Tuesday, May 23, 2006


At what point is it appropriate to become concerned about a child's development? I ask this because we've now had enough time with "Angel" to evaluate many aspects of her personality and draw some conclusions. Many of them are very positive and heartening. A few are not.

"Angel" is far brighter than we were told before she came. She enjoys mimicking things she sees us do (causing us to be much more careful about what we say or do...self-censorship reigns). She is picking up a few words that we never heard her use before and we're able occasionally to hear complete sentences out of her now.

She has settled into her routine pretty nicely overall, and bedtimes are far easier than they were at first. She still has a rebellious streak, but I think an objective observer might not call that all bad...it shows a lot of spirit, and that can be a very good thing. I just wish she'd show more spirit with me and less with The Wife. Around me she's usually pretty docile and compliant, and she can be a holy terror at times with her. I'm better-equipped physically do deal with a raging child, so that's not convenient...but it doesn't worry me.

There are really two things that have me pondering what to do. One is her socialization skills, which need work but are really another post altogether. The other is the one that really kills me, and that's her speech. Her pronunciation and even ability to articulate some sounds (such as the glottal plosives) is really spotty and she is very hard to understand at all for someone who doesn't know her. "Tasha" is "Cha cha", for instance. "Monkey" is "Mun ee".

The girl desperately needs a good speech pathologist, but we haven't even been able to get the Personal Care Attendant hours we were promised before we took her in over a month ago and they still haven't managed to schedule a full physical work-up to see if there are any problems we need to address from her accident over a year ago, so we're not holding our breath for any other kinds of help.

So what can we do to get started on catching her up with her age bracket? This girl is smart, and I desperately want to be able to talk to her. She has such a sparkling personality and it seems to me that she's beginning to show some signs of frustration at not being able to communicate more effectively.

Even as it is, she gives us long sermons with the most priceless facial expressions and hand gestures. She's telling us stories when she does that, and I think our lives--and hers--would be far richer if we could understand fully what she's telling us and come back to her with worthwhile feedback.

Me? I'm a guy happened to take some speech courses in college because he was silly/idealistic enough to begin his college experience as a theater major before switching to something that has the prospect of earning a living. That makes me qualified to notice there might be a problem and even be able to detect some of what the problem is, but not how to fix it myself.

Anybody with any suggestions, please post them in comments. This is a thing that's beginning to bother me--which I guess is just another illustration that I love this kid a lot. I want more, and I won't get it until we figure out a way to understand each other better.


At 8:10 PM , Blogger Beth said...

I asked my special-ed teacher husband. He very helpfully said, "You need a speech pathologist for that." He followed up with saying that the speech pathologist at his school deals with comprehension and next year they will get someone who specializes in articulation.

So if you want to know in September I will know someone who knows someone...

At 8:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beth is absolutely right. She does need a speech pathologist to help her with those concerns. Almost All the foster children that has come into our care has needed some form of outside intervention to catch them up in their speech or other skills. I don't know about where you live but here in Texas there's a free government program called E.C.I. (early child intervention) that consists of specialists that come into your home and uses what resourses you have availble to work with the child on a one on one basis. You don't have to go anywhere they come to your house when it's convenient for you and teach you techniques you can use to improve the skills of the child. This program covers children up to age three but can continue on at a local school no matter if they are school age or not. It's a GREAT resource here in Texas and I'm sure every state has something like it to a certain degree.

At 6:23 AM , Blogger Mary said...

Yup. Speech pathologist. Email me privately and I can hook you up with one in the area. There's also ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education) and they can help assess and line up things for Angel.

As to being a bit more rambunctious with your wife, that's simply because she's the mom. The one constant is Moms -- they were supposed to protect, care, and keep them safe and they didn't (or at least not well enough), so every mom after that gets treated like crap. They can and do come around and the best advice I have for your wife is to be consistent at all times. When Angel learns she's not going to do or react differently, the relationship will improve tremendously. In the meantime, please let your wife know to not take it personally, because it really isn't personal.

At 8:54 AM , Blogger Tamara said...

We had a 4-yr. old for a while with the exact same speech problems - fortunately, we were able to get him into speech therapy classes at his Head Start program - and talking to him and just being consistent seemed to help. Michael was pronounced "My-toll" and Naveah (his sister) was pronounced "La-bay-aah". He's get so frustrated when we had no idea what he was trying to say.

At 9:08 AM , Blogger Julie said...

My case worker has told me not to be afraid to be the squeaky wheel- I would continue to make those calls to get her the help she needs- Call the case worker every day till they call you back- same goes for the Personal Attendant. You don't want her to miss out on anything.

At 7:00 AM , Anonymous The Wife said...

Hi! It's "The Wife". A couple of staff from the ECIS program came yesterday morning to meet with me and "Angel". They will be doing over half a dozen assessments with her and the ball is rolling for speech therapy and others needs to be addressed. We have a great ed. system here so we are blessed as are the kids. Thanks for all the input!


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