Still Not Talking?!

Written Fall 2015

So, as Nathan turned 2 years of age, we had our well child checkup and the pediatrician was big on him talking. Much of this was preparation for preschool… which isn’t especially relevant since we’re planning on homeschooling. In any case, it was a big talk about how Nate needed to be talking and talking now!

She referred us to a developmental pediatric rehab/PT/OT/SLP program for a specialized screening as well as for warning signs of developmental delay.

I gotta be honest. I was little insulted. I’m a Physical Therapist. I know these things well enough. Who do physicians send kiddos to when their development is in question? Among good company, Physical Therapists! And yes, I’m biased because he’s my kid. But, it just struck me wrong. He’s my boy! I’m his dad. Objective or not, reasonable or not, responsible or not… it just wasn’t something I wanted to hear. It may not be rational. But, hey… emotions rarely are.

After talking on the phone for a lengthy conversation with the specialist, we decided not to go for the screening. Nate doesn’t do well with strangers nor in any medical office. He’s basically in panic mode the whole time he’s at the doctor’s office and is impossible to pin down. Imagine taking a kid like that to get “screened” — you can imagine how many false positives would come up.

So, we kept going, simply because the range of “normal” for children is so very wide. Later, I asked a retired Speech Language Pathologist about Nathan. She basically said that since I was catching him talking with himself and that when we asked him to reciprocate, he would refuse; speaking at the time for him, was basically a game. It wasn’t about communication. Nate just wanted to see how much he could say and not say, until it got boring. Or, until it became a point where social pressure of performing speech wasn’t involved that he would open up. He’s testing the boundaries of speech, social situations, and how it relates to communication.

A few months later, we noticed he would interact with TV shows, educational toys, etc and start spouting off all these words and interacting properly. Sure enough, recently, he started to open up a lot more. Yes… this might be slow according to all the books, blogs, and online resources. At the same time, who came up with such “norms?” Where they the same norms 100 years ago? 200? 1000? Probably not.

When you compare one kiddo to another, you realize that normal is such a wide range. Our son is ridiculously talented when it comes to physical development. His core control and athleticism is really quite astonishing, even when compared to kids a year older. Yet, he doesn’t do so well with “the talking.” Then, there are other kids we know who talk like they are a year older than they are. However, they are not walking so well and have trouble with the same motor control which Nate could do with his eyes closed.

What does this mean?

In my humble opinion (IMHO)… it’s ALL NORMAL.

Certainly, there were times and still are times when I’m a little worried about Nathan’s speech development. At the same time, I think part of this is because I am a healthcare professional… knowing too much — well, it’s a bad thing in this case. Nevertheless, it does appear that just in the last week or two, Nathan has turned a corner. He’s saying all sorts of words I’ve never heard him say before. He’s willing to open up and being far more verbal. Sure, he might be a few months behind the track as prescribed by whatever textbook out there. But, as far as I see it, “normal” is normal so long as the kid is healthy and functional.

So far, so normal.