I knew it before the pediatrician said it. I knew that my son needed speech therapy for pronunciation/articulation. His F’s are P’s and V’s are B’s and th is p and draw is raw and need is meed but he can say dammit like he coined it. I asked him to say vestibule and he just looked at me, patted my hand, and walked away. The faster he’s speaking the less you may understand, sometimes. But I understand it all. I catch it all. I’ve been straining my ears toward him for the past few months, since school started, wondering if I could note a change. They’re working on letters in class. Maybe more constant saying of those letters will make him form those letters correctly, I thought. There hasn’t been a change.
He speaks well, just not always clearly. He started talking, just like the girls, before he was one. I don’t know why I’m saying that. It doesn’t make a difference. Because right now, although I can understand what he says, others sometimes can’t. It’s starting to irritate him when people ask him to repeat himself so he’s catching on that maybe he’s not very clear. The week before his four-year checkup I asked the literacy coach at his school if they’d give him an evaluation. Unfortunately, evaluations aren’t done until kindergarten (which makes no sense because why not test them when it first presents itself, even if they’re three?). I was referred to a city agency. The woman asked questions about if he could jump on one foot, follow simple instructions in order, and if he could button his own clothes. Shit. Buttons are the devil. She started explaining developmental delays to me and I stopped listening. Because developmental. Delay.
He doesn’t have a developmental delay. He has a pronunciation/enunciation/articulation something something who’re we kidding it’s probably classified as developmental but don’t say that word.
Why though? Why is development such a loaded word? I never thought it was, prior to it being associated with my child, that is. I have friends who have children with diagnosed developmental delays and I tell them that their children will be fine and I believe that because they’re advocating for their children, supporting them. But then what is up with me not wanting my child labeled as — oh. It is the label.
Am I embarrassed? Afraid he’ll be referred to as delayed and that will follow him forever? That he’ll be a brain surgeon and people will refer to him in biographies as the one who overcame a developmental delay? That he’ll be judged, looked at differently? It’s just words. Who am I to get angry by words? There’s nothing else to it other than my making sure he gets the support and services he needs, right? My cousin who pronounced cookie tookie until she was eight never had speech therapy but she can say cookie just fine.
The pediatrician listened to him, asked him questions about letters and colors and the alphabet, which he knows but refuses to say correctly because oh, you silly people and your rules of order. Once you make the You Are So Not Getting Any Candy That I’ll Lie About Later Saying I Never Gave You Candy When You Stupidly Tell Daddy I Gave You Candy face, he’ll do it correctly. And then count. And then write an X. And then name all the colors and the numbers and say and spell his name and list his family members and could probably do a puzzle, name every animal, fruit, and vegetable, and sing all the words to Blurred Lines.
He has a speech evaluation later this month.
I hope no one asks him to say vestibule.