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My Brilliant Mute...

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I've written before about how amazed I am at the different ways that children develop. They can seem radically advanced in some ways and woefully behind in others. It's what makes us all individuals I suppose. It's a challenge for a mother though...especially for one that's incredibly goal-oriented like I am. It's hard not to compare your kid to others (for good or for bad) and to remember that they will do things when they'll do them.

What am I rambling on about? Well, Elnora has always been a bit of a mystery in terms of hitting developmental milestones. She didn't roll over until she was almost six months old. By comparison, Emmitt was rolling every which way at 3 months, yet she sat up just a week or two after she learned to roll. She didn't crawl until 8.5 months (whereas Emmitt, who just hit 5 months is now crawling backwards) but she walked at ten months.

Now we're seeing this happen again...areas where she's way behind and areas where she appears to be way ahead.

Elnora doesn't talk. Now let's not mistake that for her being a quiet child. The little thing NEVER stops making sounds. In fact, I put her down for a nap an hour ago and I STILL hear her up there carrying on conversations with her stuffed animals.

No! Oh-ya! Whoa...whoa! Eya! Eya! no.... hmph!

It's non-stop, I tell you.

But she doesn't say WORDS. She doesn't communicate with speech. Well, that's not entirely true...she does say the following.

Ma (not mom or mama, just ma)
Da (again, not dad or dada)
Ee-yah (that's what she calls Emmitt)
Ba (that's what she calls the grandpas)
Moo (my cousin's boyfriend, Mike, one of her favorite people)
Meat (which is ironic, because she doesn't eat meat, so this is usually paired with no, as in "No meat!")
Yuck (she HATES to be dirty)
Hot (pronounced "haugh" with a sharp ending but not so much the "t" sound...)
Dee (the things she loves...her doll Bindi, her stuffed Giraffe, and for some reason...juice.)
Shoe (a real word! she just added this last month)
Ree (our dog...she used to call her Roo, which is her name, but about a year ago the dog's name became Ree)
No (like all two year olds, she has this one down pat)

That's about it. She does a variety of animal sounds (Meow, Ba, Cak (that's a duck), Neigh, Mmmmm (for moo), and the monkey sound) but again, that's about it.

She's not quite two and a half, so we're still a few months away from having her evaluated for potential speech problems, but the funny thing is that she still communicates VERY well.

If I could go back and do it all over, I would have taught her sign language. Studies show that it doesn't slow down children's progression of speech...if anything, they believe it helps. I'm certainly going to work on teaching Emmitt sign language...learned my lesson on that one.

Even still, she's become a master at charades. She has made up her own signs for camera, lip balm, washing her hands, brushing her teeth, combing her hair, eating, drinking, playing with stickers, coloring, the computer, and at least half a dozen other things. Now we still work with her every day on saying tons of words. We don't just give her what she wants as soon as we know what she means, so it's more like "Juice? Jah, jah, jah, juuuuuice?" or "Brush? Ba, ba, ba buuurr-ush?" but it's just not taking.

On the other hand, there are some areas where she seems to be fairly advanced. She learned how to put her own pants on before she was two. She would make incredibly complicated building block towers when she was 18 months (even figuring out how to steady the tower with one hand while building it taller with the other), she can point to almost any item you ask about in a book, she knows most of her shapes and colors (points to them when you ask) and is even learning to identify her numbers. In the last week, she's taken to drawing shapes and faces instead of just scribbling on her AquaDoodle. Now I don't know exactly what age kids learn to draw faces, but some friends tell me that 2 is pretty young for it. (and if it's not, indulge me, I need to think my kid is brilliant in at least one area.)

Here's one that she drew yesterday:

From 022807

You'll note that there are two eyes, a nose and a mouth. The other marks are two ears a chin and the neck. (I know this because she points to her own features before adding them...she knows eyes, nose, mouth, ears, cheeks, chin, throat, neck, hair and forehead.)

