Wednesday, April 1, 2009

All We Care About is Talking, Talking Only Me & You

I haven't talked all that much about our DS, whom I call "Rusty" for the purposes of this blog. We suspect he's what's known as "twice exceptional"- both intellectually gifted and disabled. In Rusty's case, he has speech and language delay. Although I've got serious reservations about getting involved with the government-run schools, tomorrow we've got a meeting with the district special education program to discuss an Individual Education Plan.

Our oldest, Miss Scarlet, has always been very advanced verbally. At 14 months, she answered my parents' first names when asked the question "who is that?" At 16 months, she knew color names including secondary ones (in fact, her first color word was "purple"). At 18 months, she knew all the letters and their sounds and was speaking in phrases of 3-5 words or longer. By 2 1/2, she was speaking more or less fluently, albeit with certain immature pronunciations (e.g. "f" instead of "th"). Now at age 6, she has a more sophisticated vocabulary than a sizable percentage of adults.

When Rusty had slower language development than his big sister I was not initially all that concerned. He was more advanced in certain other areas than Miss Scarlet had been at the same age. When he was 12 months, he could build a stack 6 blocks high. He excelled at puzzles, and at 2 1/2 figured out how to play a DVD without help (a two-step process). As he clearly was bright, I just figured we had the stereotypical mechanically inclined boy and verbal girl.

As he got older, however, I began to worry about his speech, particularly his articulation. Even though I spent all day with him, I had difficulty understanding much of what he was saying. He would say a whole long phrase and I might be able to figure out a single word. People who saw him less frequently like DH and other relatives basically found his speech unintelligible. I hoped he might just need some more time to develop, but eventually my mom goaded me into having a formal evaluation by a speech therapist. He was diagnosed as having articulation disorder with receptive and expressive language delay.

Between June of last year when Rusty had the evaluation and when he got off the waiting list for therapy at the end of September, his speech did improve quite a bit. But he still was behind what was typical for his age. He saw the therapist twice per week until our baby was born in January, and has been going once per week since we resumed therapy in February. Our health insurance covers 30 sessions per year plus another 30 with authorization, but we're still responsible for a $30/session co-pay. Fortunately, my parents have been generous enough to reimburse us for the co-pays thus far. But now that he's 3 and old enough to be covered under special education, we'd like to try to get the district to provide speech therapy.

I'm hoping that he'll continue the progress he's been making in therapy and outgrow the need for it before he reaches kindergarten age. If not, the district does supposedly offer an independent study program, which might be a possibility if there aren't too many strings attached (yeah, right).

This afternoon, I came across an intriguing book entitled The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late by Thomas Sowell, an economist at Stanford's Hoover Institution and the parent of a late-talking child. As I was reading the reviews, I recognized my child in what they were describing:
  • analytical
  • musical
  • strong-willed and stubborn
  • slow to toilet train
  • loves puzzles, blocks, and Legos
  • loving and affectionate but sometimes aloof
  • concentrates on some tasks & ignores requests/directives to perform other tasks
  • can work almost every tool and gadget in the house
  • relatives who are tech geeks and/or musicians
I've requested the book from the inter-library loan program. I'm curious to see what Dr. Sowell has to say in it. From the reviews, it appears that he takes a skeptical view of speech therapy. We've found that to be helpful with Rusty, and I'm not going to discontinue it based on the opinions of a single author. But I'm hopeful that the Einstein Syndrome book will help me better understand my little Mr. Mechanical.


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

As the parent of a twice-exceptional child, I understand all of your concerns.

I read Sowell's book when the Boychick seemed to be having language difficulties in his early years. I did nothing about it, and he learned to talk normally, although the things we talked about! But the Boychick did not have articulation problems, except for a slight lisp. He did have expressive language problems, receptive language problems and difficulties with language pragmatics.

He went to kindergarten with a Speech-Language disorder label, and that was enough to get him the other services he needed, such as occupational therapy (because he seemed to have problems with sensory integration). It was not until 3rd grade that we finally got the Asperger Syndrome diagnosis. And then, when we realized the magnitude of his needs, I quit my job and we took him out of school.

We had much very helpful therapy along the road of our journey in the country of Autism/Intellectual Giftedness. We found that when we followed our own instincts about what was best for our Boychick, he thrived.

Good luck to you! 2X kids are intellectually challenging and a whole lot of fun. They are uniquely wonderful. I wouldn't trade my Boychick for a "normal" kid. We have all benefited from his unique way of learning.

Crimson Wife said...

My DS does not show any symptoms of autism or Asperger's, and we've been told by his pediatrician, his speech therapist, and now the district special ed evaluators that they do not believe he has ASD.

The speech therapist suspects there may be an issue with his auditory processing, but he's too young at this point to be tested for that.

Activities Coordinator said...

I've got a critter just like your Rusty. In Louisiana he was seen in the 0-3 program, Speech TX, Occupational TX and a special ed. teacher all visited the house. No kidding. It is a fabulous program. From 3-6 we went to the local school for therapy and a different special ed.teacher came to the house.

Mississippi won't touch him.


Fortunately for him, his mother has her Master's degree in speech therapy. :)

Sorry to hear you're having to battle the system.

Tyler said...

I can't believe how much your Rusty sounds exactly like my DS. I had him evaluated and tested through our state funded program when he was 2. He started receiving speech therapy 2x a week. At 3 he entered a special education class for exactly everything rusty has struggles with. By the time he turned 4 he was in a special ed class that only had 3 other highly autistic children. He had come so far in his speech, he had really outgrown the class. I put him in a private preschool to transition him into a "regular classroom setting". He is currently 5 and receives speech once a month. (personally I am not sure how much he retains from one meeting a month.) Just keeping him socialized and around other children has really had a huge impact. I decided to homeschool him next year because I don't think the kindergarten class at our local public school would be the best learning enviorment. He doesn't fit a perfect "mold" or "label" but as long as I am getting and giving all that I can for him, that is all that matters. Sorry about such a long comment. I just totally relate!