Lauren was just 15 months old when Mike was removed from the house and only 20 months old when he died. I don’t know how much she remembers about her dad or if she has any memories at all. Mike was pretty far gone into the spiral of alcohol at the time she was born.
Today, Lauren is a happy, giggly little girl. She adores her brother. She loves her dog. She is a cuddler and a hugger and blows kisses 24/7. Lauren is fearless and repeats everything her brother does. She loves dancing, playing with “babies” (dolls), reading books and building with Legos and wooden blocks. She is a terrific eater – she’ll try anything and gobbles up things most kids won’t touch (broccoli, raw onions and peppers, spicy guacamole).
But she doesn’t talk. She makes noises, usually the first letter sound of a word. She uses several baby signs and has developed her own signs for some words. She has her own way of communicating with us – there just aren’t words.
Her new doc was worried about speech during Lauren’s 24 month check up. Babies at that age should be saying SOMETHING. I had ignored some of my concerns about her speech. Afterall, she was the second child and Ethan talks “for” her. But new doc arranged for an evaluation.
Over the course of a month, Lauren was evaluated by child development experts, speech therapists, occupational therapists and doctors. At the end, Lauren tested off the charts for almost everything. Brag moment: the coordinator said that Lauren’s scores were the highest they had ever seen; Lauren tested a full year ahead of her age in several categories. Except for her speech.
Lauren had the speech of a 9 month old – she was 25 months old at the time of the evaluation.
At the time of the evaluation, she did have one word: “dad” (said while pointing to a photo of Mike).
Lauren is going through “baby speech therapy.” Every two weeks, a speech therapist visits the house for a 40 minute session. Lauren loves it. In just a few sessions, I can tell a difference. She now has a distinct label for her brother (“Eth”) and has been more “vocal” with making sounds. She seems to really be trying.
I think I’d be dealing with Lauren’s speech issues regardless of whether Mike were alive or not, regardless of whether or not Mike and I were still together. But it’s very difficult being the only one to make treatment decisions for an issue this big. Still it’s nothing like what’s going on with Ethan…
“How are the Kids? Ethan Edition” to come at a later date…