Unrelated questions


“Can I ask an unrelated question?”

“Sure.” She doesn’t sound sure. Her hand is on the doorknob and I’m sure she wants to make a quick exit, order that strep test she recommended for my fever-riden boy and move onto her next appointment for which, I know, she is already quite late. I have no doubt this is why doctors don’t stay on schedule. Unrelated questions.

“He is 20 months old,” I remind her, “and he’s not talking.”

“Not at all?” she asks.

“Well sometimes he says ‘No’ and he’s said ‘Mama’ but not always to me. He’s not consistent.”

“Not all of his language has to be understandable but he should have 20-30 words by now.”

“Yeah, he doesn’t. I called early intervention this morning.”

She nodded, “It’s time for an evaluation.”

I feel instantly validated, as if I have done the right thing, and simultaneously terrified that I’ve waited too long. And frustrated that I was led to a place of inaction, being told not to worry for so many months.

I blink back tears on the way home as my little boy struggles to stay awake and fight off a virus. Completely unrelated.


I have to admit that when I wrote last week about my little boy, I was worried but not alarmingly so. Concerned but comforted by our doctor’s previous assurances at every appointment since words should have begun to appear, that he was ok. He was communicating and understanding and developing in all the right ways, except for this one. I worried the same amount that I worried when neither of my children toddled off on their own two feet when the development checklist said they should. When sitting up for him did not happen on the same date that it did for her. I worried the same amount that I worry whenever we pass a milestone moment without placing a check in any box, development complete.

But I didn’t worry too much because milestones are general and people are individuals. We all do our own thing. Lord knows I’m not as developed as a normal 33 year old should be in all the appropriate areas. [Tweet “Growth keeps happening.”]

And for a while, I worried, but not alarmingly so, because I didn’t look around. I didn’t want to hear about your child who also wasn’t talking at this age. I didn’t want to talk about your little one who has a delay or a special need. I didn’t want to think about it because I didn’t want to think about it. And for a while I believed that if I didn’t think about it, he would just start talking and I wouldn’t have to think about it. Time would move on and one day I’d look up and realize I never looked around and now it was all over, so I’d move back to eavesdropping on the chatter between my two little humans and continue along our day.

little boy head

Last week, I looked up and I looked around and I’m glad that I did.

Because now, I’m hearing about your child who wasn’t talking at this age. And I’m talking with you about your little one who has a delay or special need. And I’m thinking about it and doing about it.

We’re waiting for early intervention to call us back. We’re taking down names of specialists from anyone who has one to recommend. We’re reading this site daily and looking at this one too, just in case. We’re looking up and around and we’re talking about it.

I may not share a ton about the next steps of all of this here. Or I may share it openly and without apology and you might get tired of hearing about it. I’ve never been through something like this before and I’m not all that much of a sharer of things like this but I’m also a writer now, full time and on my own and that has made me braver about telling you my story.

But, either way, thank you for your support. For consoling me and reaching out to me and comforting me and recommending to me and sharing your story with me. We wouldn’t be here, in this place right now, without you and it’s good that we’re here.


  1. It is a good place to be. You are taking the steps and moving forward to whatever the future may hold. That is all we can do as parents, as people. So glad that others have reached out with comfort and support.
    Thinking of you and and wishing you well.
    Kim recently posted..Marriage: Not a Seafaring Fairy TaleMy Profile

  2. I have moments where I regret that we waited. By two we did speech & hearing screenings, but no one ever said to follow up with EI. Kudos to you for scheduling an evaluation. It can do nothing but enrich your child’s life.

    My one piece of advice: don’t be afraid to use Alternative-Augmentative Communication (AAC). There are some therapists that think this replace vocal language. Not so according to research and anecdotal evidence. I’d be happy to provide links if you find you need them later on.

    Good luck!
    that cynking feeling recently posted..silent frequenciesMy Profile

  3. There’s that balance, Tricia, between asking for help and practicing patience. You’ve just reached the intersection. That’s where the good parenting decisions happen. In the long term, I have a feeling this will be a blip. From here, it’s just a mama giving her child space for individual progress, not looking the other way, and finding out more.

