Baby development screens
When I held my baby, and even when she was in utero, I had visions and dreams of her being this incredibly verbose child with a large vocabulary. In fact, I dreamed she would be like me. The first few months brought all the regular milestones: tracking with her eyes, smiles, giggles, and even rolling over.
However, she did have a case of very pointy toes. So pointy in fact, I couldn’t get her foot into a flexed position to even put on shoes. During her developmental screens I filled out at the doctor’s office, she started losing pace. Motorically, she wasn’t able to sit alone without help at 6 months, she wasn’t crawling, or even able to get up on her legs and rock back and forth. Verbally, she wasn’t babbling. She would coo, but not babble. I just didn’t get it. Despite my almost constant visual modeling and babbling to her, she would just smile and giggle. I put her in front of mirrors to have her look at her mouth, but she appeared disinterested. I consulted with other colleagues who gave me all the suggestions I was already doing, and told me not to worry. There was one colleague who suggested baby sign and told me lack of babbling was a sign of apraxia, but I wasn’t ready to hear that. However, I did start signing with her. I bought the signing time videos and signed to her throughout the day. Peculiarly though, she wasn’t able to imitate my signs either.
To address the pointy toes, her pediatrician and I discussed the possibility of CP based on my case history of her delivery. We talked about a referral to a neurologist, but I was convinced I could help her. The pediatrician told me to work out her calves daily which I did religiously every night in the bathtub. Her calves were so tight and I would have to massage them until I could finally get a small flex in her foot. By a year she was able to flex her feet and I was praised by the pediatrician who said it was so great she had such a knowledgeable momma. I didn’t realize this would start my damaging thought process that if I sought help I wasn’t being a good mommy.
Since she only had one word “hi” at 1 year and wasn’t even babbling other sounds, the pediatrician raised her eyebrows and told me she could make a referral to child find. However, I was convinced that another SLP couldn’t do anymore 30 minutes or 60 minutes a week than what I was doing with her every spare chance. I utilized all my therapy techniques. We continued with sign, even though she only caught on to a few, and we played while making various sounds, since imitating sounds precede speech. I bought a play zoo and play farm and I made the noises the various animals make while she sat quietly and giggled. I would ask her to say, “moo” or “quack” and she would just smile. We played with cars and pull toys while I made the sounds “vroom, bonk, beep beep, etc.” She wouldn’t utter even a sound. I bought and read books that were repetitive such as “Brown Bear” or books that had sounds such as “Mr. Brown can Moo, Can You?” I was so frustrated as the days went on, but continued to try and work with her every night after work KNOWING that these techniques are evidence based and WORK! I kept telling myself I knew they would work eventually. I remembered reading a study in regard to the Hanen therapy model of teaching parents how to work with their children with a speech delay. In it, the authors said that the techniques are used by parents of typically developing children that are just abandoned by parents of children with a speech delay because they don’t appear to be working. If there is no reward or positive feedback (i.e. the child mooing when the parent moos), than the parent will not do that anymore. I was determined to stick with the techniques despite weeks and months going by without them seeming to work.
My husband, sensing my frustration, bought a baby babble CD. He explained it wasn’t to undermine me, but just to help. I was actually relieved. Maybe they knew something I didn’t. There was a tip section for parents on working with children. I watched it over and over hoping to glean something I wasn’t doing, but I was doing everything they suggested and then some. Ashlynn was so smart, but why wasn’t she talking??