This was going to be a post today about the power of words. About how important it is to choose our words and tone carefully when we speak to each other because you never know what is going on behind that other person’s closed doors. About we should use our words to lift each other up, and not to knock each other down.

But life got in the way today.

Today I finally took my head out of the sand and brought my youngest in to our doctor for a referral for a hearing test.

I’ve known for a while that his speech was delayed.  We’ve all known.  And thanks to some gentle prodding from my support group friends, I called our doctor to get his ears looked at.  At the visit, our pediatrician listened to me talk about how early intervention didn’t pick him up for services because he wasn’t delayed enough at 19 months.  She listened to me as I told her that he’s trying to communicate, but just can’t make the sounds, that nothing has progressed beyond the most basic words and every other attempt at new words sounds like he’s under water.  She listened to me as I shared my frustration because I just didn’t know what to do to help him along.

Then came the questions to me: Did I remember if he was delayed in his babbling as an infant?  Does he seem to be getting frustrated because he can’t communicate with us?  Can he identify different sounds, directions, different people’s voices?  She’s asking me these questions through his blood curdling screams as she’s cleaning out the giant balls of wax out of his ears.

The answer given by this guilt-ridden mother of three?  I have no idea.

And as that guilt swirls around in my head, I hear words like “immature speech” and “possible ear fluid” and “oral-motor function”.  Phrases like “The Learning Center for the Deaf” and “playing catch up”.  Reminders like “reduce that pacifier use as much as possible”.

After all the ear flushing and scraping is done, and after all the screaming has subsided thanks to a Curious George sticker, we make our way home with referral in hand.  And I think we know he can hear. He understands EVERYTHING.  He can get his shoes and bring them to me when he hears it’s time to go in the car. He can hear a plane going by overhead.  He can dance along to “Bad Romance” and hand the remote to me when it’s over.  He can mimic the Elmo’s World music.  He just can’t say shoes, plane, Lady Gaga or Elmo.

And of course, I wonder if it’s something I’ve done.  Was it too much TV?  Not enough reading?  Too much of everything else going on?  Did his brother’s autism pull me away from him too many times that I couldn’t help him learn his words earlier?  And as a family, can we really go through this again?  It’s not about finding the physical strength to go through the potential therapies, doctor’s visits and all the work.  It’s about finding the emotional time and energy to make it all happen.

I have to remember it could be so much harder.  He is a happy, healthy, loving little boy who is full of energy.  He has a laugh that is infectious and a smile that can light up your day.  He doesn’t have delays in any other area and we don’t see the other signs like we did with his brother.  S0 I have to have some hope.   Hope that it’s just a speech delay and nothing more.  Hope that it’s something that a few months of therapy will correct.  Hope that someday I”ll hear him yell “Mama” because he’s looking for me.

This post was supposed to be about the power of words.  Instead, it’s about the absence of them.  In many ways, that is just as powerful.

“Shout, shout, let it all out, these are the things I can do without
Come on, I’m talking to you, come on
Shout, shout, let it all out, these are the things I can do without”
- Shout by Tears for Fears

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