Has Lex Finally Found His Voice?

Yesterday I was in the bathroom with Lex and I asked him to do something, to which he immediately responded: “sure Mum,” and then went on to say something that told me he’d understood exactly what I said. I wish I could remember the exact exchange, but I was so flummoxed at being understood, what we actually said to each other went out of the window immediately. The thing I CAN remember about this moment, however, is the feeling of being truly and utterly elated – I WAS UNDERSTOOD BY LEX! I should mention that this moment has been a long time coming – six years to be exact.
 
Lex turned six on November the 12th and after being diagnosed with compressed ear canals (at age four), he had grommets inserted, and his tonsils and adenoids removed - that was two years ago. Since that day, we’ve been waiting for him to cross a ‘line’ - a line where both expressive and receptive language is age appropriate, and it has been excruciatingly painful waiting for this to happen. The worst thing we’ve dealt with is our own expectations - because EVERYONE said within 12 months he’ll be caught up - he’ll just “get it.” Well he didn’t “just get it” and we’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to work out how to help him get it, and you know what has helped him the most? Spending the last few months full time with his chatty pants brother! Yep, Mr. Charmer Jax has been the answer to our challenge all along, but it has only been in the last few months that they have spent their days together full-time. Oh they’ve shitted each other to tears, beaten the crap out of each other, infuriated each other, etc, etc, etc during this time... but we finally found our magic potion – The Jaxster.

I knew something special was happening with Lex in the last month or so, because every single time he’s about to go into an intellectual developmental spurt (usually coinciding with a physical growth spurt) he turns into a TURD. Belligerence is an understatement. However, in the “good-‘ol-days” his belligerence was always behaviour-lead, which often left Steve and I scratching our heads because the behaviours didn’t make any sense to our logical brains. The big difference with this last spurt has been verbal – for the first time, Lex has become all mouth and attitude: “no you do it” or “oh my god, can you believe that?” or “I’m not doing that” or “you’re not listening Daddy, I’m very angry with you.” I could go on.

Jax, our magic potion
But he’s also saying some really great stuff, like when his Dad asks him a question, he’ll respond: “Daddy I’m thinking.” In fact, yesterday he asked me three times: “Mummy what are you thinking about?” It’s always an interesting question that, because my brain is never dormant, and him understanding the thinking process and being interested in what another is pondering – well that alone tells me we’ve come a long long way.
But this has not been an easy road for any of us to travel. Just yesterday – before my “moment” with Lex - we were wandering through Bishan Park in Singapore, and Steve and I were talking about lots of stuff. However, one of the things we were talking about is how excruciatingly difficult it has been raising a speech delayed child. Parents who have kids with normal speech can never know how difficult it is having a child that doesn’t understand anything you say. We’ve also found other parents have found it difficult to understand why we’re not stricter or trying to sort out certain behaviours - but it’s hard to explain to someone with a speaking child the reasons for our more relaxed approach to things like discipline. We just had to recognise that there’s no point fighting the battles we can’t win. It’s been HARD, but we’ve always believed in our little lad, and finally, finally, finally it seems that Lex has found his voice.

Oh shit, got tears in my eyes writing that.
To the other parents out there with speech delayed kids, especially those of you I’ve never met but have read and responded to my blogs (thank you for that, it means the world to me) – I hope this gives you hope. Lex took a lot longer than most kids to get past his hurdles, but my observations on this are:
  • No one knows when kids start being hearing challenged, so no one actually knows how far behind they are by the time the physical problem is fixed. Try not to put any time expectations on your child’s development if you can. That's been a big lesson for us
  • Lex is incredibly self conscious and he gets very easily embarrassed when he makes a fool of himself in front of people. Therefore the act of speaking for him has been excruciatingly difficult because he’s felt so embarrassed. If your kid is self-conscious, it might be worth keeping in mind
  • Bad behaviour or crazy behaviour or excessive oral behaviour are also linked to speech delayed kids and none of these behaviours necessarily indicate the child is autistic, or anything else. Try and resist the pressure to get your kids diagnosed by people because it makes their life easier – please? Especially if you know in your heart of hearts that you are dealing with a speech issue only. Address that first before looking at other things
  • Fighting through your child’s speech delay challenges can be pretty straight forward or intensely challenging, impacting every aspect of your life. We’re in the latter category so just know there are people out there who understand your pain – it’s certainly meant a lot to me knowing I’m not alone
  • We found we can’t force Lex to do anything he doesn’t want to do – because he’s bloody stubborn like his Mother. Therefore, I think a lot of the solutions we’ve tried to follow just haven’t interested him. So keep exploring your options if progress isn’t happening, and if there’s a sibling with a great command of language (even a younger one in our case) perhaps see if that’s your magic potion too?
  • But the most important lesson is never give up – your little speech delayed prince or princess needs your belief in them. Any parent going through this will completely understand one thing – when the pressure from outside mounts, keeping your faith in your child is the hardest thing in the world – even I was on rocky shores sometimes, and I’m as stubborn as they bloody come...
Two brothers - they teach each other
With that, all I’d like to say right now is hooray Lex - you bloody beauty!! I’ve been waiting to write this blog for a very long time, and even though we’ve still got a long road ahead of us, you’ve crossed that line at last. I love ya buddy and I’m so proud of who you are.

Yours, without the bollocks
Andrea
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