Communication

Peter was reevaluated by Early Intervention in November.  To be honest, I was sort of expecting him to be discharged from the program; he seemed to be doing so well developmentally.  Kristina, his therapist, indicated beforehand that she wasn’t sure whether he would qualify for services again.  He did well overall on the evaluation, scoring at least at the level of his adjusted age – 13 months – in all areas but one: receptive language.  He only scored at a 10-month level in that area, so he will be getting another six months of EI services to work on his communication skills.

I couldn’t help but wonder why he was behind in this area.  Was it because he was so busy making use of his new walking skills that he didn’t want to slow down and listen to what people had to say to him?  Was it just his personality; did he inherit his great-grandmother’s inability to listen to what other people have to say?  Or was I failing in my parental duty to foster my son’s language development?  Was it an attention deficit issue?  Was it a hearing issue?  A sensory processing issue?  Or was it just one developmental area that had fallen behind as others (e.g., cognitive skills, where he scored at a 17-month level) lurched ahead?

Kristina reassured me that Peter has done very well, and his language skills will probably catch up soon.  I went ahead and scheduled a hearing screening, though.  I felt like I had a good excuse: the developmental pediatrician we saw last April had recommended that we have his hearing checked when he turned one just because preemies are at an increased risk for hearing loss.

The hearing test isn’t until this Friday, but I’m already feeling less anxious.  A few days ago, I asked Peter, “Where’s Peter’s shoe?” and he dutifully retrieved one of his shoes for me to put on his foot.  I’ve also asked him, “Where is Mama’s nose?” and he has correctly stuck his finger in the vicinity of my nostrils.  I think we’re making progress in the area of receptive language, and I know we’re making progress in the area of expressive language.

In November, Peter only had a couple words.  “Uh-oh” was and still is his favorite.  He uses it when objects are dropped and in other situations where things aren’t going quite right.  He also knew a couple animal sounds:  “woof, woof” and “moo”.  In the past month, though, Peter’s vocabulary has expanded rapidly.  “Up”, “down”, “out”, “in”, “on”, “off”, “apple”, “cheese”, “hot”, “hat”, “shoe”, “ball”, “more”, “oh, no!”, “achoo”, and “Elmo” are all words that he can use correctly.  He also identifies elephants, pigs, sheep, horses, and trains with the proper sound they make.  (“Meow” and “cheep, cheep” are still too difficult for him to say.)  I’m no child development expert, but for a little boy at an adjusted age of less than 15 months, I think this is a pretty good list. 

Peter is also developing new nonverbal communication skills.  He points and claps much more than he used to, and he can let me know what he wants by grabbing my fingers and leading me places (usually, to the refridgerator or a computer).  To let me know that he wants to go outside, he brings me his shoes.  Sometimes, I suspect that he’s using sign language that he picked up at day care – “more” and “milk”.  (“Milk” seems to be a difficult word for him to say.)

It really makes me happy that we’re finally getting to the point where I don’t (always) have to use trial and error to figure out what Peter wants.  I’m hoping that his language skills will continue to develop rapidly in the coming months so that the communication-associated frustrations of toddlerhood can be minimized.  Happy toddler = happy mother.

That’s enough bragging for now.  I’ll give an account of our Christmas festivities and a list New Year’s predictions later.  Unfortunately, writing blog posts more often did not make my list of New Year’s resolutions, but I do promise to post again before spring semester starts.

Peter and Grandma at the Sunken Garden.

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