“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.
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.
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.