I have four kids who have basically been on track developmentally their entire lives. They all had to do some time in the NICU when they were born due to being premature, but it was never anything life threatening. There were differences in the ages of when they rolled over, crawled, and took their first steps, but nothing outside the norm.
Then our youngest daughter Alexis still wasn’t talking at 2 years old. And I don’t mean not putting words together, I mean she had a handful of words she used and everything else she said was unintelligible, even for me, who was home with her all day. She understood everything we said to her, but she couldn’t talk to us beyond ma, da, up, and that.
Our pediatrician originally brought up Alexis’s lack of talking at her 18 month check up. It wasn’t a concern yet, just as something to watch for as she got closer to turning 2. When we went in for her 2 year check up I wasn’t surprised when the recommendation came to have her tested for speech delays, but I wasn’t ready to say she needed help. My older two kids had a big verbal breakthrough at just over 2 years old, and so I waited to see if the same might happen with Alexis, even though I knew she wasn’t picking up on everything like my other kids did.
By December, Alexis was almost 2.5 and still hadn’t made much progress. Her and I were getting into serious meltdowns because I couldn’t figure out what she wanted, and she couldn’t figure out how to tell me what she wanted besides just pointing, babbling, and then crying and screaming when I had no idea what she meant. Luckily we came across Zia Therapy, and got her tested. She qualified for services, and although I went back and forth a lot on actually signing her up, I ended up enrolling her.
I know there are plenty of kids that need help learning to do things. That’s why they go to school, and parents teach their kids things constantly, but I was stuck on the fact that Alexis needed outside help. She was going to be in speech therapy. Therapy. For some reason that word just lodged in my brain and I couldn’t shake all the negative associations I had with it.
Intellectually I know there’s nothing wrong with therapy. It’s there to help people until they don’t need it anymore, not a sign she’ll wear for the rest of her life. Everyone I told reacted positively and was excited that it was going to help her, and one friend even said she had been thinking of testing her daughter because she wasn’t talking either.
So what was my deal?
I’m a little embarrassed I’m even saying this, but I was embarrassed she was in therapy. It’s 100% all in my head, but I was embarrassed she needed help. I didn’t want to admit to anyone that everything wasn’t just going along perfectly in our little idyllic life. I also think part of it came form her being a twin. Her brother is off the charts verbal, and I was so worried someone would compare them and she would be the dumb twin because she was in therapy and he was telling me about the purple umbrella in the picture he’s coloring.
But once I opened up a little, I was rewarded with so much support from all our friends and family. They have all checked in with us periodically to ask how it’s going with her, and how she’s doing. The friends we see regularly have commented on how much clearer she’s talking and how well she’s doing. There’s no backlash on her for needing this, and I’m 100% convinced it was the right choice for her.
I’ve gotten over everything now, and she’s made amazing progress. 4-5 word sentences, dozens of words, and most importantly to me, she can communicate what she wants. She’s still stubborn as a mule when she wants to be but I think that’s just the personality of our little spitfire. No amount of speech therapy will change her saying ‘No, I do it!’ into something else 🙂
Jennifer is a stay at home mom with two sets of twins. She copes with having four kids ages 5 and 3 with wine, desserts and cooking. But at the end of the day she wouldn’t trade her crazy life for anything. You can read more from Jennifer at Sweet Discord.