When Abraham had his 15 month well baby check up, he was given a clean bill of health and a developmental thumbs up. Oh, and no head diseases, so that was good to hear.
The one negative the doc had for me was Abe’s lack of language. He really can’t say any words at all. She recommended that I get him an evaluation by one of those state-funded early developmental intervention programs. It’s clear that it’s her job to tell everyone that they have this option, but she clearly didn’t consider the type of mother I am. I would have assumed there was some kind of note in Abe’s file like, “Mother is a rule-based nazi” or “Mother is completely literal” or “Mother cannot separate suggestion from I-MUST-DO-THIS-RIGHT-NOW-FOR-MY-CHILD-TO-LIVE”.
So I made an appointment at the early intervention program the next day.
Between the time I made the appointment and the day we went, Abe moved closer to 1 nap a day. This mean the appointment now fell smack dab in the middle of naptime. Perfect.
A doctor brought us into a little room where Abraham began fussing, crying, and whining. I think I uttered, “It’s naptime” about 72 times. That’s when I started trying to talk to myself.
Stop. Don’t be that mom. She’s seen it all. She works with children who have severe developmental delays. A tantrum is not going to throw her.
She began asking me questions. Do I think he has hearing problems? Has he ever been hospitalized? Does he understand brief commands? She began doing these fun little exercises with him like put the ball in the cup, play with the car, pick up the cheerio. He did all of these things easily.
Cohen 1, Doctor 0
Then she put pretend scissors on the table. He reached for them and she said, “NO!” in a super mean tone.
WTF? Stop yelling at my baby, woman. You clearly put the scissors in front of him to taunt him and then you yelled at him Why would anyone do that??
Abe didn’t let go. He left his hand on the scissors and laid his head down on my knee. I wanted to comfort him from the nasty old woman. “I think he just doesn’t know you and isn’t sure…”
“Oh no, he responded perfectly, Erin!. He pouted. That’s just what we want to see.”
Oh, right. Shut up, Erin.
She threw him a bouncy ball and Abe immediately threw it back.
She called his name and pointed at something. He looked at her and then look toward where she was pointing.
Perfect baby!! Perfect 10!!
She started asking about how many words he has and that’s when my throat started to tighten. “Well, he knows mama and dada but I’m not sure he knows which one of us is which all the time…”
“Ok. Abe, where’s mama?” the doctor asked. Abe smiled. “Where’s mama, Abe?” More smiling. “Is this mama, Abe?” Playing with car. “Ok, so he doesn’t know what to call you yet.”
Oh shit, she’s writing something down. Why is she checking that box? STOP WRITING THINGS IN PEN.
“Yes, but he does know sign language.”
“Oh, really?” She stopped writing. “Abraham, can you show me ‘more’?” He signs “more”. “Can you show me ‘please’?” He signs please.
“He can do ‘hungry’, too,” I announce.
Shut up, Erin. It’s not a contest.
“Oh, wow. That’s great that he knows so many signs, Erin.”
Ok, it is a contest. And we’re winning.
“I’m noticing he is understanding a lot of words. So it’s mainly expression he’s having trouble with. I’m wondering if he has some oral motor delays.”
And we’re losing.
Abraham pushes a button on a phone and a dog barks. Abe barks. This is getting worse. I gotta wrap this up. I came here to satiate my neuroses, not to find out my child actually has some kind of delay.
“And when I look here at his numbers, cognitive, physical, motor, coordination, he’s above average across the board.”
Ok, we can stay.
“His communication score is actually at the cutoff, which means I could refer him for services but he will likely fall right in line within the next 3 months. I will put you on the 3 month call back list. If he still has no language, we’ll see him again to determine if he qualifies for services, but I really don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
“Oh, ok great. So, we’re all set then? No services?”
“That’s right! He’s just fine. We’ll call you in 3 months to check in!”
Abe slept 3 hours that afternoon, likely because he was so traumatized by that awful woman telling him NO to a toy she clearly handed him. And as I reflected on the fact that I took my 16 month old to be evaluated for speech and language, I realized a hard a fast fact. I need to have more kids if this one is ever going to survive.