09 October 2010

The Reluctant Scholar

So, my mother, the retired pediatric nurse practioner, warned me that kids don't progress evenly. They tend to leap forward all at once, then just sit of chill and tread water for awhile (how's that for a mixed metaphor?). It's exciting during the leap periods and, if you're like me, a little worrisome during the chill periods.

Faithful readers (um, are there any? Maybe?) know that Eamon had his tongue and lip frenula clipped recently. He was tongue-tied, and it turned out that he was lip-tied, too, and wasn't saying much at all by 18 months of age. Maybe 1 or 2 words, and those weren't particularly consistent. He stopped babbling pretty much completely, and was totally resorting to sign language.

His pushy mother (you know, me) pushed for the tongue-release surgery. Within 2 weeks afterwards, Eamon started babbling a litle more and trying out new sounds. And then he kind of stopped again. And I worried. Had I put my child through pain and trauma for nothing? Was there something MORE wrong? Would he actually need speech therapy? I only really expressed these fears to my mother because I was afraid that everyone else would just dismiss my fears and tell me to be patient and just wait it out.

My mother didn't dismiss my fears, but she did tell me to be patient and wait until at least 2 before I started to really worry.

So we waited. I knew the lack of speech wasn't an autistic issue (the child looooves people, stimulus, and interaction). I was pretty sure it wasn't a processing issue because Eamon could follow directions just fine...when he wanted to. So I was okay (sort of) with just waiting it out.

And it paid off. So, good job there, Mom. In the past few weeks, Eamon has suddenly started speaking a lot more. His words aren't always entirely clear ("book" comes out "bk," for instance), but he is attempting all kinds of words. He's also gone back to babbling, trying out different sounds even if he can't use them in words ("p," "s," "l"). He know reliably says at least 15 words, with more being added every day. He still uses some of his sign language, but even attempts those words (the other day, I got a "peas" for "please").

The thing about Eamon, though, is that it can sometimes be hard to assess what he does and does not know because he has no interest in showing off. He seems to feel that if he knows it, and he knows that he knows it, why does he need to show anyone else? If you ask him to say a word (even one that it's been proven that he can say), he just shakes his head, smiles, and says "No." If he says something new, and you ask him to repeat it to make sure that he really did say it, he refuses. But he'll repeat it later when he feels like it, and you realize that he really did know it the whole time.

(Sometimes I get the feeling he thinks I am rather unintelligent because I keep asking him to repeat things. He gets this look on his face like, "What? Did you not get it the first time?")

But I'm pretty sure that he's pretty smart, whether he feels the need to show anyone or not. He loves counting and if I ask him to show one finger, he can. He won't do more, but I think it's more because he doesn't have the fine motor coordination yet to hold up 2. He understands the concept of three books before bed (protests if he doesn't get 3, but never expects more, jumping straight up to brush his teeth after the third book).

Also, the other day while reading with my mother, he pointed to the letter "O" and said "O." He then pointed to the letter "M" and said "mmmmm." He wouldn't do it again for her, but the next day I pointed to a magnetic letter O on our fridge and said, "What is that?" and he immediately said "O." He then pointed to the letter "E" and said "eeee."

I next asked him about the letter M but he just started yelling "No no no no no!" because, come on lady, how many of these stupid letters do you need me to say? I got the feeling that he thought I should know those letters; if I didn't, that wasn't his problem, and maybe I should be the one practicing.

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