As a first time mom, I have wondered quite often if what my son does is “normal” or “okay”. Since he had so much catching up to do early on, we were constantly striving towards goals. First we had to teach him to sit unsupported (11 months), then to sit up on his own (12.5 months), then to talk (first words at 13.5 months), then to crawl (14 months), and then to walk (15.5 months). While we knew that he hit each of those milestones late (according to what the masses feel is normal, anyway), we were thrilled when he met them.
Little Dude started physical therapy in February to work on gross motor skills. These services were made available to us through Early Intervention. (A side note: I cannot believe that such services are available and people don’t take advantage of them. It’s simply amazing.) The PT really helped us to help Little Dude meet his developmental milestones quickly. By the time July rolled around, the PT was satisfied with his progress and recommended releasing him from the program. While I agreed that he didn’t need her specific services any longer, I disagreed with removing him from the program entirely.
Little Dude started talking back in March with “dada”, followed by “dog” and “wall”. (Mama came several words later. Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!) He added words as the weeks went by, and we were happy. He had his adorable little ways of saying certain words that just made me smile. As the weeks and months passed, his vocabulary was expanding by leaps and bounds, but he was not getting any clearer. His words were very hard to understand, and hardly any were understood by anyone except for me. By 17 months, Little Dude still didn’t have any teeth, and I couldn’t tell how much of this language issue could relate to that. I told the PT that I wanted to keep him in the program until he started getting teeth to see how/if things changed.
The teeth started coming in (slooooooooowly) but he didn’t become any clearer. I began requesting an evaluation by a speech therapist through Early Intervention. The PT told me that she didn’t feel like he was far behind, and didn’t know if she could get the evaluation for me. Everyone I talked to told me that he was fine and not to worry. I know they were thinking I was overreacting, and that it was just me being a first time mom. I persisted.
I kept pushing, and finally got the evaluation scheduled. Within 5 minutes – that’s right, 5 minutes – the therapist said that she though Little Dude should see an ENT to see if he might have fluid in his ears. She also agreed with me and said that speech therapy would be a very good idea for Little Dude. We were assigned a different speech therapist for the ongoing sessions. During the first few minutes of our first session with her, she also recommended that we take Little Dude to see an ENT. She too was concerned about fluid in his ears.
Since we met Little Dude back in August 2011, he’s had a runny nose and cough. We’ve been to the pediatrician several times about it, and he’s been on several courses of antibiotics. We have had very few days where we haven’t had to chase him to wipe his nose. I asked the doctor why it was constantly an issue, and she responded by saying that some kids just have runny noses. I knew that this was true to a degree, but something just seemed off to me. I felt like this was more than a runny nose. Both speech therapists were concerned by this as well.
I called the ENT and got a consultation scheduled right after the New Year. The doctor did a quick examination and ordered an xray, suspicious of enlarged adenoids. He also said he suspected fluid in Little Dude’s ears. The xray confirmed that his adenoids were enlarged, and the doctor ordered surgery to have them removed. He said that while they had him under they’d look in his ears. He was fairly certain he’d be putting tubes in as well.
Little Dude had the surgery last Wednesday (6 days ago). The doctor said his adenoids were HUGE. He also said that they found lots of fluid in his ears and that it was the consistency of rubber cement. Yuck. He estimates that Little Dude had hearing loss significant enough to warrant hearing aids.
In the few days that have passed since Little Dude’s surgery, we have already seen improvement. He is talking more, repeating more, and actually becoming more clear. He is singing more and is whispering a lot. He loves to hear his voice and makes all sorts of sounds just to hear them. It’s been amazing.
So what’s the lesson to learn here? Mothers and fathers might not have medical degrees, but they know their kids. If you are a stay at home parent, you spend tons of hours with your kids – many, many times more than your pediatrician or other professional does. If you think that there is something that you can do (or have done) for your child that will help him or her to reach their fullest potential, you can be pushy. You can be downright annoying if you have to be. But you can’t quit. You owe it to your child to get them what they need before it becomes a problem. Don’t let the doctor who sees your kids for 10 minutes twice a year tell you that your child is “fine” and “don’t worry”. Insist. Demand. Just don’t be a jerk about it, and make sure you are being realistic.