the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obsess Much?

This post is all about me obsessing over Max's verbal skills, so if you want to stop reading now, I won't take it personally (plus, I won't even know). I mentioned yesterday (seems like it was a long time ago) that I made an appointment for Max's 18 month checkup. His pediatrician told us that this was an "optional" checkup, as no vaccines are required, just a developmental checkup. Specifically, she said that if we were concerned about his vocabulary we should bring him in at 18 months, otherwise wait until 24 months. I have had some concerns about Max's verbal skills because he really has not been much of a talker. I find myself continuing to question whether it's possible that he has a speech delay because there are so many sources of guidance on these things with so much conflicting information (um, I've read everything from "an 18 month old should be able to say 3-10 words" to "an 18 month old should be able to say at least 10 recognizable words" to "an 18 month old should have a few dozen words in his/her vocabulary").

So I started thinking about the words that Max actually says and the sounds he makes that should count as words but that most people wouldn't understand (not that everyone we meet has any reason to know that when he says "pah" he means paci or that when he says "bah" and points at something that means he wants it). Then there are all the words that he's said repeatedly for only a few days, never to be uttered again (outside, duck, book). And the ones he's said a couple of times but doesn't use regularly (no, bear, eyes, pot, "dah" for dog). And the ones he said very clearly one time only (cookie, ostrich, paper). If I count all the sounds that mean the same thing as words (usually, it's making the first sound of the word but not saying the whole word) then Max says about 12 words on a regular basis. We are only guaranteed to hear four of them several times a day (yeah/yes, bye, pah, bah). He only says a few words clearly enough that the average person who doesn't see him super often would probably understand (bye, yeah/yes, key, hot, oh, mama, daddy; no, bear, whoa, pot, and eyes are pretty clear when he chooses to say them). Most of the time, Max prefers the point and grunt method of communication anyway.

So maybe I really don't have anything to worry about. But when all the other moms you meet are bragging about how their kid is combining words and has over a 50 word vocabulary, and other kids at daycare tell you bye bye more clearly and more enthusiastically than your own does (and when they call you "mommy" when your kid has not yet gotten beyond "mama"), you can't help but worry about it.

I'm sort of looking forward to this checkup, if for nothing more than to allay my fears. And to get more pesky, persistent rashes looked at.


Holly said...

I wouldn't worry. Dec isn't much of a talker yet, either (in English, though he maintains a constant dialogue in Dec-ese), but he clearly understands English from me, and follows my phone conversations intently, etc. I think they take their own time. I know people who talked early, and people who talked late, and neither seems any smarter than the other by adulthood, so I guess it all settles in the end.

Don't get too obsessive. ;)

latina marie said...

Max is the same. He babbles constantly, and he gestures and acts like he's having a conversation with you... only he isn't using real words. He understands everything we say to him, and at the end of my phone calls he always says "bye" after I say "bye." I guess four recognizable words every day isn't too bad, and some days he says a lot more than that.

Max never uses real words in front of people he doesn't see every day until they've been around for at least an hour or two (and sometimes not even then), so people he sees in passing a lot think he doesn't talk at all. My MIL is constantly saying that he should be talking more and is always pressuring him to say new words, which makes me crazy. He usually clings to his paci when she starts doing that, then she takes it away and says, "You can't talk with that thing in your mouth." If she'd chill out a little bit, he'd probably throw the paci down on his own. I let him have it when he wants it, and most of the time he leaves it on the coffee table (or puts it in a bowl and puts the lid on it).

And yes, I've told her to stop pressuring Max and that he *will* spit out the pacifier when he's ready. I've also told her that he actually does talk when he isn't pressured. But she doesn't listen. Because she does everything better than I do.

Holly said...

It seems we have Men of Action on our hands. There are worse things, I guess.

Holly said...

And, MIL... *rolls eyes*.