My parents say they’re grateful that our early home movies have no sound because….me. Blab, blab, blab. I’ve always been a chatty Kathy Lisa. I have a lot to say, but I listen too.
My son conversates just like me (real word even though Spellcheck is screaming “Can’t you see the red squiggly line??”). He starts talking from the time he rolls out of bed and continues asking questions and sharing ideas and jokes and facts and observations all. day. long. But he too knows how to listen. His big brown eyes open wide while I’ll telling him a story and he pauses before he speaks to make sure he really processes what’s been said. I love this boy.
Our daughter, she has a lot to say tool. The trouble is her “talker gene” is broken. She knows what she wants to say, but struggles to get the words to line up in an orderly fashion to march them across her vocal chords and out to listening ears around her.
When Avery was a baby we were advised to teach her sign language as speech would not come easy. In fact, we were warned that she might never be able to communicate verbally. So we taught her and ourselves to sign. In the early years, this method of communication proved invaluable.With time and speech therapy, she began to speak. Only one word at first. Then three and four word simple sentences. She could always communicate her thoughts and emotions with her expressions and actions, but now she was able to tell us what she was thinking and feeling.
In third grade her speech plateaued. We understood her because our family speaks fluent Avery-ese. However others find it difficult to make out a lot of what she says. It’s a matter of articulation. She has difficulty producing many of the sounds needed to make words. Like, she’ll say “pwown” for clown or “bwove” for glove. The thing is, she is aware that it doesn’t sound right the second she says it and is frustrated. Imagine knowing what you want to say, but not being able to make it happen.
Avery’s most recent speech assessment results just came in. Obviously we know there are significant delays. But to actually hear how severe it really is was upsetting.
Avery scored in the 1st percentile across the test. Usually coming in first is a good thing, but not in this case. A percentile score refers to placement on a test compared to others of the same chronological age—the higher the percentile ranking, the stronger the performance. The wide average range for scores is between the 16th and 84th percentile. A score below the 9th percentile is a mild delay, a score around the 4th is a moderate delay, the 2-3rd percentile indicates a severe delay. Those who fall into the 1st percentile have a “profound delay.” Profound as in definition #1 below.
So we have work to do. More intensive speech therapy. More gentle patience. More articulation exercises disguised as fun games. More vocabulary finding field trips. More strategies for us, and for those trying to understand. It’s frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world.
Like I said, Avery has never had trouble conveying her emotions and getting her point across.
And despite this being upsetting for me, a habitual conversater, I’m not losing sight of what really matters. The last line of her speech report speaks volumes.