I have been stressed to the max about Miss Sunshine's speech progress ever since our trip to Shriner's last month where they started bringing up the possibility of another surgery if her speech didn't start catching up. I tried to not worry about it, but let's be honest here - if some doctor told you your child would have to have surgery if they didn't start talking more, wouldn't you freak out too? Yep - that's what I thought.
So I discussed it further with our speech therapist here at home, and while I could tell she was trying very carefully to word it so that she didn't freak me out, she basically told me the same thing that I was told in Chicago. If Miss Sunshine didn't start progressing SOON, there was a good chance we were looking at another surgery... Well, that did nothing to calm me down. She did tell me, however, that between about 18-20 months is what they consider "make or break" time for kids in speech therapy - kids who were borderline delayed, like Miss Sunshine, would either catch up, or fall significantly further behind during those few months - because this is when most normal speech development "explodes" as well.
I suppose a little background might help - Miss Sunshine has been very slow to add sounds to her vocabulary. Typically (or so I am told) a child who undergoes palate repair will add a lot of new consonant sounds almost immediately. Miss Sunshine's has been much more gradual - she has been adding new sounds, but not at the pace or number they want. And she was hardly doing any "imitative" speech at all. You know, when you pattern a word for your child and they attempt to repeat it (whether or not it comes out sounding anything like what you said)? Well, she just wouldn't repeat things. These were the big concerns that they had as far as her speech. And again, at this age, it's hard for them to judge whether these are issues relating to her palate repair, meaning it was not successful and she's not doing them because she's not physically capable of doing them, or if it was just her being stubborn.
Well, apparently Miss Sunshine took the speech therapist's words about 18-20 month olds to heart - because ever since she turned 18 months a week ago - it's been an explosion of words at our house. The imitative speech has FINALLY shown up and it is amazing what words she can say. In the last week alone we have added (in some fairly recognizable form even if it isn't perfect pronunciation) thank you, bubble, purple, blue, bird, cow, moo, dog, brother, daddy, mommy. grandma, hi, bye-bye, down, up, cup, pop, poop, milk, yay and yeah. She also randomly says there, that, mine and no. And ironically the words that come out the clearest are thank you, bubble and purple. Go figure - out of all the easy words she COULD say, she says thank you, bubble and purple the best. This is definitely my kid. But at least I can breathe a sigh of relief that she is FINALLY doing what she is supposed to be doing!