Honestly, it's been a slow, humbling, refining few months.
Some days we don't worry at all. We hear amazing stories that encourage us to no end about so-and-so's kid who didn't talk until they were three and we believe she'll be chatting in her own good time. It seems like so many people know someone in our situation, or have been there themselves, and when those stories are shared with us it does wonders for our hearts. Hint: if you have one, tell me!
And then some days, we do. We worry for her. Due to her social skills, empathy, maturity, etc., Autism & Aspergers is ruled out, and we are so thankful for that. Most children with Autism or Aspergers begin with a speech delay, so of course that was our first fear. But it appears that her speech delay is not at all linked since her speech is slowly improving, she mimics sound, and was always a babbler (and only getting louder). If she had Autism or Aspergers, she would likely babble in her infancy, and slowly stop babbling by age one. She certainly wouldn't be gradually gaining sounds, words, or desiring to mimic our intonations, inflections, or sounds. Not to mention she doesn't fit the bill for those disorders in every other category (socially, etc). And we already knew her hearing was excellent as we had it checked a few months back.
We've also been traveling so much that sitting down with a speech pathologist just hasn't been possible. Now that we're more settled in Montreal for the long haul, we will begin with an evaluation and then go from there. We have been referred to two speech pathologists - both English speakers and both majoring in the physical/motor elements of speech delay. Due to Lily's vast understanding of words and social skills, it's been suggested that her delay is likely physical/motor (meaning something with the shape of her mouth or tongue that makes talking more difficult), so we were thrilled to find two English speech paths in this area. One is local but prefers to work with children over age three, since many kids before then are simply "late talkers" and she doesn't want to jump the gun. Sidenote: I love that this is her approach. I believe that not every child needs to hit the milestones on the exact day and have zero interest in keeping up with the Joneses on the playground. The other is farther away but would see Lily now. We'll have to decide who we go to, and haven't yet. It will likely boil down to availability and cost (though we have some coverage with insurance).
Now, the fun part. Her progress! Last time I blogged about Lily's speech delay, there wasn't much to say in terms of what she had to say. But she's made some great progress and we are so proud of her! Her understanding of words and concepts is huge. It's fun to ask her where certain things are and see her run to them because I'm always shocked at what she knows. Words I've never taught her but that she's just picked up because she's a smart cookie. She's also grown in her ability to understand long sentences, commands, and concepts. I'll give her somewhat complex tasks and she has no problem completing them (go put this object in this place, etc). Go, Lily!
She now very clearly says "bye-bye!", "poo-poo" (when she's gone #2, haha!), "mama", "car" (referring to almost anything with wheels), all the animal sounds (she used to only have "woof-woof") and says these all without prompting. With prompting (when we say "Lily, can you say ____") she can say a great deal of words that are mostly gross approximations, but close enough that we count them (such as "teech-a" for teacher). She's also started mimicking me sing. Recently I was singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat to her and she responsed very quietly, almost as if to test it out, "wo wo wo bot". Every attempt that even resembles a word is met with resounding cheers and loads of kisses and clapping. That part is the most fun for everyone :)
Where we sit most days is in the land of hope. We are very hopeful for Lily. We have hope because of her intelligence demonstrated non-verbally. We have hope because of her excellent hearing and understanding. We have hope when we hear stories of other kids who were simply "late talkers". We hope she is one of those.
But our deepest hope is in Jesus. That his plan for her is perfect. That his plan for our family is without error. No matter what the diagnosis or future, she'll never be too slow or too quiet. She'll be just right, for Him. He is the author of this speech delay, and it is humbling us. It humbles me when my friend's kids talk circles around her, but I know I need that. My joy in my kids can't be limited to their excelling or their milestones because those things are so fleeting. And if my hope is in Lily and not in Jesus then one day she will ultimately disappoint me, and I'll crush her. Hope isn't meant to be thrown on the backs of people. Hope was designed for Jesus. He brings it. He provides it. He is hope, incarnate.
I'll definitely keep you all abreast on how meeting with the speech pathologist(s) goes in the near future. She is at a point now where she's trying new sounds and words daily. She is hilarious and an absolute joy and we're so proud of the steps she's made.