Signing is speaking

Our not so little T looking stylish with his ears from Great Wolf Lodge!

Yesterday was Baby’s 18 month checkup. Can you believe it? I guess I can’t call him Baby anymore… I guess we’ll call him T then. Sorry for not keeping up, things have just been so fast moving! Lots of updates to come I swear. But something got me so stirred up yesterday I just had to get it out.

Being Mommy’s and Daddy’s you all know how those check ups go. Nurse walks you in and does all those fun vitals. Height, weight, head circumference, temp, etc. Then they ask you some questions to see how they are doing developmentally. So when she asked us if he’s says at least 15 words, it didn’t even occur to me to flinch.

Some background story: We started Sign Language with T a few months ago. I’m not sure exactly when, but when it became clear to Watson and I that T still wasn’t speaking much we decided to give it a try. We bought some flash cards to help us learn key words and dove in. It’s been a huge help for all 3 of us, and he easily communicates to us when he’s tired, hungry, thirsty, wants something, and we learn more every day. He does say some words verbally like mama, dada, yes, meow, pants (for dog), and started moo recently for cow. We let him choose his words and his signs, and that’s okay with us. If he doesn’t have a word or a sign for something he’ll point to his head then to the object and look at you until you say its name and/or sign it. Our family and our Nanny is very aware of how we communicate with him, and it really has eased so many temper tantrum’s because he can “talk” to us.

Back to the Nurse: I rattle of that he says 4-5 verbally and 5-6 with signs. She types away and says nothing about it and goes on with her questions. I make a few notes for her to bring up to the doctor so I won’t forget to ask him. So he comes in and we talk a few minutes (he’s been my doctor since I was two), and then asks the Nurse how everything looks… She looks at him and says, everything is great except speech. He only says 5 words.

EXCUSE ME? When did Sign Language stop being a language? I remember it being offered in school! I immediately correct her, and let the doctor know that T says 5 VERBAL words, but also uses Sign Language to communicate. My child understands everything you say. He asks for cookies, lets you know when he wants something to drink, or wants to read a book. I’m very lucky that my doctor knows me and shares my concerns, both as a parent himself and a family physician. He explains to the nurse that it is important to bring these things up as boys are slower to talk, but sign language is a big point of communication for all kids that choose to use it. As a kid who struggled with a learning disability, I worry that he may have one growing up too. So I promise that if I was concerned that he wasn’t picking up additional words or wasn’t learning like he should be, I would be the first person to tell you.

My son is a very reserved kid. He’s the first one to hand off a toy if another kid is getting upset that he has it. If someone comes running at him he immediately tries to get out of the way. He is a man of few words, and that’s okay. I want him to know that it’s okay to choose what to say and what to sign. Be he knows that he has to either say it or sign it. Crying is for babies and he’s too old for that.

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