So now her Aquadoodle is decorated daily with characters that look like they belong on Wow Wow Wubzy.

Maybe she'll turn into a mute artist... it's the tragic ones that make the most money right? What's more tragic than an adorable little mute girl that draws really well?


  1. Anonymous Mary Jo | 2:11 PM |  

    That picture is fabulous! My son is a few months younger than Elnora, and all he does with crayons is scribble. He can't really even draw a straight line and doesn't even try to draw objects. Coloring to him is just making marks on a paper, not a way to make a picture. On the other hand, he likes to talk. Ten years from now they will very likely have similar basic abilities and no one will know that she didn't talk and he didn't draw, but isn't it odd how different they can be at this age? I'm constantly amazed at human development!

  2. Blogger Jennifer | 2:18 PM |  

    Exactly my point.

    I love to read K's blog and see what huge multisyllabic word her son has managed to say this week (he's about Nora's age) and I always wonder, will nora ever say a two syllable word?

    Hey K...can you get him to say multisyllabic? Or did he already say it four months ago? :-P

    Then I think to myself...yeah, but I bet nora has something down pat that he doesn't have yet. ;) Although I'm sure K's son is just all-around brilliant, so who knows.

    Oh, I know! Nora has been properly using both a fork and spoon since she was a little more than a year old. (Thanks to her OCD daddy...)

    Anyway...Mary Jo, you are exactly right. Years from now, no one will know who did what at what ages because it all tends to even out.

    Einstein didn't speak until he was 5. They thought he was an idiot. Bwahahaha. I also read a study once that said that the age at which a child reads has absolutely ZERO impact on their scholastic success by the time they reach high school.

    It's just so interesting to me how every child really does develop in completely unique and amazing ways.

  3. Blogger K | 2:53 PM |  

    Ha! You know Henry doesn't really say homogenization and pasteurization -- they were in a book about ice cream, so he repeats them on command. LOL!

    And he can only pull his pants up with assistance.

    Elnora's picture is amazing! We are squiggly line-city over here.

    Every kid is unique. Sounds to me like Elnora has fabulous fine motor skills and communicates just great.

    I must admit -- bringing home yet another pair of stained toddler pants from daycare -- that I am super jealous of the spoon and fork thing.

  4. Blogger Jennifer | 3:00 PM |  

    LOL...yes but he SAYS them.

    Our friends had a niece that was two about the time Monster's Inc came out. Inspired by boo saying "Mike Wozowski" they taught her to say "Steve Bellesari" which was pretty darn funny. (OSU quarterback for you non-buckeyes...)

    Re: the stained pants...oh, dear, dear K...why would you even dream that the use of a fork and spoon precludes stained pants? Geeze, I mastered them a few decades ago and I STILL stain my clothes on a regular basis...

  5. Blogger The Fluffy Ewe | 4:59 PM |  

    Now see my son just turned 3 in January and he's still all about the scribbles. I am super impressed Nora can draw Wubbzy-esque figures (I loathe that show, btw).

    My baby is waaay more animated and chatty than my 3yo was at the same age. Like you said, they are so different that it's just baffling.

  6. Blogger sara | 5:40 PM |  

    I was so excited when I read "sign language" that I didn't finish reading your post yet....

    I think you should use sign with Elnora now. And I highly recommend the Signing Smart program. They use real ASL signs, so you can use and ASL dictionary as a guide. They also focus on strategies for interacting with infants while teaching signs, not just signing all the time, but incorporating them into play.

    They also have a pre-school aged program, so the benefits of signing go well beyond infancy. I bet Elnora would pick it up really fast, and then you could say 'she learned to sign at 2 and a half and was talking in complete sentences just 2 months later' :)

  7. Blogger Jennifer | 6:52 PM |  

    Sara, thank you so much for your input! I've been thinking about starting Elnora on sign language. I was reading about apraxia and what I found said that they often use sign language as part of the therapy because as the kids learn to communicate, they gain confidence and do better at using verbal language skills.

