Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Ernie woke up with streaming eyes, gooey nose, and the beginnings of an ear infection (after a very rough night sleep.) After a quick shower and a quicker breakfast (skim milk and whole wheat banana bread- at least those few bites she took were), Ernie and I headed out for her first speech therapy session this morning. Go ahead- ask me how our day went. I dare you ;o)

For everyone not involved in our immediate family, my daughter is three and has about 10 English words, 10 ASL, 10 "made up" words..and the rest of her communication is nods, gestures, pantomime, onomatopoeia, and "da da da diiiiiii, da da da diiiii." She gets her point across effectively most times (or at least enough of her point), but still- the child doesn't speak English, and has no desire to.

After the speech therapist (ST) asked me what I hoped to have happen today (I want to learn a few tricks and games to help Ernie WANT to speak), here is what happened:

  • Speech Therapist (ST) pointed at pictures, and very carefully asked E "What's this?" She would reply "Dadoy" (I don't know), and the ST would carefully say "House. House. House. Can you say that?" It took a few of these marvelous pictures for the ST to ask me if she'd ever imitated words. Ummm...no. To imitate a dog barking is a VERY recent development. The child does what she wants, when she wants to, and in her own way. Thankyouverymuch. (I'm very grateful that "her way" often means following directions promptly, just because she delights in getting things right and in order.)
  • We moved to her other book- Ernie was then asked to identify the spoon, big brown dog, little white cat in a box, big white cat outside of the box, the boy waiting for the girl to go down the slide, circles, squares, triangles, red balls, green balls, all colors of balls, etc.

  • A few questions I thought were funny, but the scorer marked her as wrong:
  • Which animal has the longest nose? She picked the squirrel, the correct answer was the mole. The mole had a little tiny nose on a snout, the squirrel had that whole honkin' thing on front of his face.
  • A picture of three girls: one short with well-fitting pants, one tall with short-fitting pants, one medium with too-long pants. Which one has the shortest pants? She picked the short girl: technically, her pants were smallest.
After 45 minutes of these questions, the ST moved on to body parts- wrist, elbow, forehead, eyelashes, etc. Each time Ernie said "No" rather than her normal "dadoy." I had to tell the ST- yes, she knows these. She's simply telling you "No, I won't tell you."

So, after all this the ST calculated the results of the test and declared that Ernie is comprehending at an age 4 level. Her comprehension is exactly average (huh?), and her speaking ability is 2 standard deviations below average. Please have her hearing tested, and bring her in for twice-a-week intensive parent/child therapy.

I stayed up late the night before reading a book called "The Einstein Syndrome." The basic premise of the book is this: There is a group of late-speaking children out there who are remarkably gifted. Oddly enough, the majority of them share these characteristics:
  • Close family members are either musicians, or in a highly analytical field such as engineering, mathematics, flight pilot, accountant, etc.
  • Children show remarkable patience at an early age for puzzles and other "building" games, and have an amazing ability to put these together.
  • Fantastic memory
  • Educated parents
  • Lagging social development
  • Delayed toilet training.
  • Normally boys
  • Can not have a back and forth conversation before age 4 1/2
Anyone who knows my family knows that these precisely describe Ernie (except for the boy part. But she prefers trucks over dolls.) His whole point seemed to be: Do not let someone label your child as autistic or unintelligent simply because of late-speaking. They thought Einstein was retarded, because he didn't speak until he was 5 and was ONLY interested in math. He flunked everything else, refusing to engage.



No-L said...

I think I should read this book, my nephew is going through the same things, he is SO smart but hardly says a thing. He is starting ST this week so we'll see how it goes.
I completely agree with what you said about not labeling the child, so what if a child isn't saying all the things we want them too it has nothing to do with how smart or how wonderful they are.

Ben & Casey said...

Ben didn't speak until he was 5. The pediatrician was worried but his mom wasn't because she could communicate with him. When he finally started talking at 5 he was talking in full sentences and he hasn't stopped since!

Don said...

Elizabeth is perfect and perfect does not always mean the same. We all want her to talk a bit more so that we can communicate better. She has made a lot of progress in the last two weeks as we are all focussing on it and she is going to be just fine. Keep playing games and keep encouraging her. You're right, we need more fun games that help, not a bunch of therapy. Checking her hearing when she can hear you whisper across the room is silly, just standard procedure. She's perfect, we will just play more word games.