Blair and I did our monthly visit to the Atlanta Speech School last week. It was a good visit with some frustration because there is some worry about the clarity of her speech. I understand what she says, but it’s not easy, and no one other than family really understands much of it. She’s just missing some important consonants and a few vowels pretty consistently, and we hope it’s not hearing related – but it most likely is. She’s hearing well, but we don’t know if the quality of the sound is good, and if it’s not that could be the reason her speech is not clear – she’s reproducing what she hears. (Quality is affected by her Auditory Neuropathy.) The SLP does not think she is having issues manipulating her mouth, which is good. She’s saying most of the consonants, but she won’t say them at the right times!
She’s attempting to say so much more than she was even a month ago, but the clarity has improved minimally. Our hope for now is that more practice will do the trick. It won’t be too much longer before we have to make a decision to continue with hearing aids or go to a cochlear implant.
She says an “s” which is a really high frequency and one of the hardest to hear, but we can’t get her to repeat a “b” (a first sound for babies) at all unless we ask her to make a “w” sound – then we get a “b.” It seems like if she can get an “s” that she can get a “b”! “P” is a problem in some words, but she says it in others, “m” is great for “mama” but not “monkey,” where she was saying “d” has turned to “g” -- “gaga” instead of “dada" at times. She says long “e” through her nose, which really makes it not an “e” at all. The “s”? It’s great. It’s one of the hardest, and it’s great. We started just saying “s” by itself, and now we are putting it in words. Even in the last few days I have been practicing with her, and she is really getting better at adding “s” to words.
The good thing about these specific consonants she’s missing (b, w, m, p)? She has made all of them at some point. She uses some of them as at certain times (she says no ma’am wonderfully and has a great ending “p”!), and they are all very visual, making them fairly easy to teach her to do by imitating our mouths. The downside is they are so easy, and we’ve been working them already – why isn’t she saying them?! (Update: I wrote this post last week, and since then we are saying “m” words much better, including “monkey”!! Hopefully the rest will come too.) I have all of these hopes that maybe she was missing these early consonants when she was little and now she can hear them, so it’s just taking her a bit of practice to get them, but that’s just the mommy in me wanting everything to be okay.
One of the most difficult things is that she understands so much. Everyone (meaning her therapists) thinks that since she understands so much she should be talking more clearly. I guess that’s where the worry comes in. I just hope she’s being hard-headed and will come around soon.
Please pray for Blair and guidance with our upcoming decisions. This is a very tough situation, and though we’ve been aware of it for almost two years, the answers are no clearer now than they were before.