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So, How’s Danny Doing?

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:06pm

I’ve had a few people ask me this lately that follow the website, so here goes.

Really, it’s a question that eludes me every time. Therapists, coming to visit every week or two, ask at the top of sessions and it stops me cold. How do you answer that? My brain scrambles to find an answer, something definitive, something relevant … something.

“He’s great!” doesn’t cut it, it’s too vague.

“He’s teething and is particularly crabby, thanks.” True, but not really what they’re going for.

“The same?” may also be true but doesn’t really accomplish anything. Change is slow, progress comes in spurts, and so often I’m left with a whole lot of nothing but the same thing I said last time. Babbling, but not with meaning no matter how much you and I would both like that. Eating, but his molars are killing him so he’s gone back to preferring softer foods. Walking, tripping, falling, same as he has been with his parents’ coordination in his genes.

Of course, then you get the non-therapists who ask, in which case it opens up a whole other line of scrambling. What’s too much? Do they really want details? He’s great, he’s a happy kid. He’s healthy, we’re dodging seasonal illness well so far, knock on wood. He keeps us in a perpetual state of wonder and worry, wonder that he is doing so well and has come so far, worry that there is still another shoe to fall and we’re living in its shadow. He’s developing nicely but never as much or as quickly as we’d wish for.

At our last speech session, his Claire – his speech/AVT/therapist/language/listening/hearing/TOD/type lady who shall forever now be known as his Claire even though sometimes we feel as though she’s here more for us than for him – gave me some copies of a resource that lists out steps in auditory-verbal development, and it gave me some ways to qualify “how’s Danny doing.”

He is pretty firmly in the stage where they’re just starting to piece it all together. To read down the list, it’s like a checklist of “yes, that’s Danny.” Imitates games like peek-a-boo and patty cake, vocalizes more when his implant is on, imitates mother’s vocal play, practices vowel sound vocal play (ah, oo, ee), plays with inflection, and babbles (though could do more of it!). He’s also starting to associate certain sounds with what’s happening … like if he’s hungry and fussing and the microwave turns on, he hears it and quiets, turning to it and waiting for food.

Receptively, he’s quite close to a 9 month level, which is awesome considering he’s almost 9 months listening age. He locates sources of sound, recognizes and differentiates between familiar voices (mom, dad, Eric), responds to verbal requests like patty cake and waving hi with only verbal prompting, raises arms when we say “up” and reach to him, and absolutely is starting to listen to his own vocalizations and babbles for babbling’s sake.

Expressively, he’s solidly hit all of the 6 month level stuff and is coming close to (but not quite at) the 9 month level stuff. We are still stuck at “mamama” and “yayaya” as his primary consonant babbles, but he is intermixing them and his vowels as he talks – “ahhh ma ma ya eeee ya ya ya.” He uses consonants like h and g as well, though not as often anymore. He babbles to get your attention and recognizes that words have meaning. “mm” is still more, and “ee ee” seems to be his general multipurpose “gimme!” He vocalizes for pleasure and for displeasure other than crying and is playing with inflection.

Is he super ahead or catching up at all? Not really. But, he is staying on track, and that in itself is awesome. On a non-listening level, he’s doing…well? It’s hard to tell sometimes, because a lot of the things you look for are related to hearing and understanding, where he’s obviously at a disadvantage. You look for whether kids can point to animals or body parts when you name them, whether they know to stay away from something if you tell them it’s hot, that sort of thing. He experiments with toys and tries to make them work. He attends better and better these days to playing with people. He’s spending more time with his peers rather than off on his own, more time watching people when they speak to him. He recognizes things in his day to day pattern, that the table and chair mean it’s almost time to eat, that getting his jacket on means going to the garage. When we’re getting dressed, he will help put his arms into his sleeves and get his legs into the right holes on his pants; undressed he’ll lift his arms to help take his shirt off and step out of pants.

All around he’s a happy, healthy, crazy, daredevil, clumsy, stubborn, brother-worshiping boy that is becoming more toddler every day. I almost hate to say it, but he seems to be leaving his CMV-developmentally delayed side behind and becoming more “typical” … for a deaf toddler with cochlear implants, at least. There’s still concerns, but they’re smaller.

And that … is how Danny’s doing.

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