cliff has a mountain-high (although occasionally difficult-to-understand) vocabulary but not so much the ability to put words together. This has nothing to do with his intellect – if you know how cunning our little dude is, that’s an easy confirmation. But it could have an impact on his ability to say what he’s thinking. Or when he’s older, write his thoughts, etc.

After some retrospective analysis, it is pretty evident to us that although he says many two-word phrases, none of them have been very unique. Standing by a light switch and saying “light on” is indeed expressive. He is turning the light on. But that’s pretty much been the scope of it. Light on, light off, coat on, coat off. All done.

You get the picture. Sure he says other phrases: I love you. Stop that. Thank you. You’re welcome. (He’s very polite.) Oh, and Poopy Head. But those might as well be single words to him.

This isn’t really atypical of being a little one in a large family. There are six people who respond to his single-word commands. We know what he wants. And frankly, he’s always been a kid who wants very little. He wants to be fed, climb on the furniture and play. He’s a pretty simple guy.

So, picture this: I sit down with the bigger kids and tell them the deal. I say this is what we’re going to do. And they oblige and are doing it. Everyone is doing it. Even his fabulous Montessori school teacher. Five-year-old Lillian has at times expressed some opposition to the process. (“Why isn’t he talking yet since you’re taking him to that lady?”) I’m not sure she’s a big fan of all the attention he’s getting. (Gee, wait until she finds out I’m spending the money I’ve been saving for her sibling-rivalry recovery therapy on his speech therapy.)

And now picture this: If you actually know us, you know there isn’t an unenthusiastic one in the bunch. If you dropped by our house these past few days, you might think we were a bunch of over-caffeinated cheerleaders on steroids or something. We’re – collectively – one huge, living and breathing exclamation point. (!)

Okay. Now take a moment to picture this: Yesterday morning, my little guy is standing in the bathroom, and he turns to me and asks, “Where’s Henry’s puppy?” I didn’t get it at first, so I stooped. He grabbed my face and slowly said it again. (His version of Henry is a tough word to understand between two others.) He was obviously thinking of the stuffed toy they were playing with the night before. You can be darn straight we found that puppy!

Ready to get down to business.

And after school yesterday, he said, “Where’s my work?”

He couldn’t see his  prized sewing work in front of him on the floor of the van. AND! As we were preparing to go outside he asked, “Where’s my other shoe?”

I know. Say it. He’s a genius. (A motherly winky goes right …. here.)

It’s not much. But only two and a half days into this – it’s a lot. Today he said he “Want to see the toys” that Henry was packing for game day at school.

At another occasion, when I just couldn’t understand him, he tried to very slowly repeat his words for my comprehension. Then he looked into my eyes and quietly sighed and muttered, “I don’t know.” That’s the part that makes my heart ache for him in this process. As a person who very rarely is at a loss for words, I can’t imagine having my thoughts against my will held captive in my head. (Even though, I’m quite sure there are many times my thoughts should’ve stayed quietly tucked in their cage.)

The joy in his reaction when we know what he was saying is really a motivator for all of us. I truly marvel at how a little brain works.

Time will tell what the fruits of this will be and how he will be able to express and process his own thoughts better. And he still has some pretty significant articulation issues to tackle. I know it’s not going to be easy, but at least we’re off to a really good start.

We’ve found some nifty apps on the iPad that are really fun and useful for Cliff (only with parental interaction, of course.) I’ll have to share those, too. I want to share them with the Baby Whisperer first.

6 thoughts on “Speak easy

  1. I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!!!!! THIS IS A BIG DEAL!!!!! (and no, there is no sarcasm or over-caffeinated cheerleading in those exclaimation points, that is sincere excitement!!!!) Glad you’re already seeing amazing results, keep up the good (hard) work.

  2. One, I am very happy and grateful to the Lord that Clifford is doing well! God will provide! The Divine Child will be with Him always.

    When you mentioned fluid retention, I could not help but recall my own issues with that pertaining to my hearing issues. I know what it’s like. It can be very vexing but God always provides. Keep trusting in His providence and Our Lady’s maternal intercession and all should be well. Thank God ahead of time for all that He shall do you for your dear little boy. 🙂

  3. You are so right. Have to celebrate the little victories along the way. 🙂 Way to go, Cliffie!!! I love that your whole family is on board. What a winning team you’ve assembled. Can’t wait to hear about all the little successes. Keep sharing!

  4. Oh I am so happy for you guys. It’s wonderful that he’s making such quick progress. It’s so exciting when that happens. It’s fun to watch. Way to go whole family!!

  5. Sounds like great progress!!! Before you know it, you’ll be asking the Baby Whisperer if she has any ideas to keep him from talking all the time! Keep up the good work. He’ll go far.

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