As most of you know, Cara has yet to truly begin to speak. She has, at times, uttered "Momma" and imitated animals sounds (she loves the elephant) but, that is all that she has been able to master. We (Ben & I along with other family and friends and therapists) have been concerned for Cara's lack of speech.
Up until last month, she was receiving speech therapy weekly in our home. Her speech therapist is currently on maternity leave and we decided, for Cara's sake, not to have a replacement while she was gone for a month, since it would be confusing for Cara and might do more harm than good as she was so comfortable with Angela. So, I've just been working with her on the goals that were outlined before Angela's maternity leave. I am proud to report that Cara has mastered several new signs--thank you, daddy, mommy, sister and sleepy--and while we are thrilled with this progress, we were hoping for more audible progress in the way of words.
At this point in time, the only consistent sounds that she makes is an "Ahh" sound along with the "Mmmm" and sometimes "Mmmmommmma". There are times when she will make other consonant sounds but its few and far between. We were told, that speech is the last of the skills that kids learn with gross motor and fine motor falling in first and second, respectively, and that we just had to be patient. Well, Cara is walking quite well and has mastered quite a few fine motor tasks as of late. With all of this progress in other areas, you can't blame us for saying, "What about speech?!"
There is obviously, no cognitive issues that are hampering her speech. It is abundantly clear to us that Cara is smart and knows what she wants to say, but just cannot get her brain and her mouth/vocal cords to comply. This is called Apraxia according to the medical profession. Angela diagnosed Cara with this awhile ago but firmly believes that Cara will overcome this with patience and practice. While Cara shows the signs of beginning speech--turn taking, copying--that's where it stops cold in its tracks.
That being said, I have started to wonder if there's not something more going on than just a simple speech delay. I have called the neurology clinic at Children's Hospital and we are on the waiting list for an appointment, in hopes of getting in before October. I want to talk with a neurologist about possible brain damage or some such in the part of the brain (front left, I believe) that controls speech as well as the frontal lobe which controls creative expression. I am hoping that a scan will be ordered to check these areas as we haven't had any type of scan done since post-op on Cara's shunt almost a year ago. Even if the scan shows nothing out of the ordinary, I will rest assured that we have done everything that we can to find a reason for Cara's lack of speech.
It may just be that we are going to have to be even more patient that we already have been...who knows. All that I can say, in my defense, is that it is extremely frustrating at times to decode the needs of my toddler from a never-ending stream of "Ahhhh"s. Don't get me wrong, she has ways of letting us know what she wants, but oh, to hear her say, "I'm hungry!" or something like that, would be music to these ears!
So, the search for answers has just begun for us. I promise to keep you all posted as we hope to learn more in the coming months.