August 6, 2010

ollie's words

For the last few months, it's felt as though Ollie has been trying hard to talk but hasn't been making much progress.  We know he knows lots of words but he's just not saying them.  Every day we've thought that any day now, his vocabulary will explode and we'll be amazed at how much he can say.  But it hasn't really happened, and if anything, he seems to be getting more and more frustrated with not being able to communicate with us.  So whilst at the doctor for a different problem, we mentioned it to our GP who referred us to our paediatrician.  I didn't take up the referral but I did decide to speak to a lovely lady called Helen-Louise Usher about Ollie's language development.

Helen-Louise is a speech pathologist in Brisbane who specialises in paediatric speech development.  We talked at some length about Ollie's communication, about his comprehension (which seems advanced for his age) and his language.  We talked about what we are doing right (reading to him - lots, talking to him, encouraging him to point to things in books and teaching him the right words, making lots of eye contact, showing enthusiasm every time he tries to talk to us) and what we could do more of (waiting for him to really try to articulate what he wants rather than second guessing on the back of a whinge, encouraging him to imitate and make silly noises).  I realised while I was talking to her that while it's 'normal' for a 21 month old to know around 50 words and by the age of 2 to be putting two or more words together, a word isn't necessarily a word, more a consistent term of reference for the same object.  So putting this to the test, I've actually discovered that Ollie knows a lot more than we've perhaps given him credit for.

truck - dug
water - ortaa
dog - da
car - car
cat - ka
mouse - ma
mama - mama
daddy - dadgy (also whilst pointing to photos of Evel Kneivel/Robert Downey Junior/Any dashing dark stranger)
dog - da
toast - toe
bin - ba (when pointing at bin)
bus - ba (when bus goes by)
Max - Ma
train - toot toot
owl - oo oo

The upshot of all this is that he mightn't fit into the accepted norms out there for speech development, but Ollie can understand virtually everything we say to him.  He's quite comfortable carrying out reasonably complicated instructions and is even distinguishing between a few colours, even if he's not saying them.  Even in the last week or so, Ollie's speech has really improved and he's understanding that using words rather than whining is a much more effective way of getting what he wants!

I'm glad I spoke to Helen-Louise.  She gave me some peace of mind that each child is different, and while I might want to seek her help if Ollie things don't improve in the next few months, Ollie's doing just fine for now.


one rolling garage door said...

You left out D'oh for all things problematic

Brooke said...

We've been a little worried about the boys too. We were hoping for Mama/Dada at least by now but no luck. 'Dad' is said often, especially by Aidan (the spokesman) but often when pointing to me or himself as much as Darren. I know they're all different and I know often boys take longer but... it's hard not to worry huh? x

Mandy said...

It is. Ollie's progress didn't really start until 21 months, just when I was about to seek help. Sentences soon followed and now at 26 months he surprises us with some of the connections he makes. The development has been so rapid. I can't speak with any authority but based on our experience, as long as you are reading to them, talking to them lots and they understand most of what you're saying (to them), I would give it time.

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