This post is hard to write.
As I write this, I've rewritten the title and introduction about 10 times. Very unlike my blogging style. Normally I just sit down and write. Normally I'm not writing about things that truly scare me. Guess that accounts for the discrepancy.
Our beautiful Lily is 18 months old and doesn't yet have a single word in her vocabulary. Not even Mama or Dada. She doesn't repeat words that we say. She doesn't address things or people with names. She just babbles her little heart out. She's not quiet by any stretch. She's not shy in the least. She is not timid. And she is very bright. I know, I'm her mom so it probably seems like I have to say that, but she really is. She learns quickly. She's inquisitive and interested and bold. Which is why we're beginning to be worried that she isn't talking.
The worrisome facts are that at 18 months, babies should have at least 20 words, and up to 50. They should be putting two words together, if not three. At 15 months, it's recommended that if a baby does not have a single word, they are referred for a hearing test and/or to a speech pathologist. 50% of babies who are not talking at 15 months are simply "late talkers", while the other 50% often have hearing or speech issues or other medical reasons for the delay.
I want to be clear - we are champions for letting kids grow and learn at their own pace. We aim to not worry if our kids miss a milestone by a couple of weeks or even months. And we really try our hardest not to compare our kids with their peers. We didn't bat an eye when Lily wasn't walking at 12 months like some of her friends. She was scooting - getting around - and we assumed (correctly) that she's walk when she was ready. At 15 months she did and now she runs around the house.
While some have suggested we take the same approach with Lily's speech, we see this issue differently. Many of the non-medical reasons for language delay don't apply to Lily, such as her demeanor and gender (shy kids and boys may speak later than bold kids and girls). She's also not exposed consistently to two languages (she'll learn French soon, but at home we only speak English right now), which can contribute to language delay. So with that and the encouragement from a speech pathologist and family doctor (both of whom we're so blessed to be friends with and have easy access to!), we had her hearing checked today.
I was skeptical because Lily listens to us and responds to noise all the time. We've never had reason to believe her hearing was problematic, but still, we were eager to have her tested. We could have the test done for free and wait two weeks for an appointment, or go with a private clinic, pay $110, and have the tests done the next day. We chose to go private this time, and Lily's test was done this afternoon. Her results show that she has either no hearing problems whatsoever, or a very mild hearing problem (that would have been undetected). We're doing a follow-up test in two months, but they were very positive that she has no hearing problems. So now what?
On the one hand, we're very relieved. Praise God our daughter is not hard of hearing or deaf! That would be life altering for our whole family, and I would never wish that for my daughter.
Could we survive it? Absolutely.
Would God still be good if Lily was deaf? Absolutely.
Am I glad she isn't? Absolutely.
On the other hand though, we're still left with a lot of questions. Our next step is to meet with a speech pathologist who will observe Lily and give Brad and I some exercises to do with her. Signing is one thing I wasn't planning on doing with my kids, but it was recommended already by our speech path, so I've been surfing YouTube and teaching Lily a couple of signs. She learned them so quickly and already uses them consistently. I'm so proud of her.
What about you? Do you sign with your kids? Have you worried about speech delay in your own kids? Have you been in this situation? Any advice or stories from experience are more than welcome :)