When Wyatt was still on the bottle, we couldn’t say the B-word without him running to the kitchen, pointing at the refrigerator and dragging out the gallon of milk once we opened the door.
If we reached for a sippy cup, he shook his head of red curls vigorously and pointed at the counter where the bottles were stored.
A child development professional might have picked up on the fact that I just mentioned Wyatt pointing at what he wanted instead of using words.
Wyatt’s lack of vocabulary has been a concern of mine for months. Although he babbled all the time, he communicated mostly through points and grunts.
Although he wasn’t talking much, Wyatt understood everything we were saying.
One time he heard my mother say that she couldn’t see something on her cell phone without her glasses, so he found her reading glasses and brought them to her.
Everybody told me not to worry. They reminded me that he is practically still a baby. They assured me that he is too smart to have a speech problem.
I have never doubted Wyatt’s intelligence. He is an observer of the world. He overlooks nothing and remembers everything.
It’s because I believe Wyatt is so smart that I wanted him to talk. I know he is having so many funny, insightful thoughts, and I can’t wait to hear them.
His pediatrician wasn’t too worried about Wyatt’s speech development at his 18-month checkup in November. However, he said he would make a referral if there had not been some improvement by the time Wyatt turns two in April.
Wyatt’s vocabulary didn’t grow over the next month, but my obsession with it did. In mid-December, I called the Arc of Walker County and scheduled an appointment with Early Intervention director Angela Washington.
If there was a problem, I trusted that she would diagnosis it and know what to do about it. If there wasn’t, I could stop driving myself crazy.
Wyatt never even knew he was being evaluated during our visit with Angela and speech therapist Lisa Roper. He played with Lisa and Zac while I answered a series of questions about his abilities and behavior.
The test proved what we already suspected — Wyatt is a happy, healthy little boy.
He was on target at 20 months in all categories except expressive language, in which he was given a score of 10 months.
Lisa and Angela both said that he has all the tools he needs to be talking. The only reason he isn’t is because his cute little grin has been getting him what he wants without him having to go to the trouble of using words.
As long as the system he has developed isn’t broken, my kid isn’t going to fix it.
Wyatt’s delay is slight but significant enough that he qualifies for services through the Arc’s Early Intervention program.
Lisa and family trainer Sara Richardson are going to be coming to our home a couple of times a month until Wyatt gets up to speed on his speech.
He has had only two sessions so far and already seems to be saying a handful of new words every day. He is also consistently using some of the sign language they are teaching him for things like “More” and “I want it.”
A friend of mine who knows and loves Wyatt reminded me recently that he has always done things his own way and in his own time.
It’s as if he has decided, “Fine. If Mommy’s so freaked out that she is calling in the cavalry, then I’ll talk a little more to make her feel better.”
I also think that he is enjoying the attention he is getting from Lisa and Sara. They know it’s therapy, but my little lady’s man thinks it is flirting.
Maybe Wyatt would have overcome his speech delay on his own. However, there are a lot of local children with much more severe problems who benefit greatly from having the Arc in our area.
Unfortunately, nonprofit organizations like the Arc are some of the first groups to be affected when the government falls on hard times.
The Early Intervention program that is helping Wyatt experienced a 30 percent loss in funding last year and more cuts are expected in the future.
Last week’s Alabama Gives Day was a great opportunity to show some appreciation for the Arc. However, our support is needed year-round so its services can continue.
Our family looks forward to having the Arc’s caring, professional staff in our life as long as is necessary.