As you all know by now, I am extremely proud of my two and a half year old son, Sebastian. He means so much to me that there is nothing that I can say to even come close to describing how much I love him. The pure joy he shows over the littlest things (like blowing bubbles) is my happiness. When he cries, I want to cry. When he laughs in his contagious, mischievous little giggle, I swear, it’s what I imagine an angel must sound like.
As his mother, I only want the best for him. If it were only possible, I would give him the world. But alas, there are some things that are beyond my control.
People have commented how sweet my child is, and I kvell. That he is cute as all hell, with his deep, serious-looking coffee colored eyes which are a contrast from his disarming, silly smile. That he seems alert, intelligent, that he has incredible gross and fine motor skills (hence his love of stacking and building towers out of anything he can get his hands on). But there is one major elephant in the room. A looming doubt that makes me question me and my parenting:
Why isn’t my son talking?
Yes, I’ve heard time and again (and again!) that boys tend to take longer than girls do when it comes to linguistic abilities. And that growing up in a bilingual environment is also a potential cause for further delay.
It has already been observed by different professionals, including a neurologist, that he is NOT autistic, that he is not mentally retarded. Nor is he hearing impaired. Ok, that’s fine. But still…
…why isn’t my son talking?
I replay scenes in my brain, scouring it for an answer, for a possible connection of what I may have done at some point during my undeniably stressful pregnancy or during his early infancy as to a clue of when I may have misstepped, and screwed up my child. The fact is, that as much as I love my son, I have NOT been the perfect parent (far from it).
According to the educational psychologist who worked with my son for a few sessions and her final written report, though he is supposedly not autistic, he does, in fact have some autistic-like tendencies. He does not respond to his name, and doesn’t understand and follow simple directions. He has yet to utter his first word when, by this point, he should be using three-word sentences. And the whole bilingual thing? By this point, I wouldn’t care if he started speaking in Mandarin, I just want to hear him talk!
He still doesn’t interact with others while playing (but from what I understand, isn’t the inclination toward parallel play still common at this age?). He has trouble verbally communicating and communicating in general, which is frustrating for both him and us.
It was recommended in the evaluation that he work with a speech therapist to get to the bottom of this. Though he is still very young, effective intervention as early as possible is key, but it still took my husband a considerable amount of time to finally find a speech therapist who works with kids Seba’s age, and who could fit us in. We got in, we had one session, and the therapist promptly suffered a stroke one week later.
Back to square one.
Why isn’t my son talking?
Being a firm believer that knowledge is power, I have been reading up on causes for speech delay in young children (and incidentally making myself sick with worry in the process). Everything from aplexia to something on the autism spectrum to Einstein syndrome are potential causes. Though I look for anything that might give me a hint, some insight into what is going on, I fully acknowledge that, despite the hours spent researching on my own, I am not medically qualified in any way and cannot rely on a checklist to diagnose my precious child.
So what’s a concerned mother to do?
I have to admit, a part of me is so anxious for him to speak for somewhat selfish reasons. It’s hard when my husband or I witness kids his age string together sentences, play word games with their parents, and sing silly songs. And I cannot even begin to explain how much I long for him just to call me “Mommy,” or to say “I love you.” My heart would positively burst. I have to be honest here, there are times I simply feel cheated.
The other day, the three of us went out for ice cream. While Fede has Seba in his arms, and I was paying at the register. There was a woman behind us who snapped at her little girl, because the girl was prattling on and on and on non-stop. “Basta!” she finally screeched at her daughter, grabbing her shoulder.
Though she may not have realized it, I secretly wanted to shake her, but all I could manage to do was sigh and roll my eyes. If only she knew.
All I want is for my son is what every loving parent wants for their child- to be happy, healthy, and to ultimately have a fulfilling, independent life. I don’t want him to fall behind, I don’t want him to be teased or judged or bullied. My heart breaks sometimes over this.
Then again, my son is a beautiful child and overall a very happy little boy.
Perhaps *I* am the one with the greater problem.
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