    You’ll follow this pattern more as a parent. You’ll see.
    Eli@coachdaddy recently posted..Guest Post: Gina from Glamorous Life of a Soccer Mom, on Choosing Your RelativesMy Profile

    • I want to echo Eli’s sentiments. I too find myself torn between the fear that something is wrong and the fear of overreacting. Too often it seems like we’re told not to worry until all of a sudden we’re told to worry. Does that make sense? It’s like a flip switches in the doctors or caregivers, and those that previously gave us comfort now encourage us to take action. All of that is to say, you’re doing the right thing at the right time.
      Katie @ Pick Any Two recently posted..Blueberry Coconut Baked OatmealMy Profile

  4. I’m so glad you’re feeling validated. And I’ve honestly never heard a bad story about Early Intervention. And I’ve heard a lot of stories about them. I think it’s easy for our parents and grandparents to just assume all will be ok. My mom didn’t walk until 23 months but back then, no Early Intervention.
    I firmly believe that unless something is seriously wrong, which is sometimes the case, everyone does catch up around the same time.
    People just take different methods to get there.
    Tamara recently posted..Nearly Wordless Wednesday: A Quirky Compilation.My Profile

  5. You are doing the right thing. If there is a problem, you can begin to address it. If there is not, you will be comforted and be more at peace about the whole thing. Either way, it is a positive. I’m glad you are finding support and feeling validated.
    Lisa @ The Golden Spoons recently posted..My Favorite Apps {Tuesday Ten Linkup}My Profile

  6. Hey Tricia! Just reading this (and enjoying your blog!)– we had a similar situation with Stefan at around 18 months. I was torn about whether to wait and see as well, but I’m so glad I called for the evaluation. It turned out he needed ear tubes. We had a speech pathologist come every week for about a year and she was awesome. He caught up really fast. Good luck, it will be okay! Liz R.

  7. I can totally relate to that inaction you feel because you don’t want to appear like an over-reacting parent…and not trying to worry yourself crazy every day over that milestone chart. All 3 of my kids reached their milestones at different times. But it was my 2nd – the middle – that wasn’t talking by almost 2 years either. She seemed to understand everything said to her and would say the odd word — but she certainly did not have a “vocabulary” at all it seemed.
    So I broke down and asked the doctor at her 2 year appointment.
    Turns out in our case that it was simply her older brother doing all the talking and she was content to just watch and listen. He would answer for her — something we at first thought was sooo cute.
    Well once we talked with her and said she could answer for herself…. I don’t wanna say we regret that: but honestly, this child has not Stopped talking every since. LOL
    But in the end, I am glad I risked looking foolish and asked the question! If we hadn’t taken even what was simple measures in the end, who knows how long she would have been silent.
    Rorybore recently posted..Toying with my PonderingsMy Profile

  8. I’m glad that you reached out and that you made the appointment with early intervention. Children are individual and develop on different time lines but that also doesn’t mean that you have to go through this alone or unsupported or without some guidance or assistance. Thinking of you.

  9. Absolutely the right thing to do, in case something does need to be done. My younger son wasn’t talking at age two – not even mama. He had a kind of grunt language that seemed to work well for him, but worried us. Everything turned out fine and by 2 and a half he was talking in sentences. Positive thoughts sent your way.
    Lana recently posted..Memories of FirefliesMy Profile

  10. So many hugs to you … this place of uncertainty is a difficult place to be (I was there with my son). Will send much support your way. And god bless nurses/docs who listen to the unrelated questions and take them seriously. Put this site in your back pocket — you may need/want it someday: http://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com/.
    Paula Kiger recently posted..“Pronouns Matter” and Other Favorite QuotesMy Profile

  11. I want you to know that Cassidy was delayed on everything… EVERYTHING. we had physical therapy, sensory integration issues, and speech therapy… she was in early intervention, home care, MRDD school until she was 3. She was in special ed pre-school and barely made it through her early years…

    And I cried. And prayed. And paced. And worried.

    Each child will grow and develop on their own… with help- or without.

    I promise.

    You will see this through.

    And your sweet child?

    Baby steps, my friend. Trust that and reach out and gain the support you need.

    Your story will have a beautiful ending either way he goes…

    Chris Carter recently posted..Hope for the Hopeless…My Profile

  12. I waited and waited and then waited some more. I finally called for an evaluation and we are enjoying route to therapy now. I am hopeful that we will see progress. I regret listening to all the other parents who told me that every child develops at their own pace.

    We are all experts on children but sometimes we forget that our expertise is in the area of our children only. I am in expert in my child and have known for months that his development was delayed and yet I allowed myself to listen to all the other experts. That is my only regret….not trusting myself.

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