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:
- 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