Yep. My boy said mummy. Today he just decided was the day and he said ‘hello mummy’ and then he kept saying mummy alllllll day. And it was beautiful.
He’s 3 years 1 month and 24 days old. I’ve waited a loooong time to hear the word ‘mummy’ come out of his gorgeous chubby little mouth. It was worth the wait.
When I first found out for sure that Omar had a speech delay I blogged about how worried I was that he wasn’t talking and how desperate I was to have little chats with him. It’s hard to convey to people how much a ‘speech delay’ affects almost everything. It doesn’t sound serious but in reality it is. It’s not just that Omar is a late talker, his understanding is delayed too. There have been times that I’ve despaired that he would never talk, never understand, never say mummy. And while he’s still very delayed I can see that he has made progress and he’s trying and that’s all I ask of him.
I will confess something I’m not proud of – I’ve been scared that Zaki would say mummy before Omar. I’ve been hoping it wouldn’t happen. I can’t lie, it would hurt to see his younger brother by 2 years ‘overtake’ him. But now Omar has said it I can happily work on Zaki saying it too.
There have been some really dark days over the past 12 months as I’ve come to terms with Omar’s problems but today has been a great day. Whatever happens, however much he talks or doesn’t talk, he’s my gorgeous, beautiful, happy boy and I wouldn’t change him for all the world.
To any other parents going through the struggle of having a speech delayed child I promise you this – it does get better.
The hardest days often start out normal. Even good. I was up early today, way before the kids. I had a coffee in peace, I vacuumed the living room. I got dressed and slapped on my make up ready to face the day. I felt good.
The boys woke up and had breakfast, played for a bit and then I washed and dressed them and we left the house. We walked in the warm, comforting sunshine with our holiday tans looking lovely against our summer clothes.
As we approached Omar’s pre school he started to quietly say ‘no no no’. As it dawned on him that he was definitely going inside the no’s became louder until they were full on screams. Then he threw himself on the floor and wouldn’t move as tears streamed down his face. The other mums who had already dropped their little darlings off were having to step over him as he blocked the gate with his tantrum. They gave me the look. You know the one. Half pity, half she-can’t-cope-with-her-brat-of-a-child.
Omar doesn’t usually do this when I drop him off at pre school and he’s never tantrummed this badly before. He loves pre school, he usually skips straight in. Maybe it’s because we’d just spent an entire week together in the sunshine doing fun things, or maybe he just didn’t fancy pre school today, who knows. I don’t know because he can’t tell me. Because he can’t talk.
Anyway, with the help of his key worker I got him through the door. He was clinging onto me. I’d been carrying him on my hip and I totally let go but he clung on for dear life. His key worker prized him off me and assured me I could go and he would be ok. That she would call me in half an hour to let me know he was ok. I didn’t really want to go but I had to. I had his portage worker coming to the house at 9.30 to hand over a report on him following a 3 week assessment she had done.
So the day had turned a bit shitty but it was salvageable. Omar would settle down and he’d have a good day. He loved pre school and he’d be ok after a few minutes. It was ok.
The portage worker arrived and handed me the assessment folder and her report. 18-24 months. That’s the only bit I saw. My boy, my 3 year old boy has the language skills of a child half his age. My heart broke. Again. It wasn’t a total surprise to me, his speech therapist had told us he is operating around a year behind his actual age. But it’s never any easier to be told again. My heart doesn’t ache any less each time.
As I was trying to read through the report, holding back tears, my phone rang. The pre school. Omar hadn’t settled, he was still screaming. I could hear him in the background. He’d bitten his lip during his tantrum and it was bleeding. I told them I’d be there as soon as I could and rushed through the questionnaire the portage worker needed me to fill in. I was about to leave to collect distraught Omar when I got another call. He was ok now, he’d calmed down. Leave him there.
Well that was something at least.
I sat down again with the portage assessment to read it properly. All I could see were the things he couldn’t do. Things that most 2 year olds can do. Things like ask for a drink, tell me what he’d like to eat, ask to use the potty, make the sounds for different animals. Things that would make his life (and mine) so much easier.
