To Speak or Not to Speak
In February, I brought my newly turned three-year-old to her well visit and told them I was concerned that she wasn’t speaking much yet. They tested her hearing, but she had trouble keeping the ear buds in, so it was inconclusive. They told me not to worry too much, but that they would give her a speech referral. After calling every speech center in the Greater New Orleans Area, I quickly realized it wouldn’t be until the end of June when we could get an appointment for a speech and hearing tests.
In the meantime, I enrolled her into play therapy to see if I could “coax” her into speaking on her own. You see, she can read flash cards. She can count to 20. She knows her colors and shapes and the name of everyone in the family, and the dogs. She knows what she wants but seems to have a hard time vocalizing it. She often throws tantrums over what seems like nothing. She spaces out often and doesn’t make very good eye contact. She babbles and has her “own language.” She’s playful and snuggly and enjoys interaction … but only on her terms. She will mimic language but often can’t seem to get the words out on her own.
The Scary News
After the first play therapy session, the therapist called me and said we needed to have her evaluated for Autism/Asperger’s. In case you were wondering, it’s even more difficult to find someone in New Orleans to do an evaluation for Autism as it is to have a speech and hearing test. We’re looking at July for a best-case scenario. Children’s Hospital has a 6 month wait and 600 children on their waiting list.
Don’t Freak Out
So for the next few months, I’m going to try NOT to freak out. I’m going to continue to celebrate my little girl’s successes on a timeline that works for her. I’m going to keep pushing her, teaching her and encouraging her to speak when she’s ready. I’m going to be patient with her meltdowns and try to understand there may be something more going on. I’m going to keep stalking every doctor in NOLA to try to get her in sooner, while holding out hope that we make strong progress by then.
While facing this scary diagnosis, I am grateful that my little girl was chosen to be in my life. No matter what the outcome, I have more love in my heart and more patience than I even knew. I was chosen to be her mother because I can handle what’s to come, in any form it comes in. I will continue to advocate for my daughter for as long as it takes. And I will NOT freak out…