I’m a little late, but Little Miss Minion is 18 months old chronological! This is a big deal for a couple of reasons. First, it means we are halfway through adjusting for prematurity. We will adjust for one year per month of prematurity. Since LMM was born three months early, we will adjust for three years. The other reason is that she is able to be evaluated for speech therapy. Our early intervention explained that 18 months is the absolute earliest that they will consider speech assessments, simply because there is a wide range of normal development. Luckily, they go by chronological age for therapy purposes, so we had our first meeting with the speech therapist today.
I have been pushing for speech therapy for a couple weeks because LMM isn’t really talking yet. She says Mama, Dada, and that’s pretty much it. She “should” have around five words by now. She uses sign language and pointing to communicate, which is really good, but she needs to vocalize as well. There are a multitude of reasons why she might not be talking yet. She could be working on another skill, she could be closer to her adjusted age in talking, or she could have hearing damage. I’ll be talking to our NICU follow up team regarding this possibility at our next appointment in the spring. LMM had meningitis in the NICU, which in itself can cause hearing damage. The drugs used to treat it can also cause hearing damage. On top of that, she has frequent ear infections, which can cause hearing damage or leave residual fluid in the ear that can obstruct sounds.
The speech therapist mostly asked us questions about LMMs birth, complications, and what she is usually like. We played with LMM while the therapist asked us things about hydrocephalus, what sounds LMM makes, etc. After the assessment, she has to write up a report and submit it to the team. She did say that she thinks LMM will benefit from twice monthly visits from a speech therapist, and gave us some “homework” to do in the meantime. No baby talk (which we don’t do anyway), no noisy toys (so she has to provide her own noises), and lots of talking by Mr Minion and myself. We will be reading to her more, talking more, and the part of the homework that LMM already dislikes: making her work for things. Usually, she would point or sign for something and we would briefly say something like “here you go, here is your ball/banana/puffs/etc.” Now, she will have to vocalize in order to get things that she wants. She will point or sign, and we will be asking her what she wants, if she wants the ball/banana/whatever. She doesn’t get it until she makes an attempt at saying it.
I went through her library this afternoon and pulled out some new books that will be good for this. There is a book with 100 sight words in it, another that is rhyming with sight words, and some board books.
I should have the report by next week, so I’ll update when I know more. In the meantime, we will be talking ourselves silly!