A Different Kind of Okay
July 12, 2007
Well. He's speech delayed. All official-like.
Oh, dial back on the melodrama, Self. Whatever. He's okay. I'm okay!
I was a little late to our appointment. Because I kept changing my shirt. I was looking for my most-capable-looking outfit, as Cher Horowitz would say, and couldn't figure out how best to look like a responsible, informed mother...but, you know, not like a helicoptering stage mother who spends too much time on Google. I am thinking that mother owns a lot of sweater sets.
In the end, I wore shorts and a tank top. But! I wore a BELT. I was READY.
I read all of your lovely comments while we waited in the exam room (iPhone! iPhoneiPhoneiPhonemmmm), and after the dozenth or so story about a late-talking kid who went on to be perfectly fine and smart and become President of the United States and inventor of the TiVo, I began to feel really silly for even being there. This is ridiculous! He's fine!
So I shoved my phone back in my bag and waited for the doctor to come in and tell me how fine everything was.
Noah was particularly charming during the entire appointment and clearly developed a wee little grandpa crush on his doctor. He kept hugging him. He slapped him five and grinned like a loon and the doctor declared him utterly delightful.
The only thing he did not do was talk. At all. Not a word.
I rattled off all of our words: Aball. Adada. Amama. Ababy. Car. Banana. Oh no.
"Banana?" the doctor asked. "Does he really say the whole word?"
"Well. No. It's more like nana."
He nodded. And then he crossed it off the list. Not even partial credit! Way harsh!
I listed our sort-of words. Ball-ball for bye-bye. Eee for eyes. Dar for star and awawa for butterfly. Nah for Noah. I didn't mention abeer, but Noah hasn't said that in ages anyway.
I told him how Noah loses words or simplifies them over time. That's when he noticed Noah was walking on his tiptoes.
"Does he do that a lot?"
As today's modern neurotic parent knows, walking on tiptoes is your one-way ticket to the magical, fuzzy land of "sensory integration issues." Add in some drooling, tantrums at Gymboree and a heap load of food and texture issues...and bam! You've just been upgraded to first-class.
The doctor took one look at my face (which, did I mention by this point I'd broken out in lovely Something-About-Mary-style hives all over my face and neck? Because I totally did. So much for my capable-looking tank top.), and immediately began to tell me over and over (and over again) that no! NOT AUTISM! NOT ASPERGER'S! WE ARE NOT TALKING AUTISM HERE PLEASE DON'T FREAK OUT.
I assured him that while yes, I am a neurotic mess, autism has never once been on my list of Things That Could Be Wrong With My Kid. (Thing #1: Almost Too Cute And Delicious, Thus Irresistible To Bears.) Who, by the way, is trying to tickle your thigh. Could you please indulge him and pretend to laugh, Doctor?
"Don't call yourself that." he said, while miming a hearty knee-slap. "I mean it. This is your child. You're supposed to worry about him."
So. Noah definitely falls into the 25% delayed or more category, and qualifies for a more thorough evaluation. His doctor strongly believes some kind of sensory processing problem is the cause, but that it's probably nothing that can't be corrected before kindergarten.
I now have a list of early intervention centers and phone numbers, with the words DON'T PANIC written on it in large, friendly letters. (I may have written them. I have lovely -- if remarkably childlike -- penmanship.) And I've been advised to start signing with him. (Karma has bitten me in the ass. And it has a beak. Like a duck.)
Part of me wonders if we're just making A Thing out of Not A Thing. Part of me feels relieved that this prickle of worry that I've been simultaneously ignoring and stressing about for months may have been justified. That all those times I said, "I think there might be something up with Noah's speech," only to get brushed of with a dismissive wave from friends ("Oh, stop being so neurotic"), I was actually right.
Most of me wishes I'd been wrong. But all of me will do whatever Noah needs me to do, and will love him just the way he is, because please. He's fine. He's okay. He's perfect.