    I'll check out what you suggested...

  8. Blogger Laura | 7:26 AM |  

    My daughter is 28 months and doesn't draw anythign recognizable. she recites everything she draws wwhile drawing it, but it's all scribble.

    I think you already know what to do. you said it yourself, kids learn a different times and it's not a race. Keep in mind that as long as your daughter *can* communicate her needs, wnats and thoughts in some way then she is communicating. they don't need to be adult words to be words you know? and beleve me I know how hard it is to not think ahead wish for the day your kid culd say lots of suff. my oldest was talking in full sentences and asking advanced questions like "what is a bank, mommy?" when he was just over 20 months. he was very verbally advanced. and my daughter took a lot of prying ot get her to talk.

    Why not use sign now? it's a lot les intrusive than a full blown speech eval! sign is a positive step and imposes no expectations verbally of the kids - but in my experiences does semm to encourage them to talk more. my dd started talking shrtly ater teaching her sign. within 2 o 3 months she had doubled her very very small vocab and she seemed quite happy with herself. now if you're daughter seems very unhappy with her communication and frustrated and giving her words or signing to her don't help them perhaps you could consider the next step.

    just my two cents =)

  9. Blogger Jennifer | 7:34 AM |  

    Thanks for your feedback Laura!

    For the most part, Nora's a pretty happy kid, but there are times, when she's trying to tell us stuff that I can SEE that brain working and I can feel her frustration at not being able to find words.

    I talked to Greg about it last night and he agrees that signs can't hurt. I'd been thinking about introducing them to Emmitt anyway (he's 5 months) so why not both of them?

    I ordered three books from Amazon last night...

    Teach Your Tot to Sign: The Parents' Guide to American Sign Language

    Signing Smart with Babies and Toddlers: A Parent's Strategy and Activity Guide

    Baby Sign Language Basics

    (I'm a free shipping nut...started with two and had to add a third to get that free shipping...lol...

  10. Blogger sara | 8:17 AM |  

    Happy to help :)

    I'd love to hear about how you guys do with the signing.

  11. Anonymous Nev | 3:14 PM |  

    Einstein didn't speak until he was 3... :)

  12. Blogger Jennifer | 3:17 PM |  

    What can I say Nev, other than it proves that I'm not Einstein. ;)

  13. Blogger Renata | 9:59 AM |  

    Your daughter may be even more interested in learning signs if you are teaching yor son, so it looks like pretty good timing to me.

  14. Blogger Shelly | 6:49 AM |  

    My daugher is/was the same way now. She is two and a half. She knows her numbers in english, spanish and german. She knows her alphabet, can spell some words, colors, shapes, etc. Yet she wasn't talking much at all. But about two months ago she just all of a sudden started picking words up and she hasn't stopped since.

  15. Blogger beth | 6:17 PM |  

    Just wanted to let you know yours is not the only brilliant mute out there. My 20 month old isn't drawing as artistically as your 2 1/2 year old, but I'm constantly defending her against the question, "She doesn't talk yet?!" with claims of her other accomplishments: She dusts, unloads the dishwasher, stacks blocks taller than I can, put together shape puzzles... etc.

  16. Blogger Annie D | 9:23 PM |  

    You should have her evaluated now. I have a 4 year old son with severe speech disabilties- the earlier the intervention the easier it will be for her. And if you live in the US call early intervention- the evaluations as well as therapy is free.
    Also- you say if you could go back you would teach her sign language.. you still can! You can teach any child of any age sign language. We began teaching my son sign at about 2 and he is now up to almost 1000 words. He is getting an interpreter at school now. He may or may not be mute for his whole life- no one really knows but his problems are very severe. Your daughter already sounds way ahead of him in her speech though. But I would encourage you not to wait to call early intervention- it can do no harm!

    That is amazing she can draw like that ! I have never seen a child that young draw like that! My 4 year old still just scriblles!

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