Some days I focus on the positives. I try to do that most days. He is happy, he is physically healthy, he is safe, secure and loved. And he knows it. It’s much easier to get through the day when I focus on the positives.
But today, as I was handed in black and white a list of things my child is severely delayed with and unable to do, was not one of those days.
Today I was overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness because I can’t fix this; sadness because I can’t bear the fact that he will struggle in life and fear because I don’t know what his future holds.
Once again I need to start by apologising for neglecting my poor little blog. Life has been quite hectic and I just haven’t found the time but I’m back now.
So, since my last post on Omar, (Finding Out Your Child Has Learning Disabilities) which was about a month ago, there have been some developments. The main one being: we have some more words!!! For such a long time he would only say two words (oh no and ball) but over the past 4 or so weeks this has increased to 20 words! (Not that I’m counting or anything.) His receptive language (understanding) also seems to have improved a lot and he generally just seems to be engaging more. The little toad still hasn’t said mama though, I’m so desperate for that word to come!
I’m not sure whether these steps forward he has taken can be put down to the brilliant speech therapist we have started to see; an online video program we started called Gemiini; or whether it was just time for him to start talking more. But I’m just so glad he’s moving in the right direction and we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing and hope it continues.
With each new word he says I get ridiculously excited and it lifts me for the whole day. The first new word he said spontaneously was cat. We were walking down the street and he pointed to a cat and said ‘cat’. I wasn’t quite sure I’d heard it right and didn’t dare believe it. But then later that day he also said cake and balloon. I was so overjoyed but didn’t dare revel in it too much in case it was a fluke and he’d be stuck on those words for months and months and months, the same way he was with ‘oh no’ and ‘ball’.
But his words continued to increase and I’m so proud of him. I make him work hard with the tasks the speech therapist has given us but we make it fun too and so far so good.
He also had an appointment with a paediatrician a few weeks ago. She was great and spent over an hour with us. She saw Omar in action; he was in a whirlwind mood and kept filling toy pans up in the doctor’s hand washing basin and then trying to soak her with them (I know it shouldn’t have been funny but it so was). He also managed to hit her on the head twice with a ball, clapping and cheering afterwards both times (which leads me to believe her head was the target). Anyway, she didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know in terms of his development. He is delayed. We knew that. But she did say ‘he doesn’t have autism’. She actually said it like that. Not that she doesn’t think/believe/suspect he has autism. Just that he hasn’t got it. I don’t know whether she’s able to know that just from one hour with him; I thought a team of people would need to be involved to make that kind of decision. But anyway, that particular paediatrician doesn’t think Omar’s on the spectrum and neither does his speech therapist. Honestly, I don’t think he is either. I’m not ruling it out though. Just in case. His behaviour definitely isn’t typical but it doesn’t seem to fit with autism either. I’m stumped to be honest.
Omar has started at a new pre school recently too and the staff there are so supportive. He’s only been 6 times so far but I’ve got high hopes about the place. I’m especially hoping they can help with his challenging behaviour. They seem firmer with him than his last nursery and are working on boundaries, which can only be a good thing because he has no concept of them at the moment.
So at 2 years 10 months Omar says 20 words spontaneously and copies around another 5. I know this is waaaay behind typical kids his age but he is talking and at one point I genuinely feared that he never would. His 25 words bring me joy.
On the way home from pre school, when he points to a tree and says ‘tree’ I’m so so thrilled. I’m ecstatic! I’m walking on air! Until behind us, I hear a child younger than him taking in full sentences, telling their parents what they did that day.
Then it hits me again how delayed Omar is and the grief comes creeping back in.
So I have to block all other children out at the moment. Because comparison is the thief of joy and I won’t let anything steal this joy. For now, other children are irrelevant. Even yours. Sorry. I will still be pleased for you when they reach a milestone or make you proud. I will like your Facebook posts and leave kind comments on your Instagram photos. And I’m not being fake, I am genuinely celebrating that achievement with you. But I’m ignoring the age of your child and I’m oblivious to their stage of development. It’s the only way at the moment. I need to preserve my joy.